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Hangmen - Reading

Production Company:

HANGMEN by Martin McDonagh

Director:   Dane Hardie

Reading:              Sunday 12th May 2024, 6.00 pm, Foyer

Auditions:           Sunday 19th May 2024, 6.00 pm, Coward/Yardley

Performances:  Tuesday 24th – Saturday 28th September 2024 (Auditorium)


In his small pub in Oldham, Harry is something of a local celebrity. But what’s the second-best hangman in England to do on the day they abolish hanging? Amongst the cub reporters and sycophantic pub regulars dying to hear Harry’s reaction to the news, a peculiar stranger lurks, with a very different motive for his visit.

A pitch-black Olivier Award-winning comedy from the master of darkness, Martin McDonagh, the multi-award-winning writer of plays The Pillowman, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and The Lieutenant of Innishmore, and the films The Banshees of Inisherin, In Bruges, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

“A sly throat-gripping mystery” The New York Times

"Tremendous, terrifying" The Observer

About the Playwright:

Martin McDonagh, a master of dark humour and gripping storytelling, has left an indelible mark on both stage and screen. Known for his razor-sharp wit and unflinching exploration of the human psyche, McDonagh’s works have captivated audiences worldwide. From the critically acclaimed "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" to his latest cinematic triumph, "Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri," McDonagh's portfolio is a testament to his unparalleled talent in weaving tales that leave audiences both spellbound and introspective.

Play Synopsis:

Enter the world of "Hangmen," a black comedy that dances on the edge of taboo with fearless finesse. Set against the backdrop of 1960s England, this gripping tale unfolds in a small northern town, where the echoes of a hanging reverberate long after the deed is done.

Meet Harry Wade, the second-best hangman in the land, whose pub serves as a nexus for gossip, intrigue, and dark secrets. As the spectre of abolition looms over Britain, Harry finds himself grappling with the ghosts of his past and the uncertainty of his future.  When a mysterious stranger, Mooney, darkens Harry's doorstep, the stage is set for a thrilling game of cat and mouse. With tensions simmering and allegiances shifting, Harry and his cronies are thrust into a perilous dance of power and deception.

As the plot twists and turns, McDonagh masterfully navigates the murky waters of morality and justice, leaving audiences on the edge of their seats until the final, chilling curtain call.


Harry Wade  (Male - 50’s)

The central character who runs the pub.  Harry, in his 50s, is a commanding presence, exuding the charisma of a local celebrity and former chief hangman. A bluff, blunt, and proud Northerner, he navigates the complexities of his past with turns of aggression, ultimately revealing his deep-seated insecurities. A Lancashire accent is a must.

Peter Mooney (Male - 20’s)

Charismatic and mysterious with an odd sense of humour.  Mooney, in his 20s, possesses a magnetic charm and a peculiar sense of humour that keeps others intrigued. Originally played by Johnny Flynn, Mooney is a Londoner with a unique vibe that sets him apart. A London accent is essential.

Syd Armfield  (Male - 50’s)

Harry’s assistant, somewhat inept with a crafty side.  Syd, in his 50s, serves as Harry's assistant, revealing a crafty nature beneath his seemingly inept exterior. He stutters under stress but manages to be more cunning than expected. A Lancashire accent is a requirement.

Alice Wade  (Female - 50’s)

The landlady, a proud woman running the pub with her husband.  Alice, in her 50s, is the resilient landlady who runs the pub alongside her husband, Harry. She is a proud woman with a Lancashire accent, giving as good as she gets. Her attempts at bonding with her daughter reveal a layered character with occasional emotional vulnerabilities.

Shirley Wade  (Female – 15)

The teenage daughter, plain, shy, with a dry sense of humour.  Shirley, 15, is the teenage daughter of the publicans. Despite being described as plain, she possesses a quiet, dry sense of humour and a shy demeanour. The role requires an actor 18+ who can convincingly portray the character's age. A Lancashire accent is a necessity.

Derek Clegg  (Male - 20s)

Sly and out of his depth, a cub reporter. Clegg, in his 20s, is a sly and somewhat inexperienced cub reporter. Out of his depth, he teases for his baby-face and gradually discovers his journalistic side. A Lancashire accent is required.

Inspector George Fry  (Male - 50's)

Plain clothes police inspector, physically intimidating yet weak deep down.  Inspector Fry, in his 50s, is a physically intimidating, high-status police inspector. Despite his loner status, a weakness lurks beneath the surface. A Lancashire accent is a must.  The role also involves playing a PRISON GUARD with a London accent.

Arthur  (Male – 60s to 70s)

Regular at the bar, dry, deadpan, and tactless.  Arthur, aged 60 to 75, is a regular at the bar. With a touch of deafness and slowness, he provides comic relief by laughing at jokes that others have moved on from. His dry, deadpan, and tactless demeanour adds a unique flavour. A Lancashire accent is essential.  The role also involves playing the PRISON GOVERNOR with a London accent.

Charlie (Male - Late 30’s to early 50’s)

The mediator between others, engaging by laughingly repeating. Charlie, aged late 30s to early 50s, serves as the mediator within the group. Engaging by laughingly repeating what others say, he contributes to the camaraderie. A Lancashire accent is essential. The role also involves playing a PRISON GUARD with a London accent.

Bill  (Male - Late 30’s to early 50’s)

The pub's innocent, alcoholic.  Bill, aged late 30s to early 50s, is the pub's innocent but struggles with alcoholism. His character adds depth to the dynamics of the pub. A Lancashire accent is required.  The role also involves playing the PRISON DOCTOR with a London accent.

Albert Pierrepoint  (Male - 60’s)

Appears only in the final scene, a charismatic and dominating presence.  Albert Pierrepoint, aged 60s, is a high-status, smartly dressed, and quick-witted character. Charismatic and dominating, he becomes Harry’s nemesis, taking command in the most inopportune moment. A Lancashire accent is essential.

James Hennessy (Male - 20’s)

Cheeky, emotional, protests his innocence.  James Hennessy, in his 20s, is a cheeky and emotional character. Facing imminent hanging, he vehemently protests his innocence and must be physically restrained. The role demands emotional depth and versatility.


Audition Details:

Prepare to immerse yourself in McDonagh's world of dark comedy and moral ambiguity. The reading will be held on 12th May, with auditions following a week later on 19th May, offering actors a chance to bring these richly drawn characters to life.

Whether you're drawn to the enigmatic Harry Wade, the cunning Mooney, or any of the other captivating roles within the play, we welcome performers of all backgrounds and experience levels to join us on this unforgettable journey.   Don't miss your chance to be part of something truly extraordinary.

Dane Hardie



Play readings are not just for prospective actors, but for anyone who would like to join in reading the play – or just listen to it being read.  The readings are informal social occasions when the bar is open - we enjoy meeting new people and welcoming them to our club.  There is no obligation to audition for the play or even to read – and there’s no need to book, just turn up!

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