A Bolton theatre is presenting a ‘very real’ and ‘very funny’ comedy this week.

Bolton Little Theatre is staging what they call ‘one of the most unlikely comedies’ as they bring Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen to their main stage.

Set in 1965, the year capital punishment ended in Britain, the story is set in Harry Wade’s pub in Oldham on the day after the death penalty is abolished.

Director Simon Mott said: “It does seem an unlikely subject for a comedy, but McDonagh manages to tease out some quite brilliantly observed humour from the situation.”

The plot starts with local reporter ‘Clegg’, played by Tom Wilson, trying to get an interview from Harry Wade as the last hangman in England, about his views on the death penalty.

Tom said: “Harry repeatedly insists he’d rather keep his own counsel than discuss the secrets from behind the door of the condemned cell, but his vanity can’t help him blabbing about his career.”

Bolton Little Theatre stalwart Peter Scofield plays ‘Harry, the vain ex-hangman as he pontificates in the Oldham pub that he runs with his wife Alice on the highlights of his career.

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Peter said: “Harry is a fictional character.

“He is obsessed with only being the second most famous hangman in the country after Albert Pierrepoint and his vanity can stop him running away with himself to the reporter.”

Gareth Preston plays ‘Syd’, Harry’s one time assistant who arrives at the pub to warn Harry that a ghost from their past is snooping around.

And sure enough a mysterious stranger, who calls himself ‘Mooney’, turns up asking to rent a room at the pub.

When Harry’s teenage daughter ‘Shirley’ goes missing, all fingers point to this strange character.

Joel Cheetham plays ‘Mooney’ with the charming menace of a latent psychopath and newcomer Darcy Tayler plays the innocent, but rather moody, ‘Shirley’ whose mum ‘Alice’, played by Sabrina Kearney, is at her wits end when she goes missing.

Glenn Robinson arrives late in the tale as ‘Albert Pierrepoint’, the only real character in the play, irritated that his colleague has chosen to spill the beans in a newspaper article on matters that he considers should remain sacrosanct.

The cast is completed by Bolton Little Theatre’s Ian Duckworth as ‘Arthur’, Jim Smith as ‘Bill’ and Richard Leigh as ‘Charlie’ who play Harry’s sycophantic pub regulars, hanging on his every word.

Simon said: “It’s not surprising it had such a long run in the West End and then transferred to Broadway for a successful run there too.

“It has scooped up dozens of awards since it opened in 2015 and it isn’t difficult to see why.

“McDonagh has a knack with dialogue of making it very real and very funny.”

‘Hangmen’ will run until Saturday March 9 at 7.30pm at Bolton Little Theatre, Hanover Street, Bolton BL1 4TG.

For tickets visit www.boltonlittletheatre.co.uk or ring 01204 524469. 

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