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Senior Play – Andersen’s English

Senior Play – Andersen’s English


This year’s senior play was Andersen’s English, written by Irish playwright Sebastian Barry and staged in the Layard Theatre on three consecutive nights at the end of the Easter Term.

Celebrated children’s writer Hans Christian Andersen arrives, unannounced, for a stay a Gad’s Hill Place in the Kent marshes - home to Charles Dickens and his large, charismatic family.  To the lonely and eccentric guest, the members of Dickens’s household seem to live a life of unreachable bliss. But with his broken English, Andersen doesn’t see the storms brewing within the family: undeclared passions, a son about to go to India, and a growing strangeness at the heart of Dickens’s marriage.

With cast and stage management involving over 40 senior pupils and staff, a great deal of hard work resulted in a stylish and professional production.

Director John James commented:

“This is a play about Englishness, but approaching the idea from a quite unexpected angle: the limitations of Andersen’s English leads to his partial failure to see that Dickens’ Gad’s Hill is not the English family paradise that his friend would wish it to be. In the midst of Dickens’ quintessentially English world, Barry creates the character of Aggie, the Irish maid, a gutsy survivor of the Irish diaspora, who forms a touching but largely unstated understanding with the Danish Hans Christian Andersen, the other outsider in this fiercely guarded idyll.  It has been a fascinating play to explore and a pleasure to work so closely with the pupils and Kevin Wilkins whose set design so beautifully evokes and makes possible the timeless but specific world in which this awkwardly structured but original and rewarding play is set.”

For more images from the play, please visit the links below: