A Modest Little Man - The Bread & Roses Theatre

Tuesday 27 November 2018

London Fringe - Shows

Celebrated contemporary historian and playwright Francis Beckett is to present A Modest Little Man, a comedy about Labour post-war Prime Minister Clement Attlee, from 15 January.
A Modest Little Man att The Bread & Roses Theatre

Image: The Bread & Roses Theatre

Longest serving leader of the Labour Party, Clement Attlee, became Prime Minister in 1945, having served as Deputy Prime Minister in Winston Churchill's War Cabinet.

The landslide victory in the 1945 general election Attlee achieved enabled him to undertake the nationalisation of key industries, to adopt Keynsian policies to maintain full employment and to establish the National Health Service.

Not everyone was impressed by Attlee, with one description citing him as a "modest little man with plenty to be modest about".

Now, in his play which borrows its title from that quote, celebrated contemporary historian and playwright Francis Beckett will present a comedy about Attlee which will run at the Bread & Roses Theatre from 15 to 26 January 2019.

About the playwright

Francis Beckett is an author, journalist, broadcaster, playwright and contemporary historian.

His 20 books include biographies of four Prime Ministers, and he edited a series of 20 biographies, Prime Ministers of the Twentieth Century.

He wrote a highly praised biography of Clem Attlee - a new and updated edition is published by Haus Publishing (2015).

His latest book is Jeremy Corbyn and the Strange Rebirth of Labour England (Biteback, 2018).

Recent books also include Fascist in the Family (Routledge, 2017), a memoir of his own father, the Labour MP turned fascist John Beckett.

His last play The London Spring enjoyed a three week London fringe run in 2012.


May 1945.

Britain celebrates victory over Hitler and cheer Winston Churchill.

But things have changed.

The poor don't want to go back to the way things were.

They remember the thirties.

It was a time of poverty, unemployment, starvation, in the midst of ostentatious wealth.

They don't want that again.

The men and women who fought the war want a better world.

They want the rich to pay a bit more, so the poor can suffer a bit less.

They want a national health service.

Pay when they're unemployed, so their families don't starve.

Education for everyone, so that no one grows up unable to read or write.

They want the Labour Party to deliver it.

But Labour is led by a nonentity - "a modest little man with plenty to be modest about."

He says almost nothing.

He sits in his grey suit and puffs his pipe.

One wit remarked: "An empty taxi drew up and Clement Attlee got out."

No charisma, no revolutionary passion.

Even if, by some miracle, he wins an election against the great Winston Churchill, this grey little man can't make a revolution.

There's no hope.

There's nothing in him.

Is there?


Roger Rose - Clem Attlee

Lynne O'Sullivan - Violet Attlee

Steven Maddocks - Herbert Morrison

Clive Greenwood - the vicar, King George VI, Nye Bevan, Ernest Bevin

Silas Hawkins - Winston Churchill, Hugh Dalton, E.H. Carr

Charlotte Campbell - Rose and Jennie Lee


Author: Francis Beckett
Director: Owain Rose
Lighting: Michael Alexander
Sound: Michael Alexander
Production: Labour England


The Bread & Roses Theatre
68 Clapham Manor St


From: Tuesday 15 January 2019

Closed: Saturday 26 January 2019


Standard: £12

Concessions: £10


Show website
ActDrop full listing for A Modest Little Man

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