Blue Sky
Hampstead Downstairs

Pentabus Theatre presents at Hampstead Downstairs

Downstairs: Blue Sky

By Clare Bayley

Directed by Elizabeth Freestone

24 October - 10 November

Archived £6 - £12
‘We’re the little people; there are things we’re not supposed to know.’



Hampstead Downstairs is delighted to welcome back Pentabus Theatre following their critically acclaimed production, For Once, last summer. Pentabus bring their latest work to the Downstairs space, the political thriller Blue Sky.

A gripping new drama about justice and journalism, Blue Sky investigates what might be happening in the English countryside in the dead of the night. Isolated airports, secret landings… how much do we really know about what our governments are involved in? And do we want to know – or is it easier to turn a blind eye?

Clare Bayley’s play, The Container, was first produced in Edinburgh 2007 where it won a Fringe First and the Amnesty International Award prior to a subsequent production at the Young Vic in 2009. Other credits include an English version of The Enchantment (National Theatre) and They Said, We Said for Come to Where I’m From (Chipping Norton Theatre).

Starting her career at Hampstead as script reader and assistant director, Elizabeth Freestone returns as artistic director of Pentabus Theatre. Her previous credits include The Rape of Lucrece, The Comedy of Errors (both RSC), The Duchess of Malfi (Greenwich Theatre) and Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Globe). Elizabeth has also worked as Associate Director at the National Theatre and Staff Director at the RSC, Royal Court and Soho Theatre.

‘The excellent Pentabus’ The Guardian

Running Time: Approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes with no interval

The performance on Tuesday 30 October includes a post-show discussion.

Confirmed speakers include Corinna Furguson Legal Officer at Liberty, Crofton Black from Reprive, Blue Sky writer Clare Bayley and Andrew Dickson Theatre editor The Guardian.

Corinna Furguson Legal Officer at Liberty. Founded in 1934 as the National Council for Civil Liberties, Liberty is the oldest human rights organisation in the UK. It is a non-party membership organisation which works to promote human rights and protect civil liberties through a combination of test case litigation, lobbying, campaigning and the provision of free advice.

Crofton Black from Reprive. Reprieve uses the law to enforce the rights of Prisoners world wide delivering justice and saving lives from deathrow to Guantanamo Bay. Reprive investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, providing legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves.

Clare Bayley’s play, The Container, was first produced in Edinburgh 2007 where it won a Fringe First and the Amnesty International Award prior to a subsequent production at the Young Vic in 2009. Other credits include an English version of The Enchantment (National Theatre) and They Said, We Said for Come to Where I’m From (Chipping Norton Theatre).

Andrew Dickson is theatre editor for the Guardian News and Media, commissioning theatre and dance coverage across the Guardian, Observer and online. He also writes interviews and features for Review and G2, and presents culture videos. A new edition of his Rough Guide to Shakespeare came out in 2009, he has contributed to the New Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare (2010), and he appears regularly as a critic for the BBC. He is also an honorary fellow in the English department of Birkbeck College, University of London.



Now in its third season, the elegant, wedge-shaped space of Hampstead Downstairs has supported a consistently interesting succession of new and experimental writing, including the current production by Shropshire-based Pentabus Theatre of Clare Bayley’s latest play – a mordant meditation on justice, journalism and individual political engagement set in 2003, at the time of the joint US and UK invasion of Iraq.

Sarah Malin gives a fine-drawn performance as Jane, a freelance investigative journalist who looks up an old flame, Ray, for reasons that have less to do with rekindling their former romance than the fact that his hobby of plane-spotting might give her the lead she’s looking for in her pursuit of a big story.
Jane has spotted a tiny news item about a man bundled into a private jet at Islamabad airport, and is convinced that she has stumbled across an instance of what would become known as “extraordinary rendition”.

Ray, a widower who works for a breakdown recovery service, longs for a quiet life with his planes and is alarmed by the prospect of being drawn into Jane’s one-woman campaign to expose the CIA. But there was a time when he was quite the political firebrand – married to a Salvadorean political dissident who died young, leaving him to raise their daughter, Ana, alone.

While Ray haunts small airfields with his long lens, student Ana is involved in anti-Iraq war activities, including a political blog – to the dismay of Jane, who as an old-school print journalist, is horrified by the notion of citizen journalism.

Her old-school journalistic ideals include the traditional rat-like willingness to lie and bully in the interests of getting her story. To Ray’s horror she prints sensitive plane-spotterish material from his computer; and she nags information out of Mina, the vulnerable wife of the abducted man.
Bayley shifts fluently between the morality of high politics and the personal variety. As her drama unfolds, we learn why Jane is so obsessively career-minded, the reasons why Ray recoils from political activism, and the story behind his flawed relationship with his independent-minded daughter.
Blue Sky has its longueurs – Jane’s dogged pursuit of her story is, well, a bit dogged. But the performances – particularly the tender naturalism of Jacob Krichefski as Ray and Dominique Bull as Ana – are beautifully pitched and the raw, muddled conclusion is painfully convincing.

, , The Telegraph


Blue Sky: An Actor’s View

By Manjeet Mann (playing Mina in Pentabus' Blue Sky)

Blue Sky: An introduction from writer Clare Bayley

So, rehearsals started today for Blue Sky. I always think of rehearsals as the writer’s reward, when you can finally emerge from your lonesome office and spend some time in the company of actors, …

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Find out more about the company

Cast & Crew

Artistic Team

Clare Bayley



Elizabeth Freestone


Naomi Dawson

Lighting Designer

Johanna Town

Sound Designer

Adrienne Quartly

Costume Supervisor

Chris Cahill


Dominique (Ana).jpg

Dominique Bull

Jacob (Ray).jpg

Jacob Krichefski

Sarah (Jane).jpg

Sarah Malin

Manjeet (Mina).jpg

Manjeet Mann