A century old, but this drama is still relevant

ragged trousered philanthropists espinosa centre berkhamsted may 2013
ragged trousered philanthropists espinosa centre berkhamsted may 2013

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, first published nearly a century ago, is acknowledged as a classic of working-class literature.

It dates from 1914, but the themes of struggle in an unequal society, solidarity and surrender remain relevant today – particularly at a time of recession, welfare cuts and zero hours contracts.

Stephen Lowe’s version of Robert Tressell’s famous story about a group of decorators working on a local bigwig’s home was first seen in 1978 and has been regularly revived since.

The latest production helped mark the centenary of the author’s death in 2011 – Tressell died before his enduring work was ever published, and after succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of 40 was buried in pauper’s grave.

The Townsend Productions show, which has been touring the country for two years, features Richard Stone, who has appeared in both Coronation Street and Emmerdale in his time, and Neil Gore, who along with director Louise Townsend has West Herts roots.

The story is brought to life using entertaining songs of the Edwardian time.

They’ll be at the Espinosa Centre in Northbridge Road, Berkhamsted, on Sunday, May 5, at 6.30pm.

Tickets are £11 for adults, with concessions available at £9. Children under 16 pay £5 and a family ticket for two adults and two children is £30 – call 01442 818283 to reserve yours.

Townsend Productions, based at Bulbourne, is about to go into rehearsal for its next show, We Will Be Free, based on the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, which will be premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Festival before embarking on a national tour.