"Shepherd has crafted an enthralling confrontation that superbly sustains the delicate balance between the self-effacing nuts-and-bolts humanism of Paine and the vulnerable fiery politics of Blake. A rare treat." (James Christopher, Independent)
William Blake, the poet and artist was born in London in 1757. He became an apprentice engraver at the age of 14 and remained poor throughout his life. He believed fervently in the revolution of the inner man, that only personal salvation and spiritual regeneration could acheive a better world, fearing that social revolution would only replace one tyranny with another. Blake died in 1827. Thomas Paine, the political thinker and revolutionary, was born 20 years before Blake in Thetford, Norfolk. An active figure in both the American and French revolutions in England he was considered a traitor and in 1791 fled across the channel to France. After a period of imprisonment during 'The Terror' (1793-4), he returned to America, where he died in 1809 reviled by the Christian fundamentalists for what they saw as the profanity of his beliefs.
Against this background In Lambeth which starred Bob Peck and Michael Maloney in its London premiere, shows Tom Paine going to pay his respects to William Blake. "Out of their encounter, Shepherd's play orchestrates a fascinating clash between two types of revolutionary: the idealistic visionary and the principled pragmatist." (Paul Taylor, Independent)
"In his beautiful new play…Shepherd has captured the essence of both men and has found them a magical location and a good moment in history in which to meet." (Time Out)
"Charm is not a quality one would immediately associate with either William Blake or Tom Paine, but Jack Shepherd's play about a meeting between the two in 1791 has it in abundance." (The Times)