Cast announced for upcoming concert at St. George’s Hall
Main stage and screen actors Dominic Marsh, Danny Webb and Alice Imelda are set to star in a new concert piece (music and theater collide), which will be touring from 15e– 24e October 2021, stop at that of Liverpool prestigious Saint-Georges room to friday 22sd October.
I, Spie is produced by leading old music / theater company The Telling, who are excited to return to the stage on a six date UK tour.
Known for its revolutionary shows where music and theater meet, The Telling will present their new half-concert / half-piece, I, Spie for 3 actors and 5 musicians. It tells the story of composer / lutenist John Dowland’s contact with the Secret Service and how he manages to foil an Italian plot into the life of Queen Elizabeth I. Think Spooks, 16e In the style of the century! Ultimately, the fate of Dowland will be left in the hands of the public who will be responsible for deciding how the show should end.
Dominic Marsh, a regular at the Kneehigh Theater, has also performed at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theater and the Globe. Marsh will also be a familiar face to fans of Coronation Street, DCI Banks and Doctors.
Alongside Marsh, Danny Webb and Alice Imelda play supporting roles. Danny Webb is perhaps best known for being the sole survivor of Alien3, but more recently recognizable for his roles in ITV’s Liar, Channel 4’s Humans, and the 2021 Netflix film The Dig. Webb will play the exciting roles of Spy Master Sir Robert Cecil and Topliffe the Torturer, among others.
Alice Imelda, whose theatrical background includes creating Clare Norburn’s Carmen with CarmenCo, The Mad Ones (BJW Productions / Derby Theater) and Tell Me On A Sunday (The Old Laundry Theater), will assume the roles of Maria (the Dowland’s love interest) as well as future Mrs. Dowland and Queen Elizabeth I. Alice also appeared in the movie My Dinner with Herve (HBO / Red Castle).
The drama, directed by Nicholas Renton (BAFTA nominee Wives and Daughters, Musketeers, A Room With A View, Lewis, Silent Witness), centers on an extraordinary letter Dowland wrote to spy master Sir Robert Cecil in 1595. Au Time, Dowland was roaming Europe, having embarrassed that he had not secured a position as a lutenist at court when a post became vacant.
Cecil had signed Dowland’s travel papers and probably told him to “keep his eyes and ears open.” So when, as an English Catholic, Dowland is approached by English ex-Pats living in Florence and Rome, who are plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I, Dowland provides the information on the plot and the key players to Cecil. . I, Spie, imagine the gaps in what we know about Dowland’s life at that time – what led him to the time he wrote this letter – but also what happened afterward.
“Being a Catholic informant in Elizabethan England was a dangerous business – no one trusted you completely, even if your information was useful,” says writer / soprano Clare Norburn. “The 1580s saw a series of Catholic plots and the terrifying threat of the Spanish Armada – and with the Queen aging without any clear succession, in 1595 there was a feverish sense of panic and suspicion. Against this background, it’s no wonder that Dowland’s letter reads like a man risen from his depths: he appears scared for his own life – and with good reason. Catholics who inquired were not always completely confident – many ended up at the gallows. But on the other hand, he disseminates information and effectively foils the intrigue… How involved was he in all of this? “
The practice of the Secret Service recruiting students from Oxford and Cambridge dates back to this period. It was often considered fashionable and exciting for students to immerse themselves in Catholicism. So there was a pool of potential recruits who had already shown Catholic tendencies and who could easily be turned into informants.
The origins of the modern Secret Service were formed during the reign of Elizabeth I – initially under the leadership of inspirer Sir Francis Walsingham, who initially had to fund the service out of his own pocket. His death in 1590 caused a void: and a struggle for supremacy between Sir Robert Cecil and the Earl of Essex. So there was a potential for a double transaction between the followers of these two key players within the service itself.
“What is fascinating is how contemporary the issues of freedom of espionage to pursue the security of the country are. I was also interested in what happens to a musician / composer who suddenly finds himself caught up in this world? How do I tell Dowland is an artist? Through the ages musicians and writers have been caught up in espionage: the best-known example from Dowland’s time is Christopher Marlowe; but there is also Dowland’s exact contemporary in Oxford, composer Thomas Morley, who also worked for the service. And later playwright Aphra Behn, writer Daniel Defoe… What does it mean to be a writer / composer / performer and in private also a bearer of spy secrets….? ”
Playwright Clare Norburn is also the soprano and artistic director of The Telling, renowned for immersing audiences in a world of music and theater. They will perform music by Dowland and his contemporaries, alongside Elizabethan tavern, street music and court mask.
The Telling have an impressive track record. Earlier in 2021, notable film and television actors Rachael Stirling and Alec Newman starred in The Telling’s online play along with the musical series, Love in the Lockdown, for which Nick Renton won the Best Director award. at the Screensaver Awards.