East of Heysham

About the play:

The fiftieth anniversary of the death of matinee idol James Dean proves to be the catalyst for more than one rebel without a cause.

In the lonely confines of a northern village hall, the glamour of the silver screen and realities of modern life collide for our dwindling band of apostles to the cult of James Dean.


David Slack as Vince
Wendy McCormack as Bel
Pete Gibson as Walter
Roisin McCusker as Sarah


Written by Philip Martin
Produced by Gareth Kavanagh
Directed by Michael Whittaker
Photography by Elspeth Moore

Press and Reviews:

Lancaster Guardian interview with writer Philip Martin: https://www.lancasterguardian.co.uk/news/writer-heads-east-with-play-1-7248553

The Public Reviews: “East Of Heysham has a clever mix of light and shade, with the gentle, morphine drip of Last Of The Summer Wine mixed with the spice of a J B Priestly morality play.”

Manchester Theatre Awards: “Pete Gibson plays the timid Walter with so much self-effacement as to be positively creepy.”

Writer Philip Martin

Behind the Scenes: Arising from conversations between Producer Gareth Kavanagh and writer Philip Martin, this previously unproduced script came from a number of James Dean related incidents for Philip Martin: “I noticed a poster advertising a programme about him and realised it must be a long time since he was killed. Then, I saw a man who was dressed in a way I thought might have been inspired by James Dean and I wondered if he was a fan.

“Not long after that I was watching Mastermind and someone was answering questions about James Dean. These things all collided and I started to wonder what would happen if his fans met and kept his name alive.”

Exploring themes of lost youth and keeping the past alive, along with a rare on-stage appearance from David Slack meant that East of Heysham was well-received on its stage debut.

Producer Gareth Kavanagh comments: “James Dean arguably invents the modern teenager with Rebel Without a Cause and it is the subsequent cult of youth and the yearning to stay forever young that Philip brilliantly explores in this amazing unproduced script. Philip’s work in Gangsters and Doctor Who did so much to shape my own tastes as a teenager and we’re delighted to have worked with him on this fantastic script.”


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