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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Liverpool Everyman
June 17 – July 10

Author: Robert Tressell adapted by Howard Brenton
Director: Christopher Morahan
Cast Includes: Finbar Lynch, Larry Dann, Des McAleer, Thomas Morrison, Dean Asshton

Running Time: 2 hrs 35 mins

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists promotional image

Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official website

It may be over one hundred years old and the times may be a changing on a governmental level, but judging by this production The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is still as relevant as it’s ever been if not more so.

The atmosphere of the piece is what makes it stand out and, imbued with a sense of inequality at the hands of the bosses, each of the cast drags the most from their character without ever being trite or attempting to preach to the converted, for which Director Christopher Morahan should be praised to the hilt.


Stage photographs from the play


Of the cast, Finbar Lynch skilfully holds the strings as Frank Owen, who gently cajoles his colleagues into recognising that what he believes is the right way to go. Des McAleer as foreman Denis Hunter, with all his “cost cutting” nastiness is the very personification of every brown-nosed overseer its been everybody’s displeasure to work with at one time or another and Dean Ashton as the two-faced philanderer Slyme is just superb in his creepiness.

However, it Larry Dann as Old Joe Philpott – a character who is surely the inspiration for Orwell’s Boxer the carthorse in Animal Farm – who deserves special mention within an exemplary cast for the manner in which he exudes humour, charisma, wisdom and, finally, pathos into his role at every turn.

Producing a play such as The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at a time when a Socialist government has just lost power may, to some, appear ironic in as much as the relevance of Socialism appears somewhat dimmed. However, this new production of Robert Tressell’s story of a team of decorators sparkles with so much wit and integrity it is impossible not to warm to the ethos that lies at its very core.

Chris High


Everyman Liverpool Playhouse official website



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
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