DD Arts Birmingham are staging one of the most powerful plays in recent years, At Ease, a joint production with the Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham. It tells the story of an extraordinary correspondence between Alex Rees, a convicted attempted murderer and ex-EastEnders actor Michael Cashman (now Lord Cashman), an intended target.
What is revealed is an almost unbelievable story of rags to riches to rags again, of abuse, torture, high living in the Household Cavalry, establishment cover-up, cruelty, humour and humanity.
At Ease is written by Birmingham based award-winning playwright Rod Dungate, a long-time friend of Cashman, who found the story unbelievably moving. Rees died after being diagnosed with cancer and Dungate set about interviewing Rees’s family and friends. After a one-off script-in-hand performance, in January 2015, comments ranged from ‘incredible story, really needs to be told’ to ‘the documentary makes it all the more real and moving’. Dungate has written a play that will resonate with every human being.
"What emerged was a story so extraordinary – sometimes shocking, sometimes heartbreakingly funny – that I decided to tell the tale as documentary theatre. Every word you hear is exactly as it was spoken or written by those in the story. It has never been more true that truth is stranger than fiction.”
Lord Cashman, a founder member of Stonewall and a life-long campaigner for LGBT rights, comments:
“The letters I received from Alex Rees are among the more extraordinary things in my life. Full of surprises, full of high-spots and lows, his personal journey to redemption will touch all hearts. More than this, the wit in his writing and his perceptions of human beings have much to teach us. Now, as the basis for this unique drama, it feels as if many circles are satisfyingly beginning to close.”
Dungate will also be directing the play with a cast of five actors, drawing from the best established and emerging talent from the West Midlands. Actors Alison Belbin and Denny Hodge are joined by Shannon Anthony, Jack Richardson and Carl Thornley, who are recent graduates from the Birmingham School of Acting.
With financial support from the Arts Council, the play will be premiered in June and is fully supported by Lord Michael Cashman.
Performances will take place at the Old Joint Stock Theatre Birmingham between 17 and 20 June 2015. For ticket information visit http://www.oldjointstock.co.uk/whats-on or call the Old Joint Stock Box Office on 0121 200 0946.
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