A comic, clever and at times deeply personal new play by Ivan Cutting (Private Resistance) probes behind the façade of two famous authors, to find the secrets that both inspired and haunted them.
Directed by Nicola Pollard, the play centres on a fictional meeting between two of Suffolk’s most famous residents: George Orwell, who took his name from the Ipswich river, and Arthur Ransome, who lived on it.
The play opens in Southwold just before the outbreak of war, and Orwell’s father is dying. Arthur, along with his wife Evgenia, are sailing up the coast from Pin Mill. When Orwell, who is about to write Animal Farm, learns that Evgenia was the former secretary of Russia’s revolutionary leader, Trotsky, and that Ransome used to play chess with Lenin, he hurries down to the harbour.
With their shared interest in fishing, fables and the east coast, the two writers begin a tentative friendship, until a mutual suspicion of spies causes sparks to fly. The extraordinary links between Orwell and Ransome and the women they loved fuels the flames. Resolution comes in 1950 with a new decade, and Orwell’s final days.