In an unkept field in the English countryside on a sunny but chilly day sits a brown leather armchair, an older woman sitting in it, wearing a fur coat and smoking a pipe. A younger woman perches on the armrest and a middle-aged man stands behind the chair, his hands on the back of the armchair as he leans on it. All three of them look grumpy and cynical. The words 'Village Idiot' are above them in the sky, in large purple letters. Photo credit: Gary Lashmar.

Theatre Royal Stratford East has announced casting for their co-production with Nottingham Playhouse and Ramps on the Moon, the world premiere of Samson Hawkins’ new play, Village Idiot, directed by Stratford East Artistic Director Nadia Fall.

The cast includes Mark Benton as Kevin, Maximilian Fairley as Harry, Philip Labey as Peter, Joseph Langdon as Liam, Eileen Nicholas as Barbara and Faye Wiggan as Debbie.

A pioneering initiative, Ramps on the Moon is a consortium of theatres which aim to enrich stories and the ways in which they are told by putting deaf and disabled artists and audiences at the centre of their work. Village Idiot will mark the first new original play staged by the Ramps on the Moon project.

All performances of Village Idiot are Captioned and will be in a Relaxed Environment. There will also be designated Socially Distanced & Masked, BSL Interpreted and Audio Described performances.


“If I were an animal there would be legislation to protect my home, but because I’m just a bloody human they can do whatever the f**k they like.”

Townies have decided they want a lie in, so they’re building a new high-speed railway. Issue is, it’s going right through Barbara Honeybone’s house, and she ‘ent having none of it. Barbara’s grandson Peter works for the townies and it’s his job to convince the village that having a two-tonne bullet hurtling through the cabbage patches will actually be for the best.

Then there’s Harry, Barbara’s younger grandson, he ‘ent that bothered about trains, he’s only got eyes for Debbie Mahoney. But the only thing Barbara hates more than townies is the Mahoneys.

Welcome to Syresham, South Northamptonshire. It’s not quite the Cotswolds, not quite one of those posh villages Americans have in movies but it does have Syresham’s Got Talent, the headline event of the village fair. There’ll be songs, dancing, magic, drag, a bit of wrestling, and Kevin’s doing a meat raffle (vegetarian option two tins of Strongbow).

Village Idiot is an audacious comedy, where family feuds kick off around a country fair that you townies are all invited to.

We hope it’s a bit like the other plays you’ve seen here, but less s**t.


Writer Samson Hawkins said:

“I was a fencing contractor and I wanted to be a playwright, so I wrote a play about being a fencing contractor. I hope this play captures rural life in a way that will be recognisable to people from that background and enlightening to those not. It’s a message from the country people to the townies, a defence of who we are, and maybe even a challenge for the future.”

Theatre Royal Stratford East’s Artistic Director Nadia Fall said:

“I’d never read anything quite like Village Idiot: it’s audacious, made me laugh out loud and gave me a window into country life that those of us from towns and cities just don’t get to see. And what’s particularly exciting to me is that this is the first Ramps show that is a new play, written by a neurodivergent writer.”

Nottingham Playhouse’s Artistic Director Adam Penford said:

“Nottingham Playhouse commissioned Samson to write Village Idiot after he submitted the idea to Amplify, our Artist Development programme for local theatre-makers. Five years later, and after many drafts, we couldn’t be more thrilled that it’s hitting the main stage, and in collaboration with our friends and colleagues at Stratford East and Ramps On the Moon. Samson’s unique voice grabbed our attention in 2018 and we cannot wait for a wider audience to experience that.”

Alongside Stratford East, the production will visit Ramps on the Moon partner venues Nottingham Playhouse (11 March – 25 March 2023) and New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich (29 March – 01 April 2023).


Book tickets for Theatre Royal Stratford East here:
Book tickets for Nottingham Playhouse here:

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