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Third Angel and Sheffield Theatres present


Performed by Chris Thorpe, Rachael Walton (2006 & 2016) & Lucy Ellinson (2007-2009 & 2015)
Devised by Alexander Kelly, Chris Thorpe & Rachael Walton
Directed and Designed by Alexander Kelly & Rachael Walton
Lighting Design by James Harrison
Music and Sound Design by David Mitchell
Technical Manager & Re-light: Martin Fuller
Touring Stage Manager: Helen Fagelman
Set Construction: Vision Works
Management: Hilary Foster & Tracey Doxey

Supported by Sheffield Theatres through The Pyramid Project and funded by Arts Council England.

Presumption premiered at Sheffield Theatres in May 2006, and toured the UK in 2007. Selected for the British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2007, and also presented in Florence, Lisbon, Mannheim, Clonmel, Barcelona, Yerevan and Brussels, the show toured until 2009. It was revived in 2015 for performances at Sheffield Theatres and Northern Stage the following year.

Read more about Presumption on the blog:
On Editing, Paradise & Presumption
Presumption Rehearsals 2015
Notes On A Revival
Back to the Dinner Table

The text of Presumption is in the collection There’s A Room, which is available through Drama Online and from Bloomsbury

Full length documentation of the 2015 production of Presumption at Sheffield Theatres.


A bare stage. Bare that is, except for the white lines marking out the (sometimes multiple) placements of a domestic environment. Furniture. Objects. Stuff.

Beth and Tom, the generic thirtysomething couple of our time. They play out the same situations over and over again. Questions asked, answers not listened to.
Presumption is a show about love. Not romantic, thrill of passion love, not unconditional, unquestioned love. Everyday what shall we have for dinner, will you be in later, expecting to go on living together - well what else would we do? - love.
A table, six chairs. Precariously carried, precisely placed. Start the scene: after the dinner party, guests have gone. Stop. More furniture required. Start again. From the top.

Programme Note: Best Laid Plans (original production, 2006)

Presumption began life as a work-in-progress called Best Laid Plans, shown as part of the Sheffield Theatres’ Pyramid Festival in May 2005: four nights of works-in-progress, mini-lectures, film & video work, music and after-show discussion presented by the Pyramid Project partner companies: Dead Earnest, Unlimited Theatre and ourselves.
Best Laid Plans
itself was a theatrical experiment, starting with an idea for the first moments of a show. It developed into a 30 minute solo piece, with Rachael on (and off) stage, building her domestic environment around her. A male character was referred to but never appeared. At the time we weren’t sure if we had the first half an hour of a show, or a full length piece condensed to 30 minutes. As is often the case, it turns out that what we had was something between the two.
Making the show, the process has been, as ever, one of exploration, enquiry and discussion: figuring out for ourselves what it is about that original performance task that so intrigues us, why it speaks to us and how it articulates what the show is about. Things change and events turn out differently to how we expect. As rehearsals come to an end it feels entirely appropriate, given its subject matter, that Presumption is not exactly either of the possibilities that we envisaged after Best Laid Plans. It is recognisable, but different.

Programme Note 2: Notes on a Revival

It’s not, technically, a revival. We never took Presumption out of repertoire. It’s always been available for touring. It’s just that we hadn’t performed it, we realised last autumn, for six years.

We made Presumption in early 2006, and presented it for a week in Crucible Studio in Sheffield, performed by Rachael and Chris. The following year, Rachael redirected the show with Lucy Ellinson in her role, and the piece went on tour in the UK, and to the Intercity Festival in Florence, before a week at the Edinburgh Fringe as part of the British Council Showcase in August 2007. This in turn led more international bookings, and over the next 18 months Presumption became our most performed show with gigs in Brussels, Barcelona, Clonmell, Moscow, Yerevan, Mannheim and Lisbon, before returning for runs in London, Leicester and a great one-off show at ARC in Stockton.

Back in October 2015, we remounted the touring version of Presumption, with Lucy and Chris, in Sheffield, to mark our 20th Anniversary as a company. At the time Lucy remarked that usually, when you stop doing a show after a long run, it’s like taking a piece of furniture out of your living room. You miss it at first, but gradually the indentations in the carpet fade. With Presumption, she said, the indentations have never completely gone. And when it came to rehearsal, she and Chris found that the show wasn’t buried too deeply in their memories.


For these performances in Newcastle we’re returning to the original pairing of Chris and Rachael. Coming back to the show after all this time, we’ve been surprised how recent, how familiar, it still feels. We’ve carried on with our lives, of course, and all our family situations are different to when we made the show. The world is different, too, in some ways, to when we were touring it. But we’ve resisted the temptation to ‘update’ the show, or rather, the references it makes to the world beyond its walls. The conversation they’re having feels like it remains current.


As noted above, this not-revival of Presumption is being staged as one of the events to mark Third Angel’s 20th Anniversary as a company. That achievement would not have been possible without the support of many people, and the staff and audiences at Northern Stage have been an important part of that. For many years now Northern Stage has felt like a home-from-home for us. We’re grateful for your interest in the work, and the conversations we get to have with you about it. Thank you.

Alexander Kelly & Rachael Walton, January 2016

There's lots more information about making and touring Third Angel projects 2008-2017 on our original blog, and 2017-2023 on the blog on this site.