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Spies betray people. That’s what we do. It becomes a – a habit. Difficult to break – even when it’s not – not strictly necessary.
Wormwood Scrubs Prison, London, 1961. One of Britain’s most notorious double agents, George Blake, is serving a forty-two year sentence when he strikes up an unlikely friendship with Irish petty criminal, Sean Bourke. Both men are eccentric outsiders. Each sees in each other the possibility of escape and not just from prison. But once on the outside their mutual dependence faces mounting pressures from MI5, the KGB and indeed from themselves.
Simon Gray’s absorbing and deftly funny play explores how personal freedom is an illusion and how even friendship must have careful boundaries in a world where deception is a reflex response.
Cell Mates premiered at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, in January 1995 before transferring to the Albery Theatre, London. The play was revived at the Hampstead Theatre, London, in November 2017.
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