The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
Curtain up at 7:30pm
The story concerns a group of Edwardian working men who struggle to survive in a climate of greed, low pay, bullying foremen, debt, poor housing, unemployment and abject poverty. Or as Tressell himself said, ‘the story of 12 months in Hell told by one of the damned’. Certainly the character Joe Philpot feels like one of the damned, as he reflects on his miserable life before facing the challenge of ascending the dreaded 65 ladder. - ‘You see down there at the bottom of the hill? That’s the whole of my life down there. The shop where I was apprenticed. The church where I went to Sunday school as a boy, an where I was married as a young man. The graveyard where my missus is, an all my loved ones. An do you know what? Today I just feel that maybe it’s time I was down there with em. Almost a relief to be out of all of this’.
Owen, the central character, uses a series of ‘lectures’ and ‘The Great Money Trick’ in an attempt to show his workmates that the real cause of poverty is the capitalist system. But his demonstration falls mainly on deaf ears and the men return to the blind obedience of serving their masters.
MERLIN PRODUCTIONS INC: is a professional company formed to showcase new, classic and contemporary works. Their productions include ‘MALICE’ a story of Post Natal Depression, ‘FLORRIE DALY’ the story of a matriarch in post war Liverpool, ‘ENDGAME’ Samuel Beckett’s classic play, ‘PALS’ the definitive story of the Liverpool Pals Battalions who served so courageously during World War One, which was directed by the late Richard Gardiner. The plays performers are all actors from Merseyside, some of whom have been in earlier productions of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.
Robert Tressell, pen name of Robert Croker, who later changed it to Noonan, his mother’s maiden name, was born in Dublin on 17th April 1870. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists was first published in an abridged form in 1914 three years after the author’s death on 3rd February 1911 from pulmonary tuberculosis and he is buried in a pauper’s grave in Walton Park Cemetary, Liverpool.
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