All events

Ovalhouse, Thomas Hescott and Matthew Baldwin

The Act created by Thomas Hescott and Matthew Baldwin

Created by Thomas Hescott and Matthew Baldwin

An astonishing exploration of the decriminalisation of gay sex in 1967, using personal anecdotes, verbatim House of Commons speeches and song in a powerful cabaret-style performance.

  • 8 - 26 October, Tuesday - Saturday 8:00pm. Previews 8 + 9 October.

Venue: Upstairs

Please note that, regrettably, the upstairs theatre is not currently accessible for wheelchair users.

The brilliance of The Act is that, even though it is a political satire, at its core it is far more personal. It is a funny, realistic and moving exploration of what it is like to live in fear of what you are and who you love. It is not only an extremely enjoyable play, but also a highly important one. 5* The Upcoming

It is a rarity to see something with such a clear historical placement feel so current and alive, and – more to the point – it is rare to find a show of this sort that is such an utter joy to experience. 5* What's Peen Seen

Matthew Baldwin is captivating for the duration on the show...He pulls it all off with humour, sensitivity and pathos and manages to illuminate a past era in society that is all too easy to forget in the current permissive climate. 4* Everything Theatre

If you want to get ahead in the civil service it helps to have friends in low places.

By day he was a respectable civil servant, but by night he could be found down the Dilly with the inverts and low lifes of the Soho underbelly.
It’s the final days for an underground community catapulted into the mainstream, and all because the Church of England believed in the decriminilisation of homosexuality.


This one-man tour de force returns to Ovalhouse as a full-length show after its success as a work-in-progress in our Counterculture 50 season earlier this year.


"I imagine everyone who has ever had room in their adolescent and, perhaps, more vulnerable adult heart, will enjoy such a brilliantly delivered piece."

A Younger Theatre

" Matthew Baldwin has to be one of the most impressive male actors I’ve ever had the pleasure to see on stage. ...a brilliant example of well-executed gay theatre."

The Gay Stage
  • Tue 8 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Wed 9 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Thu 10 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Fri 11 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Sat 12 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Tue 15 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Wed 16 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Thu 17 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Fri 18 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Sat 19 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Tue 22 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Wed 23 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Thu 24 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Fri 25 Oct, 8:00pm
  • Sat 26 Oct, 8:00pm

Thomas Hescott trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, with English National Opera and on the National Theatre Studio Directors Programme.
Most recently he was commissioned by Ovalhouse to create The Act as part of their 50th Anniversary season. In 2012 he was the Associate Director on Long Days Journey Into Night in the West End, and he spent three years working with Robert Wilson on The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic for the Manchester International Festival and on a European tour.
Credits as director include: Wolves At The Window (Arcola, and Off-Broadway) The British Ambassadors Belly Dancer (Arcola and Arts Theatre, West End) and Anatol (Arcola), Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Twelfth Night (Southwark Playhouse), Reunion (Bridewell), Our Thing (Gate)
Thomas was staff director on the original award-winning run of The History Boys (National Theatre) he was also Resident Director for the 2005 and 2006 seasons at the Chichester Festival Theatre. He has worked extensively as an assistant director across the country including The Royal Court, Shakespeare’s Globe, West Yorkshire Playhouse, and Birmingham Rep.
He is an Associate Artist for the National Youth Theatre, and was previously an Associate Director for Y Touring Theatre.

Matthew Baldwin trained at Drama Studio London. Most recently he played Abanazer in Get Aladdin (ATS at the Landor) and Barry in the short film Just Looking (Richard Johnson Productions). Other film work includes Dan in Love Bite (Hades Productions) and the Compere in Born Beautiful (Hades Productions). On TV he played a journalist in Material Girl (BBC). Other theatrical work includes Justiniano in Westward Ho (The White Bear), Solinus in Comedy of Errors (Courtyard), Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood Queen of Thieves (ATS), Lady Gargoyle in Sleeping Beauty, One Little Prick (ATS).

Additional information

A fuller development of the Ovalhouse Counterculture 50 commission.

Click an image to view a larger version.

We thought you may like…

The Lady’s Not for Walking Like an Egyptian by Mars.tarrab

Tues 19 - Sat 23 November 19:45pm. Preview 19 November. BSL Interpreted performance by Jacqui Beckford Saturday 23 November.

What do you get if you cross all of the words of Margaret Thatcher’s public speeches with all of the words of every top ten hit by a female artist from the 80s ?
Drag out your Lycra and your legwarmers. This is the 1980s like you’ve never seen them before. Or...exactly like you saw them before.

Two pictures side by side: one of a collaged record cover, the other of an old Afghani man standing next to a gravestone.

Songs For Breaking Britain by Hannah Nicklin | Rahimullah & Sons by The Plasticine Men

Wed 6 Nov – Sat 9 Nov, 8:00pm

Hannah Nicklin's 'theatre with punk music'  is paired with The Plasticine Men's story of The White Cemetery in Afghanistan and the people buried there across three centuries, in another intriguing You Might Also Like evening.

The Anatomy of Melancholy by Stan’s Cafe

Tue 26 Nov – Sat 30 Nov, 7:45pm

Stan’s Cafe’s playful and witty show is a guided tour through one of the most extraordinary works of English literature.