Transferring from the Edinburgh Fringe after a successful run and an OffFest nomination, Alison Skilbeck’s Uncommon Ground is about six wildly different people, coping and connecting during one year on the Common. It relates their unexpected tales of love, life, death and downright dottiness, while a seventh character lurks mysteriously.
Partly inspired by glimpses of people Skilbeck saw on her daily walk on Clapham Common during Lockdown, the play is a response to the feeling of isolation during COVID and the search for connectedness. Directed by Gareth Armstrong, with music by composer Simon Slater (Constellations, Royal Court/West End/Broadway), Alison Skilbeck’s Uncommon Ground reflects on the human need for the solace of nature, for healing laughter and silliness, and for love in all its forms surviving.
This is the fourth play Skilbeck has written having previously gained much praise for her five-star solo show Mrs Roosevelt Flies to London. Critically acclaimed throughout her acting career, her theatre work has taken her from Ayckbourn premieres in Scarborough, to London’s West End, to touring Shakespeare all round America. Television includes Sherlock Holmes, The Beiderbecke Affair, Miss Marple, Head Over Heels, Soldier Soldier, New Tricks, Doctor Who, Lovejoy, Midsomer Murders and Call the Midwife, and she can currently be seen in series five of The Crown.
Skilbeck states I was quite taken aback at how my seven wildly different characters (age, sex, ability, species..!) resonated with the Edinburgh audiences. Maybe people brought their own memories of Covid, and separation, but also feelings about human connection, and the ties that bind. People really did laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time!
Following this extraordinary play comes a work from her husband – renowned stage and screen actor Tim Hardy – who returns to London from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe with his critically acclaimed OffFest nominated solo show, The Trials of Galileo. Written and directed by Emmy Award winning filmmaker Nic Young, it tells the gripping story of Galileo’s heresy trial in 1634.
‘Proof’ denies faith, and without faith we are nothing. The universe is a divine miracle, Galileo, not a clockwork toy; In this reprimand by Pope Urban in 1624 lies Galileo’s tragedy – he never understood his differences with the Church were not about reason, logic and scientific fact. They were about politics. When he finally came to realise this, it was too late.
Tim Hardy’s outstanding stage career includes work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Peter Brook’s production of Marat/Sade which played in London and on Broadway. West End stage includes Hotspur in Henry IV and Dauphin in Henry V opposite Tim Dalton and Rupert in Melon by Simon Gray, with Alan Bates, Lysistrata directed by Sir Peter Hall, and this year A Journey To Venice” at the Finborough Theatre, for which he has been nominated for an Offie Award. He has appeared in popular TV shows playing David Manners in EastEnders and Arthur Taylor in Oscar Wilde and films The Duellists, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Marat/Sade. He can now be seen as Father Pietra in Dangerous Liaisons on Starz.
Tim Hardy comments, I’ve been performing Nic Young’s text The Trials of Galileo since 2009 and we have created interest and debate – sometimes heated! – wherever we’ve gone. Galileo is one of the most famous ‘outsiders’ in history, and his story continues to enthral a modern audience because everything he faced, the moral choices he had to make, are as relevant to our society now as they ever were.
Tickets are available from £12 at https://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/