Nominated for a 2022 Olivier Award, Nell Leyshon’s ‘charming, touching’ (Observer) new play with songs, inspired by a true story, returns to Hampstead Downstairs by public demand. Following its sold out run earlier in the year, the complete original cast return this June.
1903, Somerset. Rooted in the land where she has lived her entire life, Louie Hooper’s mind overflows with its songs – more than 300 of them passed down from her mother. Cecil Sharp, a composer visiting from London, fears England’s folk songs will be lost forever and sets out on a mission to transcribe each and every one. He believes Louie’s music should speak not just for this place but for the whole of England.
Brought up in a neighbouring village to Louie’s in Somerset, Nell Leyshon’s theatre credits include Comfort Me With Apples (nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre and winner of the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright) and Glass Eels (both Hampstead), Don’t Look Now (Sheffield / Lyric Hammersmith) and Bedlam (Globe). Folk aired on Radio 3 in May 2021 as part of the BBC’s Lights Up series, which turned the spotlight on plays whose staging had been delayed by the pandemic.
Hampstead’s Artistic Director Roxana Silbert directs her second Downstairs production, following Deborah Bruce’s Raya. Other Hampstead productions include The Haystack, ‘night, Mother and The Fever Syndrome, now playing on the Main Stage.
The cast features Ben Allen (Measure for Measure, Donmar), Sasha Frost (The Lightning Child, Shakespeare’s Globe), Mariam Haque (Behind the Beautiful Forevers, National Theatre) and Simon Robson (The Schumann Plan, Hampstead Theatre).
Folk is a T.S. Eliot Foundation commission.