By Abi Morgan


“Splendour” is the most relevant piece of theatre for our time.

In decadent state splendour on one side of town, world famous photo-journalist Kathryn awaits the soon-to-be deposed dictator. On the other, civil war rages. It gradually becomes clear to all, he has fled, leaving his Prada-wearing wife, Micheleine to entertain the woman. She does so with the aid of Gilma, a greasy-lipped, kleptomaniac interpreter. As the avenging crowd gets closer - hungry for blood - Micheleine offers Kathryn a somewhat different photo opportunity. Not the shot of the heroic dictator, but the 'before and after' of his kitten-heeled wife. After all, as Kathryn has realised, behind every great man…. How can she refuse?

Abi Morgan is a prolific writer whose credits include the Thatcher biopic, The Iron Lady, and the TV series, The Hour, set in a BBC current affairs department during the 1956 Hungarian revolution. But this early play, first seen at the Edinburgh Traverse in 2000, shows Morgan’s continuing fascination with the fragility of power and the unreliability of language. It is short, demanding and riveting.


  • Kath Yates - 19 February 2020

    If you have a free evening tomorrow and can get to Milton Keynes go and see this play. Fantastic actors and brilliantly directed. A thought- provoking, at times amusing, clever and incredibly relevant piece of theatre. Get a ticket!

  • Bart Gamber - 19 February 2020

    I’ve just been to see Splendour at Stantonbury Theatre and had a brilliant time! It’s on for two more nights so hustle down there if you are in MK this weekend!

    The play is like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, revealing its mysteries in fragmented moments. This fragmentary nature is a bit disorientating at first but within the first ten minutes or so, you get swept up in the building tension and the tantalising subtext of revolution, class struggle, murder and betrayal.

    I love this cast. The nature of the play must have made learning the lines and structure a Herculean task and all four women were fantastic. Beverley Webster is a magnetic presence, and her character is wonderfully played as a whirling storm of pretence, privilege, panic and a desperate desire to exert control over a world that is disintegrating around her.

    Carly Halse is brilliant as ever, humming with frustration and contempt. What comes through most memorably with Carly and the rest of this terrific cast, though, is the journey that brought them all to this moment, played with sensitivity and skill.

    Rosemary Hill and The Play’s The Thing have delivered a cracking show – great direction, great set, great lighting design, great sound. This is a polished and impressive production.

    Bravo to all, many congrats on a memorable show you should all be proud of.

  • Caroline Nash - 19 February 2020

    Thanks Rosemary and a massive well done for tonight. A great job

  • Mary Halse - 19 February 2020

    Riveted to the seat the whole time. You all smashed it. If you are free peeps go see it

  • Sabine Broecker - 19 February 2020

    We’ve just come back from seeing “Splendour” tonight and I have to say we are in awe of the playwriting, production, staging and the brilliance of all actors! This is a play we will not forget in a hurry. Very moving! Thank you to all at The Play’s The Thing for such a brilliant performance.

  • Jo Jackson-Hale - 19 February 2020

    Wow, just wow! The final word was spoken and the audience left feeling fulfilled by the depth, poignancy and complexity of this wonderful play. Layer upon layer gradually peeled away. Carly Halse you and your fellow actors were simply fabulous and we were so glad we came. Thank you.

  • April Pardoe - 19 February 2020

    Just home from seeing the fascinating and multi-layered play “Splendour”. This is a play that slowly reels you in to all the different elements and you don’t always know who you should be sympathetic to as there is always another piece of the orange to be revealed. The small but perfectly formed cast of 4 excellent actresses delivered an intense and powerful performance with particular credit to the pathos and delicacy of Beverley Webster and the steely yet vulnerable Carly Halse and is beautifully directed by the amazing Rosemary Hill. A production like this doesn’t come along very often so if you can to see it tomorrow do. You won’t regret it.

  • Kelly Golding - 19 February 2020

    Just came back from seeing “Splendour” by Abi Morgan at Stantonbury Theatre, MK directed and produced by Rosemary Hill. The play is fascinating as the layers are peeled back as the play progresses, as the same incident is presented again and again from the different perspectives of the four complex female characters before their fates at a crucial moment are revealed. It keeps the audience senses keen, as the journey of the characters can surprise the audiences. Congratulations to the cast, who turned out really strong performances, especially Beverley Webster. This is not an easy play, but it was well executed, so well done to the whole creative team. Last performance is tomorrow, get along and catch it is you can.

  • Sue Whyte - 19 February 2020

    I’ve been spoilt this week, two very strong and powerful local theatre productions. Tonight was the turn of “Splendour” directed by Rosemary Hill and performed by The Play’s The Thing Theatre Company. Four very strong female characterisations (yes, female – that’s rare in itself!) that it is wrong to single one actress out, but Micheleine, around whom the stories of the remaining three women pivot, is the central lynchpin of the piece. Without a powerful performance in this role the play could fall apart but Beverley Webster is a commanding presence who allows the other actresses on stage; Lisa Stenhouse, Carly Halse and Sarah Dyas; to explore and develop their relationships with her creating tense and emotional moments throughout the play. BUT WHERE WERE THE MILTON KEYNES AUDIENCE???? A lot of the people there tonight were from Northampton!! OK, Stantonbury Theatre may not be in the centre of the city, and sometimes its advertising promotion needs to be a bit stronger, but it puts on some brilliant, quality theatre at a very reasonable price. So MK, you’ve only got one night left to catch this production. Go and get a ticket – and then put yourself down on the Stantonbury Campus Theatre mailing list!

  • Lisa - 19 February 2020

    What a fantastic evening at the theatre.

    This is a complex and multi-layered play. Rosemary Hill plots a confident and cohesive course through this fascinating play. It’s like a hall of mirrors where you are never quite sure if you’re looking a real person or a reflection. Time plays tricks throughout the play and each time a particular scene is revisited a layer of varnish has been removed.

    With all 4 characters on stage throughout the play, the writing and direction asks an enormous amount of focus, subtlety and skill from its cast . Fortunately this cast has all of the above in spades.

    In the salon of a palace 4 women come together as revolution approaches. The sound of explosions and gunfire coming ever closer.

    Beverley Webster (Micheleine) plays the Dictator’s Wife. She’s desperate to maintain the facade that everything is fine despite the increasing evidence to the contrary. I really loved this character, she’s morally ambiguous. Of all the characters I feel she reveals the least which is fascinating when the other characters are to a greater extent laid bare in this play. I do wonder how much this character knew or even had a greater hand in the atrocities taking place in the north of the country? This is testament to Beverley’s wonderful portrayal.

    Lisa Stenhouse (Genevieve) Micheleine’s oldest (and most loyal?) friend. Lisa gives us a performance which takes us from simpering sidekick to something much darker, angrier and, to my mind, tragic. Has she been waiting all these years, sacrificing so much, just to be present to witness Micheleine’s fall? I have to be very careful here not to put in any spoilers, so I’ll just say for me, my highlight of the play was when we learn why Genevieve’s hair and coat are in the state they are when she arrives. It was something that struck me when the play started and when the reason is revealed it was so beautifully moving. Thank you

  • Sean Calvert - 19 February 2020

    Carly Halse (Kathryn) A western photographer here to take pictures of Micheleine’s husband. Carly is always great to watch on stage and her performance of this driven, prickly woman does not disappoint. Here’s a character that has witnessed the atrocities carried out by the leader of the regime she’s here to photograph. Again Carly brings us a fully formed, multi-dimensional character. She’s a forienger here and needs the help of her translator and guide, Gilma

    Sarah Dyas (Gilma) You have got to watch this one! Gilma is the translator for Kathryn and as an audience we are party to her playful approach to the role. She’s very sticky fingered and pockets a number of items throughout the play. Sarah has such brilliant comic timing finding humour in unexpected places.

    Hats off to the team on lighting and sound. So much of this play is about timing and delivery and the tech team hit the mark throughout the play. By design there is a point toward the end of the play where the sound of explosions was so loud as the revolution came closer that we all leaned forward to hear what was being said on stage. Just shows how invested we all were in these characters.

    Once again Rosemary has teamed up with Designer Kevin Jenkins and Lighting Designer James Tearle. The set certainly brings the Splendour from the play’s title and the lighting at the large window is superbly atmospheric.

    This really is a play for our times and I would highly recommend going to see this.

    Massive thanks to all involved.

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