The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Sisterly guest post


Adapted by Jethro Compton from the short story by Dorothy M. Johnson

Directed by Jethro Compton

Cast: Paul Albertson, Oliver Lansley, Lanre Malaolu, James Marlowe, Robert G Slade, Robert Vaughn (voice), Niamh Walsh, Hayden Wood

Synopsis: When a young scholar from New York City travels west in search of a new life he arrives beaten and half-dead on the dusty streets of Twotrees. Rescued from the plains, the town soon becomes his home as he finds the love of a local girl. This love gives him purpose in a broken land, but is it enough to save him from the vicious outlaw who wants him dead? He must make the choice: to turn and run or to stand for what he believes, to live or to fight… to become the man who shot Liberty Valance.

Park Theatre, Park 200, Wednesday 28th May, 2014

Having heard about the Park Theatre at Finsbury Park around the time it opened and then promptly forgetting about it (it’s an age thing, I guess. My memory is slowly fading, along with my eyesight), I was glad to be reminded by the media coverage of its first birthday party a few weeks ago, with the likes of Ian McKellen, Alan Rickman, Benedict Cumberbatch and Celia Imrie attending. With the theatre back on my radar and my imminent departure to London I checked out their website and was intrigued by both plays currently on. I decided on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and booked my ticket.

What came next has been a wonderful theatre experience.

A Western on stage? And in such an intimate space as a 200 seat theatre in North London? And yet, it works beautifully. The stage design was very well made, the production solid and the cast excellent all around. The play is adapted not from the famous 1962 film with James Stewart, John Wayne and Lee Marvin, but the short story the film is based on. It also introduces an original character. Oliver Lansley is a wonderfully nuanced Ransom Foster, Niamh Walsh a delightfully feisty Hallie Jackson, you really root for Lanre Malaolu’s “Reverend” Jim, and James Marlowe is absolutely excitingly terrifying as the ruthless outlaw Liberty Valance (I will follow his career closely from now on, I suggest you do the same). The story is very well written and equally well told, with fluid scene changes using music and the voice of Robert Vaughn as the narrator.

The Park Theatre itself is a great space with two very intimate theatres and box office that doubles as a café bar. I strongly advise everyone to visit this wonderful theatre, regardless of what’s on, I don’t think Artistic Director Jez Bond and his team can do wrong. And please donate when buying your tickets, they’re ridiculously cheap anyway, and the Park Theatre does not receive public funding.


Watch the official trailer:


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