New musical follows fortunes of pensioners ejected from care home

A new comedy from young creative duo, Joseph McNeice and Matthew Spalding, Twilight Robbery, premieres on September 13-15 at the Barn Theatre, Oxted. 

Caterham writer Joseph debuts his very first musical, as he returns to Oxted where his theatrical career began having directed productions of Sweeney Todd and One Man Two Guvnors at the Barn in his teenage years.

Joseph has graduated from the University of York, where he studied Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance.

Twilight Robbery is a hilarious new musical that follows a valiant group of pensioners who trade ageing for adventure when they are forced out of their humdrum retirement home in East Grinstead by property developers.

Not content with sitting by, Joyce, Patty and Frank hatch a daring plan to carry out a diamond heist so that they can pay off the developers and save the place they call home.

Inspired by true events wherein the writer’s grandmother, Phyllis Elwood, was displaced when Lingfield Lodge Retirement Home in East Grinstead closed its doors in 2016, the production imagines a reality that sees a local community take on the powers-that-be and flourish beyond their wildest dreams.

Determined to turn a particularly difficult family episode into something positive, McNeice set about rewriting the account of Mrs Elwood’s ordeal in a comic light and ended up with a story that’s not only entertaining, but deeply moving.

“It was awful at the time,” said Joseph. “Gran was basically told to pack up and move out and there was a lot of upheaval, which was very distressing for the whole family. I just remember thinking ‘this can’t be the end of the story,’ so I decided to invent a better ending and develop the whole saga into a musical. I’ve tried to make something good out of that upsetting experience.”

The show confronts a number of social issues faced by modern Britain including the loneliness epidemic faced by many of the UK’s elderly and it asks how we can better support and care for the ageing members of our communities.

The cast features a number of notable rising stars, including Em Barrett (2018 Welsh Young Musical Theatre Singer of the Year), Josh Benson (Original London Cast of Gary Barlow’s The Girls musical, Phoenix Theatre, West End), Martha Pothen (Privates on Parade, Union Theatre, London) and Andrew Caley (Coronation Street, Peaky Blinders).

The show’s protagonist, Joyce, is played by York-based actor Maggie Smales, who is joined by Loretta Smith as Patty. Caley completes the trio in the role of Frank. Additional cast members include Josh Gorroño Chapman, Emily Chattle, Finn East, Anna Hale, Christine McNeice, Gill Oakes, Flo Poskitt, Ross Telfer and Juliet Waters.

Writer and director Joseph McNeice said of this hugely ambitious project: “we’re thrilled to be making a piece of theatre that excites and challenges us and we’re very proud to be bringing a new British musical to The Barn. We’re sure that this is the start of an adventure of our own and we hope that you will share this first leg of it with us”
Tickets cost £15 (£12 for students) and are available at or 01883 331400.

Photos show Loretta, Maggie and Andrew; Em, Josh, and Martha

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