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Ended 4 Jan 2014 after 3 months

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Meet The Packers, Essex's lovable, but most dysfunctional family.

Closed 4 Jan 2014


A foul-mouthed comedy of errors erupts on the stage, as a dysfunctional family are forced to go on the run, when their gangster son Algie is set to be released. The problem? They have something rather awkward to tell him about the spoils of his last robbery. Lee Evans, Sheila Hancock head up the cast as Algie's dim-witted brother Darnley and foul-mouthed matriarch Emmie, respectively.


After seven years in prison, Essex's most prolific gangster Algie Packer is looking forward to freedom, and the prospect of his hidden fortune - £3.5 million in cold, hard untraceable cash. However, upon his release, Algie is in for the most unpleasant shock, as it transpires that his ill-gotten gains have been frivolously spent away by his mother and sister-in-law on a champagne lifestyle including world cruises and blue Ferraris.

What follows is a chaotic comedy of errors as the family are forced to go on the run from Algie, the police, and a hit man in order to cover up their betrayal. The Packers are just your perfectly average, totally dysfunctional, stereotypically Essex crime family with a BIG problem. Will they succeed in evading justice? Or will their constant squabbling be their undoing?

The play received very mixed reviews from critics, with the Telegraph calling it "Wonderfully funny. Imagine a cross between Mike Leigh?s Abigail?s Party and Quentin Tarantino?s Reservoir Dogs." whereas The Guardian was scathing, saying "As a piece of black comedy, Clive Exton's play is neither sufficiently dark nor consistently funny."


Keeley Hawes reportedly left the play in December 2013 due to continuous clashes with co-star Sheila Hancock. Hawes' understudy Rachel Marwood took over the role for the short remainder of the run.

Additional Information


Previews from: 6 September 2013

Opening night: 16 September 2013

Closing night: 4 January 2014


The play contains strong language throughout and is recommended for 16+

What You Say

19 reviews, average rating: (2.5 Stars)

John: “Must See Comedy”

A really funny black comedy based on the arsenic and old lace theme loads o... more

D. White: “Fantastic Play”

Amazing play from start to finish. Lee Evans was fantastic as always. My da... more

Reis: “Must See Comedy”

This play is brilliant!! A fair amount of strong language, but only adds ... more

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