shipshape theatre company 


Shipshape Theatre specialises in productions of biographical drama, often with a musical element. It was set up in 2016 to stage performances at FitzFest, a local music festival featuring composers who lived in central London’s Fitzrovia district. Shipshapes’s aim was – and still is – to create theatre work in which actors and musicians have an equal and interactive role.





It’s April 1803, and in Vienna a young virtuoso violinist George Bridgetower is introduced to Ludwig van Beethoven.  The outcome is an intense but stormy relationship – and an exquisite piece of music. In this new drama actors and orchestral players come together to tell the story of the black musician who should have given his name to the Kreutzer Sonata, and of the troubled composer who snatched that honour away from him.

Feet of Clay: Rodin and his London Friends

The friends Rodin meets in the British Museum take him on a journey through time, visiting past ordeals and future triumphs.

Tell Me The Truth About Love

Celebrating in words and music the relationship between the composer Benjamin Britten and his partner, the tenor Peter Pears, this play draws on the many letters which the couple wrote to each other between 1939 and 1976.

The Man from the Sleepy Lagoon

A celebration of the life and music of Eric Coates, one of the most popular British composers of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The label ‘light’ was a burden, but it never deterred him from writing tunes.


A monologue in which Peter Mark Roget, creator of the famous Thesaurus, talks about his early years in Manchester when he was Chief Surgeon at the Infirmary, and about the lists he made to keep depression at bay.

189 Pieces

2014 sees the 25th anniversary of the last restoration of the Portland Vase, a Roman glass masterpiece bought by the Dowager Duchess of Portland in 1784. In 1845, while on loan to the British Museum, it was deliberately smashed by a visitor. This new play dramatises the triumphs and tribulations which beauty and celebrity have conferred on the Vase.

Roofing the County of Surrey with Crystal

What price authenticity? Rows break out in the Crystal Palace about the significance of its exhibits. Set in October 1854, soon after the Palace relocated to Surrey.

The Happiness Index

What David Cameron can learn from the Greeks and Romans

“How happy did you feel yesterday?” Faced with this question in a government survey, John turns to a couple of ancient philosophers for advice. So what is happiness anyway? And how do you know when you’ve got it?  Epicurus and Seneca offer some words of wisdom.

Performed by David Acton, at the New End Theatre, London NW3, June 2011. David recently starred in The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre in London.

How to be Happy

A play about ancient philosophy and happiness, this piece has been performed at a number of schools and colleges, and at the British Museum. It exists in two versions, for school students and adults. In 2011 it took on a new life when the Coalition Government published the UK’s first official happiness index.

Another Stab at Life

Eurydice’s take on what happens when the great singer Orpheus attempts to bring his wife back from the Underworld.  Will she go or will she stay?

Performed as part of the launch of 17 Per Cent, at the Red Hedgehog in London in March 2010, this 10-minute play can be heard online, at the Veni Vidi Theatre.

Darwin and the Greeks

A gardener’s thoughts about the Greek forerunners of Darwin help him to come to terms with a sad event in his own life.

Performed at the British Museum, November 2009.

Found Drowned

The young Ellen Terry goes bathing on the Isle of Wight. Part of a collaborative piece by the Bonnington Group of writers, The Quite Peculiar and Irresistible Charm of Ellen Terry.

Performed at the Barn Theatre, Smallhythe, Kent, July 2007.



What happens when three powerful deities – Athena, Hera and Aphrodite – all claim the prize for Top Goddess? The Trojan War is just one of the outcomes.

Performed at the Pleasance Theatre, London, May 2007.

A Different Kind of Dancing

A short play in which a young woman experiences a reunion with the god Bacchus, and tries out his new drink.

Won Second place in the Westminster Prize. The Soho Theatre, London, 2001.