Stepping Out

Fallen Angel Theatre


Simon James Collier

in association with

The Blue Elephant Theatre


Stairway to Heaven

By Steve Hennessy

Directed by Chris Loveless


stairway1.jpg (296179 bytes)


stairway3.jpg (171499 bytes)


stairway2.jpg (242480 bytes)

Stairway To Heaven – Review from The Stage

by Paul Vale

It is 2700BC and the building site of Cheops’ Pyramid is a crucible of burning passions and feverish superstitions. This interesting play by Steve Hennessy ventures to show life on one of the most frightening building sites ever to have existed.

Even before the curtains are raised a member of the team has been crushed to death and the reaction to this by the other characters immediately sets the tone of the play… Hennessy builds on this, creating a plot that touches upon both the carnal and the spiritual… Nicholas Cass-Beggs and Matthew Ward are two of the hardened workers on the site. Cass-Beggs as the amiable Hiksos blends work-site humour with an undercurrent of dog-eat-dog, whilst Matthew Ward as Geb is more reminiscent of an ageing, affectionate schoolboy.

James Ronan appears slightly deranged as Makhthon, the frightened newcomer pursued by James French’s Merab, the cruel overseer. The team of four actors, under Chris Loveless’ direction work hard to create their illusion and… there is some quite touching and imaginative acting taking place.


Stairway to Heaven - Review from The British Theatre Guide...

Review by Sandra Giorgetti (2010)

The action of Stairway to Heaven takes place on a building site in Egypt some 3,000 years BC. We are not told why young Makhthon has joined the crew building Cheops' Pyramid but he seems ill-suited to the harsh working environment and his first day gets off to bad start when one of the workers is crushed under a falling stone.

Youthfully naive Makhthon is an easy target for his more worldly-wise co-workers Hiksos and Geb and the sexually predatory gang leader Merab. They are each rough and base, out for what they can get for themselves, whilst Makhthon writes poetry and is captivated by the wonder of the morning star.

In such a brutal and brutalising environment Makhthon becomes easily enraptured by the majesty of the Pharaoh, the Sun God Amun Ra, when he visits the site, but what starts as a crush becomes an obsession that has fatal consequences.

But what drives this choice of escape route? Is it an intense, self-fuelling religious fervour, sun stroke, a vulnerable mental state or the quantity of beer he drinks mixed with intense physical work in unrelenting heat?

Nicholas Cass-Beggs plays dissembling Hiksos well, gradually revealing just how devious you have to be in order to survive. Geb, the nearest thing Makhthon has to a friend, is played with conviction by Matthew Ward who also delivers most of the humour of the piece with comic ease.

The uncertainty of James Ronan's Makhthon contrasts well with James French's malign Merab... Stairway to Heaven remains a surprisingly funny and interesting piece.


Review from Boyz Magazine

boyzmag.jpg (846248 bytes)


Cheops’ Pyramid. Egypt. 2,700 B.C.
The biggest, most terrifying and dangerous construction site the world has ever known.
A hundred thousand men will haul two and a half million limestone blocks weighing a total of six million tons up a building the size of a skyscraper using nothing but human muscle.
On his first day working on the pyramid, one young man has to adapt quickly to a new life in a work gang where intense friendships and hatreds are forged in a feverish furnace of desert heat, brutal humour, backbreaking work, horrific accidents, drink, sex and death.
And as the ghosts of dead workmates and visions of Amun Ra the Sun God elbow their way into Makhthon’s dreams, something strange is happening just out of sight, on the higher ledges of the pyramid, where the workers are never allowed.
Where does the stairway really lead?

StairwayToHeaven__104.jpg (398994 bytes)

The London premiere of this darkly funny, strangely contemporary, intense and visionary journey to another world …

Tues 15th June - Sat 10th July 2010   (No Perfs Sun/Mon)

Tues – Sat 8pm. Tickets £10 / £8
The Blue Elephant Theatre 59a Bethwin Road, Camberwell, London SE5 0XT
Box Office: 0207 701 0100    OR

Book online with or by calling the 24-hour line 08444 77 1000
Tube: Oval/Northern Line (15 minutes' walk)

Bus: 12, 35, 36, 4, 42, 45, 68, 148, 171, 176, 185, 436, 468

StairwayToHeaven__089.jpg (344331 bytes)



Nicolas_Cass_Beggs.jpg (383112 bytes)

Nicholas Cass-Beggs Hiksos

Nicholas Cass-Beggs was born in Montreal, Canada and trained as an actor at the Oxford School of Drama. Now based in Southwark, Nicholas has performed as an actor on the London and Edinburgh Fringe, in the West End and throughout the UK.  His credits include: Aslan in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, New Vic Theatre; Ménage à Trois, the Cochrane Theatre; Antigone, Manchester Royal Exchange; The Snowman in The Snowman, Peacock Theatre & Korean Tour; Park Avenue, Lilian Baylis Theatre; Pajama Game, Union Theatre; Kismet at the ENO, Trailer at Camden Peoples Theatre and La Fille du régiment, Tamerlano, The Rakes Progress & Orlando for the Royal Opera House.  Prior to becoming an actor, Nicholas had a career as a contemporary dancer in Germany that spanned eight years.  His dance credits include five years as a soloist with Philip Taylor’s Ballet Theatre Munich and three years with Ballett Nordhausen.


James_French.jpg (47624 bytes)

James French – Merab

James was trained at LAMDA and also has a degree in Drama from The University Of Bristol. This year he played Basil Hallward in Dorian Gray (Leicester Square Theatre) and has also shot a pilot for a new re-imagining of the Dracula mythology entitled Dracula Bytes. Past theatre roles have included Black Jack in Bitches & Money (nominated for a Stage Theatre Award for Acting Excellence - Edinburgh 06), Konstantin in The Seagull (Tabard), Lord Ferdinand in The Duchess of Malfi (Blue Elephant)Gabriel Oak in Far From The Madding Crowd (Gatehouse), Sir Edward Coke in By Parties Unknown: The Crypt Project (Sincera Theatre Co)Alsemero in The Changeling (Edinburgh 07) and Cal in East Of Eden (tour). He has also been on a 6 month tour of India playing Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night. He played the title role in BBC Radio 4's Five Summers and Jonny Onion and can be seen this year in Working Title's forthcoming feature film Hippie Hippie Shake.


James_Ronan.jpg (250194 bytes)

James Ronan – Makhthon

James trained at Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts gaining a BA (Hons) in Acting.
Theatre: James is very pleased to be back at The Blue Elephant where at the same time last year he played Delio in Lazarus Theatre's production of The Duchess of Malfi, alongside fellow cast member James French. Other theatre includes: The Page Of Herodias in Salome (Roundhouse Studio), Grimaldi in 'Tis Pity She's A Whore (White Bear Theatre), Clive Daniels in a workshop production of new Musical Heaven Sent, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (Teatro Stabile di Verona), Shane in Wild Weekend (Vienna's English Theatre), Belville in The Rover (Tabard and Edinburgh), Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Bridewell), The Boy in The Possibilities (Landor) and a wide range of parts in Jago (Pleasance, Edinburgh).
Short Films: 2051 and in-development new production A Civil Partnership (Three of A Kind Productions), Snap/Shots (Mark Street, ICA Productions).


Matthew_Ward.gif (19882 bytes)

Matthew Ward – Geb

Matthew trained at Central School of Speech and Drama. His credits include: Danny in Night Must Fall, Jack Favell in Rebecca, Norman in The Norman Conquests, CSM Rivers in The Accrington Pals, Mike in Ruffian on the Stair, Archie Rice in The Entertainer, CS Lewis in Shadowlands, Jeff in Jeffrey Bernard, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Banquo in Macbeth, Caliban in The Tempest, Enobarbus in Anthony and Cleopatra, and the title role in Macbeth.

He has also played Kent in King Lear in Greenwich and Bottom and Oberon in touring productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as various national tours of Twelfth Night playing Sir Toby Belch.

His most recent theatre includes: Camillo in A Winters Tale, Ram in Stereo at the Tricycle and Mickey in Uncle Barry as well as a tour of the one man play St. Nicholas and Rob the lead singer of a reformed Punk band in Reality Chokes at the Edinburgh Festival. His One Man plays include: Moscow Stations, St. Nicholas, and Judas Goat written especially for him. His television credits include Little Britain and TV commercials.


Simon James Collier - Producer

Simon is CEO and Co-Founder of the noted Okai Collier Company and has produced and been the creative director on over fifty plays and musicals in London, throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. These include Gifted (White Bear); Blavatsky's Tower (Brockley Jack); Oliver Twist and Supernatural (Lion & Unicorn); Love Horse (White Bear); Collision (also directed • Hackney Empire); Normal (Tobacco Factory, Bristol); Moonshadow (Time Out Critics’ Choice, White Bear); In His Hands (Hackney Empire/Oxford House); The Smilin’ State (Hackney Empire); Dracula (White Bear); Hedwig & The Angry Inch (K52 Theatre, Frankfurt); A Mother Speaks (Hackney Empire/New Wolsey, Ipswich/The Drum, Birmingham); The Dorchester (Jermyn Street); The Last Session (Hackney Empire); My Matisse (Jermyn Street); Shiny Happy People, with Victoria Wood (Hornchurch Theatre); Passion (Bridewell); A… My Name Is Alice (Bridewell); Whole Lotta Shakin’ (Belgrade, Coventry); Great Balls Of Fire (Cambridge Theatre, West End); A Wrongful Execution (also directed • Hackney Empire); Spooky Noises (also book & co lyrics • Merlin Theatre); Countess & Cabbages (also book • Merlin Theatre); Preacherosity (Jermyn Street); Purlie (nominated for 4 What’s On Stage Awards • Bridewell); Elegies For Angels, Punks & Raging Queens (also Executive Producer on 2001 Cast Recording • Bridewell, Globe Centre, Three Mills); La Vie En Rose (King’s Head, Towngate Theatre); Viva O Carnaval (also co book & lyrics • Lilian Baylis Sadler’s Wells) and Ruthless (winner of 5 Musical Stages awards • Stratford Circus, London).

He has also written and published over twenty children’s books and novels including the Mr. Dark trilogy (optioned for an animated television series), the Towards the Light Fantastic Trilogy and the Norman series. Simon recently produced Dance With Me, his first feature film, which will be in cinemas in 2010 and is currently developing two other features for production in 2010/11. He also directed The Difference We Make, a documentary for Southern Housing Foundation as well as presenting celebrated events at St. Martin in the Fields (The Crusaid Requiem), Hackney Empire (Inspiration Innovation Integration Season) and St. Paul’s Cathedral (Service of Thanksgiving, Remembrance & Hope for World AIDS Day).

Simon has created and project directed a series of award-nominated social investment projects that encourage youth creativity and literacy within the community, produced a number of documentaries and short films, and promoted various exhibitions focusing on the work of up and coming artists.

He has also been the Executive Director of London’s Bridewell Theatre, Artistic Consultant to Jermyn Street West End Studio Theatre and Chair, Trustee, Director and Consultant of numerous charities.

Productions for 2010 include: Tapestry (also directing); Gifted (White Bear); More Dead Black Children; Stairway to Heaven (Blue Elephant), The Remains of the Day (Union Theatre) and Still Life.

StairwayToHeaven__026.jpg (359434 bytes)


Fallen Angel Theatre Company - Producer

Fallen Angel was established in 2007 and focuses on new writing and innovative revivals of provocative and challenging works. Productions to date include Gifted (White Bear), Blavatsky's Tower (Brockley Jack), Normal (Tobacco Factory), Moonshadow (White Bear), Ray Collins Dies On Stage (Alma Theatre, Bristol), Dracula (White Bear) and The Custom of the Country (White Bear). All have received widespread critical acclaim.

StairwayToHeaven__058.jpg (338976 bytes)

Steve Hennessy – Writer

Steve has had 21 plays staged in Bristol, London, Manchester and elsewhere, and four radio plays broadcast in Britain, Ireland and Germany, including The Song of the Whale and The Secret of Fire. He was writer in residence at the Finborough Theatre in London, 2004 - 2007. Steve founded and runs Stepping Out Theatre, the country's leading mental health theatre group, working with mental health service users and producing work exploring mental health themes. His play Still Life won the Venue magazine 'Best New Play' award in 2001 and Moonshadow was a Time Out Critics’ Choice Show of the Week in 2009. His Lullabies of Broadmoor trilogy about celebrated Broadmoor patients received widespread acclaim in Bristol and London (‘Powerfully performed … absorbing and atmospheric …a piquant mix of witty Gothic ghoulishness and serious moral questioning … casts a haunting spell as it weaves together lurid fantasy and harsh reality.’ Paul Taylor, The Independent) . A fourth and final play in the sequence is scheduled for production in Bristol in November.

StairwayToHeaven__187.jpg (310370 bytes)

Chris Lince - Lighting Design

As lighting designer, Chris has most recently lit Blavatsky's Tower and Compression at the Brockley Jack. He has worked extensively with director Benet Catty on productions of Howie the Rookie, Edmond, Speed-the-Plow, Popcorn, Sweet Charity and Sweeney Todd. He has been award-winning comedian Brendon Burns’ technical director for five years, as well as designing the lighting for numerous comedy shows in Edinburgh and London. He is regularly based at the Cockpit Theatre, coordinating their long-running scratch night, Theatre in the Pound. As a director, Chris’s Edinburgh Fringe production of Emily Juniper’s Restitution transferred to Theatre 503, and his more recent Edinburgh production of Brett Goldstein’s Success Story will be revived later in 2010. He is also a writer and graphic designer.

StairwayToHeaven__180.jpg (294086 bytes)

Chris Loveless - Director/Producer

Chris trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (2007). He is Artistic Director of Fallen Angel Theatre Company and an associate director of the White Bear Theatre and Stepping Out Theatre Company.

Directing credits include Gifted (White Bear), Blavatsky's Tower (Brockley Jack), Normal (Tobacco Factory, Bristol), Moonshadow (Time Out Critics' Choice & Show of the Week, White Bear), Ray Collins Dies On Stage (Alma Theatre, Bristol), Thursday Coma (Alma), Walter's Monkey (Alma), Dracula (White Bear) and The Custom of the Country (Time Out Critics' Choice, White Bear). Assisting credits include Othello (Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory) and The Demon Box (Alma).

Producing credits include studio and fringe productions, and an internship with ATG in their West End production office. Chris has also worked in theatre and TV as an actor and is a former member of the National Youth Theatre.


StairwayToHeaven__137.jpg (382576 bytes)

Omar F. Okai – Movement Direction

Omar F. Okai is an award-winning director and choreographer of over forty musicals and plays, productions of which were not only in London’s West End and throughout the UK, but also in Europe. These include: Come Dancing by Ray Davies of The Kinks; Aladdin & Hansel and Gretel (Choreographer, Theatre Royal Stratford East); The Smilin’ State (Hackney Empire); the Olivier Award nominated Cinderella for Theatre Royal Stratford East; Five Guys Named Moe (German premiere, 2007/8); the world premieres of Preacherosity and Viva O Carnaval; Sweet Charity (re-staging Bob Fosse’s original choreography); Rent; Cabaret; the European premieres of Ruthless (for which he won a Best Director award) and Purlie (nominated for four What’s On Stage awards); Honk and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.

He is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the noted Okai Collier Company, which has gained an excellent reputation for encouraging new writing and staging cross-cultural productions. Okai also co-produced four Off-West End Studio productions for directors including Lynda Baron (The Dorchester) and Ruth Carney (My Matisse), along with Rowland Lee’s acclaimed Crusaid Requiem at St. Martin in the Fields and the HIV/AIDS Service of Remembrance at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. Omar’s film directing credits include the notable documentary The 411: The Bottom Line on Amhurst Road, produced in association with Southern Housing Foundation. He is the Director of Urban Theatre, a project that encourages youth creativity within the community and has worked with the education departments at both Camden Roundhouse and The Royal Opera House. In addition to the above Omar is also an accomplished West End performer & writer, and has recently penned two new musicals; Ghetto Funk Time Machine and Celia. Visit

P_StairwayToHeaven__048.jpg (322899 bytes)

Renell Shaw -  Music

London born lyricist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Renell Shaw has been uniquely placed between the genres of African-classical, soulful hip-hop, Jazz and world music. He is an innovative songwriter/producer working within the worlds of film, theatre, and dance and as a session musician.

As well as being involved in the creation and performance side of music his entrepreneurial skills have thrown him into the music business partaking in facilitation, events production and artist development/management.

Renell Shaw has performed at many prestigious venues including The Royal Festival Hall, Roundhouse, Jazz Café and The Barbican alongside respected musicians including Orphy Robinson, Soweto Kinch, Nitin Sawhney and The London Philharmonic Orchestra. He continues to thrive on the challenges of working on varied, eclectic and creative projects and remains committed to pushing the boundaries of his various art forms.

StairwayToHeaven__127.jpg (297118 bytes)

Stepping Out Theatre Company – Producer

Founded in 1997, and with 32 productions to its credit, Stepping Out Theatre is the country’s leading mental health theatre group. It has produced a wide range of work on mental health themes and is open to people who have used mental health services and their allies. It offers mental health service users the opportunity to work alongside people with professional experience of writing, directing and acting, some of whom are service users themselves. The group has won two national awards in recognition of its high quality and groundbreaking work in mental health. (See

P_StairwayToHeaven__160.jpg (316457 bytes)

Ann Stiddard – Set and Graphic Designer

Ann is a joint Artistic Director of Theatre West, which has been a leading company for new writing in the South West for the last 20 years. She has designed dozens of productions for them at the Alma Tavern Theatre in Bristol. Other work includes Two Noble Kinsmen, Shang-a-Lang, Blue Heart, Far Away (all Bristol Old Vic Studio), Viral Sutra (The Finborough), Little Pictures (Old Vic Studio and tour of Latvia), Six Beckett Pieces (tour of Latvia), A Doll’s House (QEH Theatre) and various Edinburgh Fringe productions. She has designed all of Stepping Out’s productions for the last ten years.

StairwayToHeaven__073.jpg (224922 bytes)


Fallen Angel Theatre


...coming soon, another production of Steve Hennessy's work...

Lullabies of Broadmoor (see review) at the Finborough Theatre London

A sequence of plays forming a rich, dark, Gothic tragicomedy about murder, love, madness, personal responsibility and redemption.