Fresh look at Philanthropists

Neil Gore and Rodney Matthew star in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at the Eastgate Theatre next Saturday
Neil Gore and Rodney Matthew star in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at the Eastgate Theatre next Saturday
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THE Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is set more than 100 years ago, but Robert Tressell’s classic piece is as fresh today as it was in 1910.

Focused on a group of painters and decorators struggling for survival in a stagnating Edwardian England, the story examines the struggles and trials of the protagonists, which many will see as all too familiar in the current economic climate.

Stephen Lowe has scripted a version of the Socialist classic as a play for Townsend Productions.

A spokesperson for the theatre group, who have been sponsored by a series of trade unions for their UK tour, said: “This enduring and absorbing classic story is brought to life by Neil Gore and Rodney Matthew, two hugely talented and experienced performers, using comedy routines and entertaining songs of the Music Hall, with a few surprises along the way.”

Robert Tressell was born in Dublin in 1871 of a middle-class family. But after moving to South Africa as a teenager to work as a sign-writer and house painter, he returned to England to find the country in an economic depression.

With the British socialist movement gathering space, he joined the Socialist Democratic Federation before dying of TB in 1911 and being buried in a pauper’s grave. An abridged version of his novel came out three years later, but the full text was not published until 1956.

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, next Saturday, February 11 at 8pm. Tickets are priced at £13 and available from 01721 725777.