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Wyndham's Theatre

Charing Cross Road WC2H 0DA

Barking In Essex

Wyndham's Theatre 3D location mapMap ©Silvermaze Ltd 2008 Wyndham's Theatre photo Photo ©Tony Reading 2008

Show Details

Preview 6th Sept 13
Opens 16th Sept 13
Closes 4th Jan 14

Show Times

Mon - Sat 7.30 pm
Matinée - Thurs 2.30 pm
Matinée - Sat 2.30 pm
Length of show - 2hrs 15mins

Local Info

Top Class restaurants nearby;

Mon Plaisir (French)
21 Monmouth Street
020 7836 7243

Loch Fyne (Fish & Seafood)
2 - 4 Catherine Street
020 7240 4999
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A classic viewing of all the Theatreland play houses by night. The authentic commentary, by Ben Shafik - a player himself - gives an authentic feel to the West End's theatres - and is backed by real music.
Next version will be more upbeat as, suggested, to celebrate Britannia's unbeatable heritage.
(Over 6000 viewings and all good reviews to date).
Let us know what you think.

A note from the author

I took these pictures to show off London theatres as they are seen -most often - by theatre goers, at night.

Thanks to Ben Shafik for his lighthearted and informative commentary and Fionn O'Lochlainn for the original music.

Watch out for the new version with current liveries and the names of the theatres as they appear.



Barking In Essex - MapBarking is a part of London that's  in Essex and it's also a word that means mad as in the expression barking mad. Essex in itself has a reputation as well. The men in Essex are supposed to be barking while the women are pretty sassy and mostly loose. So that's not very PC is it? Sheila Hancock in an interview swept aside any notion that either of these stereotypes were relevant to the play. Yet seldom is a play so filled with vulgar, coarse language.  It seems that's mostly what the critics talked about. After a while apparently, it loses any meaning like any word repeated far too often. Those starved of references to men and women's private parts seemed to enjoy it with resounding laughter at first wittering on to the occasional giggle. Maybe in Essex they don't bother to shut the bathroom door when they go to the lavatory.  Who knows?

Barking in Essex - Sheila HancockSo what's the noble actress Sheila Hancock doing dishing out the potty mouth with such gusto?  Whatever it is, she does it very well and carries the show according to most of the audience who bothered to write it down and most of the critics that I bothered to read. (I always read Michael Billington – he is such a marvellous gentleman). She is a professional who "doesn't muck about" to use her own words.

The play gives a straight indication of what the playwright Clive Exton thought about money and what most of us think about it today.

The comedian Lee Evans plays a desperate gangster who has been caught stealing £3 million pounds in notes (allegedly unidentifiable). His punishment at the hands of British justice is to throw him in jail, feed him, clean up after him, entertain him and educate him for seven long years. So he is pretty relaxed as he heads back to his family to claim his money.

Seven years is a long time to hang on to 3,000,000 quid. This explains why all the cursing as the family didn't hold onto it — they spent it all on appalling (Funny) furnishings and fittings fast cars, food and forgotten fantasies. That's obviously why they're called dysfunctional. But they're wondering what Darnley (Lee Evans) is going to say about it when he gets home.… And he does.

A special word for the wardrobe mistress. I know nowadays they call them designers and so forth, but I think we'll stick with wardrobe on this occasion. After all the picture says it all a thousand words later.

Barking In Essex - Wardrobe

It's worth going to see Sheila Hancock if for no other reason. She's one in a million and does a brilliant job of dishing out the insults.

“I keep fit, go for a swim, go walking, all to preserve my strength for the wretched show. For four months, I can’t do anything else. I’ve not got that many years left. Do I want to spend four precious months like this?” Sheila


  • Lee Evans - Darnley
  • Sheila Hancock - Emmie
  • Keeley Hawes - Chrissie
  • Karl Johnson - Rocco
  • Montserrat Lombard - Allegra

  • Play - Clive Exton
  • Director - Harry Buton
  • Design - Simon Higlett
  • Lighting - James Farncombe
  • Sound - Gareth Owen
  • Producer - MJE Productions / James Quaife Productions
© 2017 Updated 5th Jan 2014