The buzz on The Long Life and Great Good Fortune of John Clare

1362826551822As we are now well into the third leg of the tour of The Long Life and Great Good Fortune of John Clare it’s time I think to update the buzz blog.

You can find all the tour dates and ticket information here!


The buzz about #Clareplay started even before we opened. The show made ‘pick of the week’ in The Guardian Guide – lovingly (we like to think) placed above Dame Judi in Peter and Alice!The show appeared twice in @lyngardner ‘what to see’ tips (here and here) right at the start of the tour. Now that Lyn has seen the show its in again – this time with the comment ‘its very good’.


john clareA finer play than its regional small space tour might suggest The Times

The Times gave the show **** . Libby Purves praises the ‘three fine actors….Richard Sandells is superb as patient and poet, one moment shuddering in painful delusion, the next becoming, in accent and demeanour, the troubled poet’ she goes on ‘It is a finer play than its regional small-space tour might suggest; in concept, language and performance it honours poetry and pain alike.’

A gripping and powerful production Glen Pearce in Public Reviews

Public Reviews gave the show four (and a half!) stars! Finding a ‘deceptive subtlety’ in Tony Ramsay’s script which explores ‘the positive and destructive power of love and loss’. In a strong ensemble performance where characters are clearly delineated ‘but it is Richard Sandell’s performance as the dual Johns that captures the attention…. [his] performance is perfectly pitched, subtle movements and emotions suddenly cascading into mania-fuelled outbursts before subsiding again. Never overplayed or sensationalist, this is a performance of pure emotion. ‘ The result – ‘A gripping and powerful production’

Gripping, Intelligent and acted with verve – Lyn Gardner in The Guardian

Lyn Gardner wrote ‘this small show is gripping, intelligent, and acted with verve by Henry Devas, Louise Mai Newberry and Richard Sandells. The east of England would be a far poorer place theatrically without the indispensable Eastern Angles.’

Louise Mai Newberry and Richard Sandells - John Clare You should see this fine piece of work Michael Gray

Over at Michael Gray’s theatre blog Michael finds that ‘The
performances are superb – almost unbearably moving in this intimate space’. The show builds to ‘ a final symbolic act which is one of the finest moments of theatre I’ve seen in a long while’ He ends with the simple instruction -‘You should see this fine piece of work for yourself ‘

a compelling, fascinating and dramatic evening in the theatre’ The Stage

The Stage’s Hugh Homan called the show a ‘very compelling, fascinating and dramatic evening in the theatre’..’The performances are all superb. Richard Sandells is outstanding as the two Johns who find that life doesn’t quite make sense for them. He deftly suggests the difference between madness then and madness now and how we approach those who see the world differently’ ‘Catch this play if you can.

Sandells as John is immensely moving [and] horrifyingly credible Whats on Stage

Anne Morley-Priestman for Whats on Stage gave the show **** finding special praise for Richard Sandalls central performance – ‘Richard Sandells as John is immensely moving as both his characters try to simultaneously break out of and seek security within their mental torment. Mental illness – just like the creative process itself – is not an easy thing to show onstage (or on film, for that matter) but Sandells makes it horrifyingly credible but at the same time immensely moving.’

Flawless…simple and effective East Anglian Daily Times

Full Cast Louise Mai Newberry, Henry Devas and Richard Sandells - John ClareAndrew Clarke in the East Anglian Daily Times finds the play leaving him ‘with much to think about on the way home’ as well as asking the question ‘ Clare died in 1864 and it has to be wondered if there is any better understanding of depression now than there was then.’

Also in the East Anglian Daily Times you can read Wayne Savage’s insightful preview piece – here.

Audience Feedback

‘It was a very moving story, brilliantly portrayed.’ (Crowfield)

‘Brilliant production’ (Bradfield)

‘imaginative, entertaining and a careful encounter with his [John Clare’s] dark side. The actors were superb, the different strands of the storyline seamless. One of our friends claimed it to be the best yet’ (Quay Theatre)

Twitter Feedback

@Rcurtis0914 @easternangles brings me immense joy to see theatre in my wee hometown 🙂

@OakmereSolution Beautifully conceived, written and delivered @easternangles #Clareplay such a treat on a cold April night. Now to read the poetry.

@BrendaHelen #Clareplay @EasternAngles was very good. I will have to read some John Clare poetry now.

@SBakerCX Just seen John Clare prod’n @easternangles , it was absolutely terrific, well done to all involved, highly recommended!

@SuffolkPoetySo Just seen John Clare play @easternangles. Excellent production;interesting re-assessment of Clare’s life. In Ipswich Fri, Sat, then on tour.

@djientan Bloody fantastic performances in @easternangles #ClarePlay this evening. What a treat. Those rural folks around those parts are lucky people

@1ShielR If you haven’t seen #clareplay @easternangles then don’t muck about; just get yourself a ticket. It’s remarkably good & thought provoking


Heres some audio of audience reactions from opening night at Whittlesey library:-

You can listen to Louise Mae Newberry talk about her role in the play here:-

And here is fellow cast member Henry Devas:-

This is a brief interview with (now award winning designer) James Turner

And this interview with playwright Tony Ramsay comes thanks to BBC local radio:-

Tour information

For ticket information and touring plans visit the Eastern Angles web site here


One thought on “The buzz on The Long Life and Great Good Fortune of John Clare

  1. Pingback: New beginnings – and a move from East to West | Matthew Linley's Blog

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