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Our American Cousin

By Tom Taylor

At the Old Red Lion Theatre

"Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal – you sockdolagizing old man trap!"

These famous words were the last heard by President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C. on 14 April, 1865- 150 years ago.

Featured on BBC Radio 4 Front Row. For Listen Again

The 1850s. Trenchard Manor, somewhere in the British countryside, is home to a very British family with some very British problems. Sir Edward, patriarch of the household, is close to financial ruin and is desperately seeking ways to satisfy his creditors without losing the family estate. The Manor is sought after by the villainous Coyle who also has designs on Sir Edward's lovely daughter, Florence. Meanwhile, her cousin, Mary Meredith, the rightful heir to another Trenchard family estate, is consigned to working as a milkmaid for the Manor. 

Cultures clash and plans are foiled when Asa Trenchard, a long-lost cousin, arrives from the United States of America, with his own claim to her inheritance. "I'm Asa Trenchard, born in Vermont, suckled on the banks of Muddy Creek, about the tallest gunner, the slickest dancer, and generally the loudest critter in the state."

Amidst all the drama and conspiracy, the ridiculous toff Lord Dundreary is trying to find his hair dye, woo the sickly Georgina, and not bump into the furniture…


“The Finborough audience likes a bit of living history, and director Lydia Parker clearly made a brave decision not to rescue this hoary lump of Victoriana by cutting ferociously and playing it double-speed. Rather we learn how it used to be: especially how mutual amusement and suspicion flowed between US and UK in popular culture. The result becomes oddly fascinating in retro charm"

Theatre Cat, Libby Purves

"In Lydia Parker’s production Asa Trenchard is exuberantly played by Solomon Mousley who, with his rakishly angled felt hat and sharply cherubic features, resembles a young Mark Rylance."

Michael Billington, The Guardian

"Our American Cousin is possibly the most famous play of all time, from a historical perspective. That is because this is the play that President Abraham Lincoln was enjoying when John Wilkes Booth brought his life and tenure to an abrupt closure. Our American Cousin is probably best remembered for its history but this timely revival by Over Here Theatre Company offers a pleasant if undemanding 2¼ hours with enough laughs to justify the price of a ticket and the chance to see how our forefathers entertained themselves."

Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“Is it just a historical curiosity or does it stand up on its own? In other hands it could have been a drag, but in Lydia Parker’s production it’s a total hoot. If some revivals seek to uncover lost gems from the murk of old theatrical styles, this just accepts what a mess Tom Taylor’s play is and runs with it. And it does this to great effect. Credit should be given to Parker for her direction, which manages to corral all these disparate elements skilfully and understands exactly when you need to add a dance routine to carry a scene along. While she and her company may not have recovered a great overlooked work, they are responsible for an immensely fun evening."

Robbie Lumsden, Bargain Theatreland


Timothy Allsop, Hannah Britland, Kelly Burke, Maria Teresa Creasey, Rupert Elmes, Lily Howkins, Andrew McDonald, Julian Moore-Cook, Solomon Mousley, Olivia Onyehara, Andy Rashleigh and Daniel York


Director: Lydia Parker

​Costume Design: Hannah Taylor

Choreography: Lily Howkins

​Pianist: Erika Gundsten

Assistant Director: John Young

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