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Broken Biscuits: #nowplaying Hull

With Plymouth still tapping its feet, we’re brushing off the sand and getting back on the road. This evening BROKEN BISCUITS lands in Kingston upon Hull at Hull Truck Theatre, ready to shred those skins.


The Housemartins

An unlikely collision of Marxist politics and Christianity, The Housemartins are an alternative backing track to the 80s. Originally buskers on the streets of Hull, their single ‘Happy Hour’ landed them at the top of the UKs music scene. Whilst members Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway went on to form The Beautiful South, did you know that Fat Boy Slim and Beats International’s Norman Cook used to be their bass player?


The Beautiful South

Former members of the Housemartins, Paul and Dave formed The Beautiful South in 1988, joined by former roadies and guest vocalists Briana Corrigan and Jaqui Abbott. Their hilariously frank lyrics and soft melodies, mean there’s always one line of ‘Don’t Marry Her’ that always has to be yelled at the top of your lungs.


Fatboy Slim

After he moved to Hull to join The Housemartins, the group split in 1988 and Norman Cook created the musical sensation that is Fatboy Slim. Technically a DJ and not a band, we’re going to give this one to Norman because Christopher Walken moves are truly something else.


The Paddingtons

With a similar sound to bands like The Cribs, The Libertines and Alex Turner’s The Last Shadow Puppets, indie rock band The Paddingtons are one of the 00’s grungers out there. Messy hair, eye liner, ‘cool’ hats and tattered jeans… some of us have all been there.

DID YOU KNOW… back in 2012 Paines Plough presented Paul Heaton’s soul opera THE 8TH in a co-production with Manchester International Festival and on tour across the UK.


Broken Biscuits: Reviews Round-up


After playing for three weeks at co-producers Live Theatre in Newcastle, Tom WellsBROKEN BISCUITS hits the road. We thought we’d do a quick round up of all the brilliant feedback our young rockers have received so far.

“A sweet meditation on the fierce, fragile alliances formed on the cusp of adulthood… incredibly endearing.” ★★★★ The Guardian

“Wonderful, funny and original ★★★★ The i Newspaper

“Funny, confessional and well-crafted… Matthew Robins’ music and Wells’ lyrics feel like Victoria Wood for a new generation.” The Stage

“Quirky, warm and hugely entertaining.” ★★★★ The Chronicle

“It’s funny. It’s engaging, even heart-warming.” British Theatre Guide

“Great atmosphere.” ★★★★ The Reviews Hub

“A funny script and rocking soundtrack… filled with warmth.” Narc Magazine

“A brilliant script… may well be the most uplifting thing you’ll see all year.” ★★★★★ Once Upon a Tyne

“Charming and recognisable… provided laughs along the way in its feel good message about growing up.” North East Theatre Guide

“A new play by Tom Wells is always a welcome event.” The Northern Echo

We’re touring until December visiting all of the following places. Are we coming to you?

25-29 October
The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth
01752 267222

01-05 November
Hull Truck Theatre
01482 323638

08-12 November
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
01723 370541

15-19 November
Crucible Studio, Sheffield Theatres
0114 249 6000

25-26 November
Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol
0117 902 0344

29 November – 03 December
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
0121 236 4455


Insights with JFG cast – In Newcastle

We’re back.  New venue, new audiences, different sensibilities.  Geordies really know their onions; they’ve got a 24 carat theatre heritage and there’s a terrific scene up in Newcastle.  Northern Stage (where we were) and Live Theatre are bang on form at the moment: Lorne Campbell has inherited a very healthy organization from Erica Whyman, who moved to the RSC in January to become Deputy AD.  Her legacy is mighty; no wonder she was named 2012 TMA Theatre Manager of the Year.  For 40 years, Live Theatre has been the dramatic voice of working-class Newcastle.  Lee Hall had one of his greatest successes with them; in 2007 his play The Pitmen Painters opened at the tiny venue for a one month run.  And so began one of the great theatrical journeys: Nick Hytner took it to the National Theatre, and from there it went on to New York before returning for a West End stint and a national tour.  From Broad Chare to Broadway.  Crikey, talk about punching above your weight.

Newcastle and Hull have a famous dramatic link too: Alan Plater. The late, great writer was born just down river in Jarrow, and brought up in Hull.  He really loved both towns, wrote plays for both Hull Truck and Live, and played an important role in the establishment of both venues early on in the 1970s.

It’s a big old stage is Northern Stage (the widest outside London) and our set looked like a doll’s house on there.  However, it meant that we had loads of room behind for warm-ups and games of Foursquare.  We always do a warm-up, but it’s really important when you’re playing a big space like this.  There are the usual Yoko Ono-esque primal shrieks and wails that were drilled into us at drama school, and which may or may not be more effective than a cup of tea and a cig, and articulation exercises (tongue twisters) to help us chew our way through the text clearly (bits of Dr Seuss are particularly good).  We also have a couple of favourite games that help us get into ‘the zone’.  The first, ‘Foursquare’, is a bit like tennis without a net.  Or rackets.  And you play it with a football.  So I suppose it’s not very much like tennis, but it is pretty competitive; somebody mentioned that some theatre companies have because it caused rows.  Much as we enjoy it, we think it’s a poor basis for a decent row.  I think there are possibly underlying tensions and issues at play in those casts and Foursquare is merely a catalyst.  The other is ‘Big Booty’ and it is brilliant for generating the focus, alertness and fun that you need when performing comedy. Warm-ups can be collective and playful; it’s not all ‘me, me , meeeeeeeeeeeee’.

After the performance on Wednesday we had a ‘Post-show’.  If you’ve not been to one, it’s basically a chat and Q & A with the cast (and sometimes the director and the writer) in the auditorium after curtain down.  I really enjoy them, both as spectator or actor, because you can get/give a fascinating insight into how plays get made and played.  If you’re a creative or performer, you get the chance to gauge your audiences’ reaction to what you are doing.  It’s like the DVD extras of theatre.  A large contingent of Theatre Studies students stayed behind and opened up a good, frank discussion about the play and its issues, and we explained how the show developed from early drafts to press night and beyond.  It’s an excellent way to make theatre more accessible and inclusive for young and new audiences.  And the theatre buys you a drink.

Newcastle at night is not sedate, and we flung ourselves, livers first, into it again and burned through our touring allowances before the weekend.  Dabbawal (delicious Indian street food) was the food favorite, and the week culminated in a night at the discreetly named World Headquarters.  It was there that Philip bumped into the Manchester United and England striker, Danny Welbeck.  Somewhat star-struck and overwhelmed, he only managed to repeat the footballer’s name to him over and over again.  Apparently Alicia, Amy and Viv were less whelmed, and Andy and Jamie were ‘busy’.  I missed all this, unfortunately, as I’d ended up in Benwell with some Poles at a house party that got a bit weird.

In the break, we found out that JFG has been nominated for Best New Play in the UK Theatre Awards.  Congrats, Tom Wells – nothing less than you deserve.

Right, that’s it for me.  See how it goes next week. #jump4goal

Tom Wells’ JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS has been nominated in the Best New Play category by UK Theatre Awards

TMA have just announced the nominations for the 2013 UK Theatre Awards, and we are so thrilled  to announce JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS by Tom Wells has been nominated in the Best New Play category.

PP’s Joint Artistic Directors, James and George have said:

“We are thrilled that Tom’s beautiful, heart-warming comedy has been recognised by The Theatre Awards UK. Tom is one of the finest voices to emerge in recent years and JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS cements his reputation as writer of rare comic brio and real heart. We are so proud to have co-produced this important play with Watford Palace and Hull Truck, and to have toured it nationwide, to audiences who have instantly related to Tom’s team of lacklustre footballers and cheered them on in victory and defeat.”

The other nominees for Best New Play are:

Further details about the TMA and the UK Theatre Awards can be found here.

If you haven’t seen JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS yet, you can catch it at the Bush Theatre in November following it’s autumn nationwide tour, get your tickets here.

Insights with JFG cast – In Leeds

We bade a fond, beery and dancy farewell to Hull Truck on Saturday night.  It’s been an unforgettable two-and-a-bit weeks and we’ll take the spirit of the city around with us and summon it up every time we step into the changing room.  We were part of the terrific Freedom Festival last weekend, and had the privilege of playing to audiences who were warm and generous with their praise. We’ll particularly cherish the comments of top Hull drag Queen, Denise Van Outofit, but will not be reproducing them here for reasons of taste and decency.  You can probably find them via Andy Rush’s twitter though.  Fanks, ‘Ull. Ta-ra for now.

And so we move on to the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.  I think Hullensians have sometimes felt overshadowed by our big brother down the M62. The city’s football and rugby league teams have had more days in the sun than ours, their cultural life has more of a throb, but worst of all, they can lay claim to one of rock’s greatest live albums, when it should have been ours.  The Who – Live at Leeds was recorded at the university on February 14th, 1970, the night before a gig in Hull.  The band thought the latter was a better performance and wanted to release it, but couldn’t because the bass guitar hadn’t recorded properly.  Typical.  Bloody Leeds.

The place has always been good to me, though.  Some of my favourite memories were made here; my dad took me to watch England play test matches at Headingley when I was young, and a few years ago I appeared in one of the last things that Alan Plater wrote: a piece for Radio 3 which was recorded in front of a live audience in the Courtyard Theatre, where we’ll be playing this week.  Leeds holds a lot of significance for Tom Wells, too: he started his journey as a playwright here, when he took part in the So You Want To Be A Writer? workshops that Mark Catley runs at WYP.  Out of that course came Tom’s first play Me, As A Penguin.

I enjoy touring.  You meet a lot of people and visit all corners of the land, but what I really like is how it helps to refresh the production when you move to a new venue. The text stays the same, and our set won’t have to adapt much as we move from place to place, but there are a few subtle variables that keep us on our toes.  Each audience is unique, but you find that each place has a slightly different response to the play.  Some lines and references will get big laughs in Hull, and barely a grin somewhere else, but people in Kendal or Ipswich will surprise you with what tickles them.  The spaces themselves, and their individual acoustics, affect the playing too; in a big house like Northern Stage you have to chuck the gags up to the back like grenades of funny, but in an intimate space like the Bush your touch can be lighter and the slightest inflection or look will land.  It’s a bit like sailing: the boat’s the same but the water and weather are always changing, so you have to sense the differences and adapt.

The trailer for JFG was released last Thursday.  It’s beautiful; Mathy and Fran have captured the essence of the play without either giving too much away­­–or merely cobbling bits of scenes together.  We shot it on Hackney Marshes during the re-rehearsal week and it wasn’t apparent when we were charging around in the East End drizzle how they would weave it all together. We’d seen their other Paines Plough films and knew that it would be quirky (good quirky, not wanky quirky) and unique, but we were pretty blown away by how eloquently and economically it conveys the feel of the show.  Hopefully it’ll entice more people to come and see us, along with the ‘properly snazzy’ new poster.  And by the way, my ball miskick was intentional, but the slip onto arse/head which followed it was not.  It’s pure ‘Joe’, though, so let’s just call it Involuntary Method Acting.  I gave myself minor whiplash when I hit the deck, but I hope it gives you a chuckle.  No, really.  Go on, you enjoy yourselves!

See you next week, then. #Jump4Goal


Check out the film trailer for JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS by Tom Wells, created by the super talented Mathy & Fran.

Tell us what you think by leaving a comment or tweeting us @painesplough with the hashtag #jump4goal.

For further information, tour dates and tickets for JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS click here.

Watch more PP trailers and video clips on our YouTube Channel.

Insights with JFG cast – First weeks in Hull

We’re in Hull.  That wouldn’t usually be a sentence to lift an actor’s heart, but for the JFG team, and for me in particular, it’s a tour highlight.

The play has finally come home; I’m from Hull, writer Tom Wells is from down the road in Kilnsea, and the play is set in a changing room somewhere in the city.  We have been living with our respective characters since the scripts hit our doormats (email inboxes these days) in February, but most of the cast had never been to Hull before we arrived a week last Tuesday.  I took them on a bit of a tour after we got here and showed them the actual places that we mention every night on stage: Phil saw the Library where his character ‘Luke’ works, Andy Rush saw the twinkling lights across the Humber that ‘Beardy’ can see from Sean’s Marina flat, and Viv Gibbs (‘Viv’) walked the streets that her namesake rues she never got to triumphantly carry the Olympic torch through.  One of those streets is the delightfully named Land of Green Ginger and it has a pub on it with the UK’s smallest window.  They didn’t believe me until I showed them it!

Audiences and critics loved the show when we were in Watford in April, and since then I have been itching to see how we would go down in Hull.  The reaction here has been terrific too.  The themes in JFG are universal; ordinary people dealing with love, loss and the challenges of daily life as best they can, but when you watch a play that is this close to home – especially one as vibrant and warm-hearted as ours – it can have a real impact on the way you feel about where you’re from, and the people you live amongst.  James and George understood this when they took the reins at Paines Plough and set up the Come To Where I’m From project to explore how our hometowns shape us.  A piece of theatre might not have the immediate and wide impact on local pride and sense of identity as the football club getting into the Premier League or a local bantamweight winning Olympic gold, but it can hold the mirror up, distil the spirit of a place into two hours’ stage traffic (well, ninety-odd minutes in our case) and encourage people to think about their town or city from a new perspective.  I hope it makes Hullensians feel good about themselves.

In Theatre, the Stage Manager writes a report about each performance including: the running time, the audience number, and anything noteworthy that occurred on a particular night.  This ‘show report’ is sent to everyone involved with the production (except the actors) so they can see how things are going.  They occasionally make for an alarming/amusing read and I’m pretty sure that the following incidents found their way into last weeks’ dispatches:

I said that the reaction has been overwhelmingly warm. Last Friday’s show was also a bit lively; the front row were, how shall I put it…well, all quite pissed, frankly.  The laughs were loud and, in Tom Wells’ word, ‘pubby’, but I’m sure the less ‘relaxed’ patrons could have lived without the running commentary or toilet traffic.  Nothing like what today’s stand-ups or the actors in Shakespeare’s day had to deal with though.

In scene two my character ‘Joe’ goes off for a shower, leaving Danny and Beardy to have a private chat before I return to the stage an improvised goalie coaching session.  On the Saturday matinee I re-entered to find two bemused actors staring at me from positions I didn’t expect them to be sitting in.  I look ridiculous enough as it is, clad in only a green Carlsberg towel, but when you walk back into a scene about a page too early the only way to salvage any dignity is to walk confidently back in the direction you came from as if nothing was amiss and leave your fellow cast to pick up the pieces of the scene that you’ve just ‘humpty dumptied’ and put it back together again.

Sorry Andy.  Sorry Jamie.

I’ll be back next week with more from backstage, and in the meantime you can keep track (twack?) of how it’s all going via twitter: #jump4goal

JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS National Tour Announced

We’re over the moon to be announcing that Tom Wells‘ brilliant new rom com JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS (“Unreservedly recommended” ★★★★★ The Independent) will be touring to audiences in Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, Scarborough, Kendal and Ipswich in the Autumn as well as a London home at the Bush theatre.

A Paines Plough, Hull Truck and Watford Palace Theatre production
by Tom Wells
directed by James Grieve

I’m not asking you to win. I’m asking you to just: chuck your face at it, have a, have a fucking good go at it. And then we’ll. Yeah. We’ll see.

Luke wants Danny, but Danny’s got a secret. Joe wants to play second fiddle, but Geoff wants a headline gig. Viv just wants to beat the lesbians to the league title. Game on.

A hilarious and heart-warming story about football, friendship and finding your way from Tom Wells, winner of the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright 2012 for the smash hit comedy THE KITCHEN SINK (★★★★★ The Daily Telegraph).

Here’s the full details of where it’s heading:

29 August – 14 September 2013, Hull Truck Theatre
17 – 21 September 2013, West Yorkshire Playhouse
1 – 5 October 2013, Northern Stage
8 – 9 September 2013, Brewery Arts, Kendal
10 – 12 October 2013, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
14 – 16 October 2013, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
25 November – 21 December 2013, Bush Theatre, London

Paines Plough Joint Artistic Director and director of JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS James said:

“The autumn tour of Tom Wells’ JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS sees the company returning to seven great theatres across the country with a production we are excited to share as one of the feelgood comedy hits of the year. Along with Hull Truck and Watford Palace Theatre, I am tremendously excited to bring Tom’s important, heart-rending and side-splitting rom com to audiences in Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, Scarborough, Kendal and Ipswich. 

We are also delighted to announce that the production will transfer to London’s Bush Theatre at the end of the year. This will be a homecoming, not only for Tom whose extraordinary play THE KITCHEN SINK premiered at The Bush in 2011, but also for me having spent two years there as Associate Director. 

Our long term relationships with theatres nationwide are the cornerstone of our ambition to ensure everyone, everywhere, has the opportunity to see the best of British new writing.”

For the story of JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS so far you can have a gander at our blog, read the reviews here and to get involved with the conversation tweet @painesplough #Jump4Goal.

#Twinterview with Tom Wells

This week JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS writer Tom Wells took over our twitter for twenty minutes to do a wee #twinterview with Watford Palace Theatre. From fish trails to five aside football, here’s what Tom had to say:

Are you a shark or anchovy kinda guy?

@painesplough What gave you the idea for #Jump4Goal?

Tom Wells/ @Paines Plough
@watfordpalace I wanted to write a group of gay characters, 5-a-side seemed a good way to bring them together #jump4goal
@watfordpalace & I thought a scruffy northern romcom would be fun #jump4goal

@painesplough It certainly is fun! #Jump4goal
@painesplough You’re writing is very true to real-life speech, tell us about the process #Jump4Goal

Tom Wells/ @Paines Plough
@watfordpalace I read it out loud as I go along & try to be careful with rhythm but it’s the actors who make it sound natural. #jump4goal
@watfordpalace They do the hard bit. #jump4goal

@painesplough Cool, James Grieve once said you write about underdogs. Are you drawn to these characters? #Jump4Goal

Tom / @Paines Plough
@watfordpalace They just keep popping up. Don’t know why. #Jump4Goal

@painesplough Well they seem to work for you ;) #Jump4goal
@painesplough So tell us, is the Hull fish trail a real thing, have you ever been on it? #Jump4goal

Tom Wells /@Paines Plough
@watfordpalace Yes I have followed Hull’s unique pavement of fish. Some people go straight for the shark. I started at anchovies #Jump4Goal

@painesplough Brilliant, love anchovies #jump4goal
@painesplugh Beardy is a fan of the drunken lunge, what’s your flirt style? #Jump4Goal

Tom Wells/ @PainesPlough
@watfordpalace Low-level panic. If that’s a style. I’m no Beardy, sadly – I’ve lunged and lost. #Jump4Goal

@painesplough Better to have lunged and lost, I say! #Jump4goal
@painesplough And finally, Tell us about your next project #Jump4Goal

Tom Wells / @Paines Plough
@watfordpalace Next job is Cosmic, a new play touring youth centres and village halls in Hull / E. Yorks in May. #Jump4Goal
@watfordpalace Should be lovely. #Jump4Goal

@Watford Palace
@painesplough We’re sure it will be! Best of luck and congratulations on such an awesome play. #Jump4Goal


JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS runs until 20th April 2013 at Watford Palace Theatre and tours nationwide in the Autumn.

JUMPERS scores Five Stars

Last week we opened Tom Wells’ hilarious and heartwarming new rom com JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS at Watford Palace Theatre, in co-production with Watford Palace and Hull Truck.

We’re delighted to report the critics are united, and it’s a winner…

Here’s a round up of some of the reviews so far:

“Wells has given us another winner…Unreservedly recommended.”
★★★★★ Independent

“You won’t know whether to laugh or cry (you’ll probably do both).”
★★★★★ Public Reviews

“Tom Wells’s radiantly warm new play… effortlessly moving and twinkling with wit, in a huge-hearted production from James Grieve. Gorgeous.”
★★★★ The Times (Paywall)

“Humane, funny and poignant…some TV company will soon be offering Wells a transfer. Watch him live while you can.”
★★★★ Sunday Times (Paywall)

“Tom Wells’ drama finds extraordinary beauty in the ordinary lives of its characters.”
★★★★ Financial Times

“A surprising, spirited new comedy…it opens its characters’ hearts, and it cracked open mine.”
★★★★ Sunday Express

“Balancing the comic with the emotionally touching…scores a number of goals.”

“The comedy is lively, often uproarious…a stunning piece of writing – fresh, funny, painful, engaging.”
The Stage

JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS plays at Watford Palace Theatre (a 15 minute train from London Euston on Oyster Card) until Saturday 20th April. Tickets are only £12.50 & £5 for 16-25s as part of WPT’s Rumour Scheme.

Get tickets at or call the box office on 01923 225671.

The play opens at Hull Truck Theatre this autumn before touring nationwide. Keep an eye on our website for dates.