Jeff Page , writer of this new play showing at the Drayton Arms Theatre this month, has worked in the charity sector for many years, making the basis of Charity Case very close to his heart. Jeff says he ‘wanted to create an exciting narrative about that world which raised questions about the voluntary sector but not to do it in a ‘worthy’ way.’ He was keen to get people to question what they thought about charity, and why the women in the play feel they have to set up a charity. ‘It was important for me to write something that would be a roller coaster race against time and have some laughs on the way.’
Charity Case comes at a time when it seems that there’s a crumbling provision of services in the UK, which Jeff feels deserves attention in the arts. ‘Although everyone in government says they are ‘aware’ of the need for vital funding to support people with disabilities, provision never matches rhetoric… People like the mothers in the play still need to fight for appropriate housing, respite care and welfare benefits. The situation is getting worse not better.’
This poignant play makes the Drayton Arms Theatre its home from 17th – 21st March. The Drayton Arms has been named Pub Theatre of the Month by London Pub Theatres. Asked about the Drayton Arms, Jeff said ‘Audrey Thayer is the inspirational AD and she is bringing a wonderful freshness and immediacy to the building. New and diverse writing voices are very much to the fore under her tenure.’ It’s not just those involved with the Drayton Arms which drew Charity Case to the venue; the physical space is also an asset. ‘The theatre space is an intimate one and perfectly suited to Charity Case. Our stage becomes the office of the charity Number 93 for the day and the characters that pass through it.’
Jeff has collaborated with Manuel Bau on Charity Case. Manuel previously worked with Jeff on his last play Checkpoint Chana at the Finborough Theatre, and praises Manuel for his ability to interpret a script and bring it to life in a ‘special’ way. ‘He will bring ideas to the table that I would never have thought of. Nothing is left to chance and no nuance unexplored. He’s always totally professional and super-hardworking – I count myself very lucky to be on this project with him’. Jeff speaks highly of the whole team working on Charity Case, particularly highlighting the ‘superb actors that you will definitely be hearing more from in the future.’
While Jeff wants the play that he has written to bring something special and entertaining to audiences, this is certainly more than entertainment. Charity case is an evocative piece, and Jeff hopes that the play might end up with heated debates in the bar; an undoubted benefit of Pub Theatres.
Charity Case plays from 17th-21st March at the Drayton Arms Theatre. There is also a relaxed performance on 19th March. Tickets here.