“Love isn’t forever. Love is just passing by…”
Rik Makarem and James Cartwright are to star in Martin Sherman’s ground-breaking play Passing By, which opens at the Tristan Bates Theatre this November. Rik Makarem, who plays Toby, was one of the regular characters in Emmerdale, as well as having starred in BBC’s Torchwood and ITV’s Foyle’s War. Alongside him is James Cartwright who will be playing Simon; he is well-known from The History Boys, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and Hollyoaks and was awarded ‘Best Actor’ by the Royal Television Society for his role in Johnny Shakespeare.
Passing By is a charming romantic comedy about the love between two men whose hearts pull them together as their lives pull them apart. Director Andrew Keates said: “It’s a privilege to work with such exciting and talented actors and to finally bring Martin’s lost play to the audiences we feel it has always deserved. Martin wrote this extraordinary play for audiences who could appreciate a delicate love story without homosexuality being the elephant in the room.”
Plays such as Passing By allow us to reflect on how far our attitudes have progressed. When Simon Callow starred in the original Gay Sweatshop production of Passing By in 1975, he commented it “was utterly radical in offering no apology or explanation for the affair… The defensive, the reflexive, the self-protective mask was shed, and shy, tender, loving emotion flowed gently round the tiny auditorium.”
Set in New York in 1972, designer Philip Lindley transports us to a bygone era in this heartfelt portrayal of a revolutionary exploration of intimacy, vulnerability and the human heart. The honesty of the play is inspiring; there is no sense of condescension or apology, but a realistic recognition of a moment of truth that is at once heart-breaking and liberating. Martin Sherman’s play, which feels uncomfortably prescient in foreshadowing the future in its portrait of two new lovers facing an illness together, is also more positively a work of quiet but overwhelming power that makes no apology or excuse for the men reaching out to each other and falling in love (Mark Shenton, The Stage).
Martin Sherman is the author of the multi-award-winning Bent (one of the National Theatre’s one hundred most significant plays of the twentieth century), Messiah, When She Danced, Rose and the film Mrs Henderson Presents.
In 2012, Arion Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre, revived Passing By to sell-out audiences. This production at Tristan Bates Theatre is supported by Arts Council England.
James Cartwright as Simon. Rik Makarem as Toby.
Directed by Andrew Keates.
Designed by Philip Lindley. Costume Design by Philippa Batt. Lighting Design by Jack Weir.
Music by Matthew Strachan. Sound Design by Fred Riding. Casting by Benjamin Newsome.
Originally produced by Arion Productions at the Finborough Theatre (Neil McPherson, Artistic Director).
All photographs by Scott Rylander. Music by Matthew Strachan.
All photographs by Scott Rylander
“a timeless, comedic gem”
“As one of the very first plays to treat gay relationships as unapologetically equal, Passing By’s place in the history of gay theatre deserves wider recognition. Andrew Keates’ masterful revival should therefore be a source of pride, in every sense.”
Scott Matthewman, The Stage
“The acting is impeccably intelligent. Both men play expertly off each other and use silence and pace to achieve an unusually accomplished balance between poignancy and humour.”
“Director Andrew Keates and his team, including Philip Lindley’s slightly shabby set so evocative of the 70s, get the tone absolutely right.”
★★★★★ Susan Elkin, WhatsOnStage
“As we’ve come to expect from an Andrew Keates production, it’s directed with a delicacy of touch and a firm handle on pace, bringing the story fully to life.”
“Passing By is a terrific revival of a great play. If you haven’t seen it before, don’t pass up this opportunity.”
★★★★★ Greg Jameson, Entertainment Focus
“a beautifully crafted, almost traditional, well-made play, shot through with warmth and emotional intelligence.”
“Sherman’s genius – not a word I use often – is to show the relationship not through sex, not through extravagant expressions of emotion, but through physical caring.”
“James Cartwright (Simon) and Rik Makarem (Toby) are beautifully cast as the contrasting lovers, and play off each other as if they’ve known each other all their lives. These are the nuanced, affectionate and committed performances the script deserves, and director Andrew Keates lays bare without fuss the subtext, what is said and felt in the space between the words.”
★★★★★ Peter Scott-Presland, Broadway Baby
“the perfect start to a date”
★★★★ Phil Wilmott, Attitude Magazine
“it is written with such verve, timeless humour and unexpected poignancy that by the end you’ll barely notice you’ve sat through a straight 90 minute run.”
“Just like their love, both characters are full of flaws which are deftly drawn with tenderness and charm under the direction of Andrew Keates”
“When so much in London is dominated by the bombast of bigger shows, the intimacy of small theatre effects style a different, more vital style of acting not to be missed.”
★★★★ Anna Savva, The Lady
“The performances are excellent, both in detail and what is not said”
“Beautifully directed by Andrew Keates”
“Grab a ticket and get along, a beautiful piece of theatre”
★★★★ Petra Schofield, Remotegoat
“Their love is extraordinary not because it is between two men but because it is so true”
“Keates handles the play with the delicacy and love it deserves and it shows – this is one of those rare and beautiful productions that demands recognition”
“What is unsubtle is the play’s unapologetic presentation of gay equality with one of the sweetest romances I’ve seen on stage yet”
★★★★ Rowena Hawkins, Plays To See
“Passing By is an enjoyable story which is performed brilliantly by Makarem and Cartwright, and which boasts strong directing and set design. The revival of this touching and heartwarming production is a credit to all involved. I found myself wishing it had lasted longer than 80 minutes.”
★★★★ Laura Jones, Everything Theatre
“a superb West End-quality production”
“Passing By has plenty of humour, but never to the expense of character development”
★★★★ Shona Barker, Views From the Gods
“a little gem of a production that tells the story of a brief affair between two gay men without any clichés or melodrama.”
“A heartfelt portrayal of a sensitive but complicated romantic encounter.”
Victoria Sadler, The Huffington Post
“Passing By is a play that rests on the naturalism of its dialogue and the interplay between the two lead characters. It has been quite a long time since I have seen a production that allows the play to seem so unencumbered; in part this is because the majority of the play is set in one location but credit must also go to Andrew Keates unfussy direction.”
Tim Read, A Civilians Guide to Theatre
“James Cartwright and Rik Makarem meet all of this criteria and under the sensitive and meticulous direction we have grown to expect from Andrew Keates, they manage to create a relationship which seems completely real and believable.”
“With the wonderful balance of truth in both the writing and the production, Passing By packs a real punch which makes for a rather emotional, but also indirectly uplifting evening of theatre.”
David Coverdale, Bargain Theatreland