Behind the Scenes

Labour of Love

two actors and flipchart easel

About the work


Welcome to the Michael Grandage Company’s and Headlong’s production of Labour of Love by James Graham

Labour MP David Lyons cares about modernisation and ‘electability’… His constituency agent, Jean Whitaker cares about principles and her community. Set away from the Westminster bubble in the party’s traditional northern heartlands, this is a clash of philosophy, culture and class against the backdrop of the Labour Party over 25 years, as it moves from Kinnock through Blair into Corbyn… and beyond?

“MGC’s producer, Nick Frankfort, commissioned James Graham’s new play Labour of Love and the moment I read it, I knew we should be producing it directly in the West End. It was an incredibly timely play with huge political themes and a love story all rolled into one. It seemed to be the perfect piece to show that relevant, new work can thrive in the non subsidised arena and appeal to as wide an audience as possible. With MGC’s unique commitment to access in the West End, offering a quarter of every performance at £10, it has been wonderful watching so many young people engage with a play of ideas inside a playhouse designed to bring popular theatre to the people.

The whole experience was enhanced further by our collaboration with Headlong, a company dedicated to bringing new writing to new and diverse audiences. Their artistic director, Jeremy Herrin, continued his relationship with James Graham following their hugely successful collaboration on This House. Here, for the first time, we are able to offer a behind the scenes look at the building of Labour of Love. Our Education Associate, Dominic Francis, has complied a comprehensive document that charts the process and supplements the production for anyone interested in delving deeper. I hope you enjoy it.”

Michael Grandage, Artistic Director, MGC

9th June 2017, the early hours of the morning in a Labour Party office in North Nottinghamshire. David Lyons, local MP for the past 27 years, waits anxiously with his constituency agent, Jean Whittaker, for the results of the snap General Election, the first reports suggesting a hung parliament. Having been re-elected six times since 1990, David faces the possibility of finally being voted out while his party, despite some gains, looks likely to be denied victory for the third time in a row.

Why is Labour losing seats in its traditional northern heartland while winning ‘safe’ Conservative ones elsewhere? What’s shifted within the party and country as a whole? David and Jean have witnessed many changes within the Labour movement over the past three decades: the election of Tony Blair as leader in 1994 and the birth of ‘New Labour’; the party’s landslide victory in the 1997 General Election; reduced majorities in the 2001 and 2005 elections; Tony Blair stepping down in 2007; successive leaders, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and now Jeremy Corbyn…

Through it all they’ve worked together side-by-side – David advocating the need for a new approach, Jean championing the old values. Despite their many differences, a grudging respect has grown between them, and with it affection. All this is pulled into sharp focus by the return of David’s ex-wife, Elizabeth, who suggests they give their marriage another try… Having guided the MP through six successive victories, is his fiery constituency agent prepared to see him lose now on the home front?

DirectorJeremy Herrin
Set & Costume DesignerLee Newby
Lighting DesignerNeil Austin
Sound DesignerPaul Arditti
Video & Projection DesignerDuncan McLean
Wig & Hair DesignerRichard Mawbey
Casting DirectorSam Stevenson
Associate DirectorBryony Shanahan
Production ManagerDom Fraser
Company ManagerGreg Shimmin
Deputy Stage ManagerFran Redvers-Jones
Assistant Stage ManagerJosh Clark
Costume SupervisorMary Charlton
Props SupervisorsLisa Buckley, Daisy Bradley
Dialect CoachRichard Ryder
ChoreographerSian Williams
Head of WardrobeCharlotte Stidwell
Deputy Head of WardrobeRosa Prados
Head of Wigs, Hair & Make-UpAnna Pileci
DressersDavid Rees,
Debbie Johnston

timeline of British politics/events: 1990–2017
A timeline of British politics/events: 1990–2017

(click for a larger version)


Labour of Love Trailer

Behind the Scenes

Technical Rehearsals