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Dateline: 8th February, 2004

Ophaboom Present World Premiere

Ophaboom in association with Unity Theatre Liverpool presents the world premiere of Burke and Hare by John Finnemore & Owen Powell

Edinburgh, 1827. People are disappearing from the streets. The police are baffled, but medical science is advancing at a miraculous rate. Enter Burke and Hare, the Laurel and Hardy of the morgues. This irreverent show is inspired by the true-life story of the body snatching double act and the doctor who funds their murderous ways, adding an original supporting cast of characters to weave a mischievous, gory and hilarious new version of the legend. Visual and physical buffoonery combine with a story that asks what lengths we will go to in the pursuit of our dreams.

Burke & Hare has been in development for two years, since the acclaimed comedy theatre troupe Ophaboom first joined forces with the talented writing partnership of John Finnemore (Scotsman Fringe First nominee) and Owen Powell (twice nominated for Perrier Best Newcomer). Directed by Ophaboom co-founder Howard Gayton, the creative team includes designer Becky Hurst (best known for her work with ground-breaking touring company Cartoon de Salvo) and lighting designer Katharine Williams (who recently lit Theatre O's The Argument at the Barbican). Ophaboom are produced by James Seabright (see for more on his work).

The cast of five includes Ophaboom co-founder Geoff Beale as Doctor Knox, long-time company member Sarah Ratheram as Mr Burke, Trestle Theatre regular James Greaves as Mr Hare, Richard Nutter as Inspector Forrester (recently seen at the Unity playing Prior in Angels In America) and Katy Kattan (a member of Fecund Theatre).

Ophaboom was established in 1991 by Geoff Beale and Howard Gayton to develop and tour theatre inspired by the classic Italian masked artform of commedia dell'arte. Their irreverent reworking of classic legends have toured all the way from Canada to Caithness via Korea and Cornwall. Ophaboom's Robin Hood played an acclaimed off-West End season in 2002.

This world premiere of Burke & Hare has been made possible thanks to the support of a £40,000 lottery grant from Arts Council England and the assistance of Unity Theatre Liverpool, the city's leading developer and presenter of cutting-edge touring theatre. Burke & Hare will also play at Thoresby Indoor Riding Hall in Nottinghamshire for two nights, a venue which has recently been visited by high-profile touring companies such as Shared Experience, through the Notts County Council Stages programme. A full UK tour of Burke & Hare is scheduled for spring 2005.

The Press on Ophaboom

  • "criminally insane comedy" (TimeOut London)
  • "delights with every movement and gesture" (British Theatre Guide)
  • "generates a winning warmth" (The Times)
  • "the best of touring theatre" (The Herald)

Tour Dates

Unity Theatre Liverpool, 1 Hope Place, Liverpool L1 9BG
Thursday 19th - Saturday 21st February 2004, 8pm
Box Office 0151 709 4988

Notts Stages at Thoresby Riding Hall, Thoresby Park, nr Ollerton, Notts.
Thursday 26th & Friday 27th February 2004, 7.30pm
Box Office 0115 941 9419

The Drill Hall, 16 Chenies Street, London WC1
Saturday 29 February 2004, 4pm
Tickets available by application to

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©Peter Lathan 2004