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The Four Alice Bakers

Richard Armitage's second appearance at the Birmingham Rep was in The Four Alice Bakers, in spring 1999.

‘The Four Alice Bakers’ explores the issue of human cloning and individuality, a current issue in the 1990s when the cloning of Dolly the sheep, whose birth was announced in 1997, generated discussion of its implications for other species. 

Fay Weldon developed the play from her novel ‘The Cloning of Joanna May’ (1989), which had been adapted for television in 1992.  She frames the narrative using the device of a television talk programme, the ‘Harry Harper Ethical Show’, in which a bio-geneticist, who, it is revealed, has cloned his three daughters from his wife’s mammary tissue, is interrogated by its host.  The Guardian's theatre critic Michael Billington wrote: "Bill Alexander’s high energy production and Ruari Murchison’s design accurately reproduce the garish glitter of the TV talk show". [1]

Following previews, the play opened at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 23rd February 1999 for a three-week run, with a cast including Michael Cashman as Harry Harper, David Hargreaves as Richie Baker and the eighteen-year old Sophia Myles making her theatre debut.  It was directed by Bill Alexander. While the play itself gained few critical plaudits, its audiences were appreciative.

The story is told partly in flashback, and Richard Armitage played the role of Young Richie Baker, the younger incarnation (mid-twenties in one scene, thirties in a second) of Richie Baker, the bio-geneticist at the centre of the drama.  Richard had to be ‘aged’ to play the slightly older role.  In his first scene with Sophia Myles as the young Alice Baker, set in 1952, the couple dance a foxtrot to ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, he so badly that they give up and, in the course of three pages of dialogue, become engaged instead.


In Rehearsal

Above and right: Richard Armitage and Sophia Myles

(l to r) David Kendall (Dr Bennett), Richard Armitage and Bill Alexander (director)



[1] Michael Billington, The Guardian, 25th February 1999

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