London premiere of Hemingway play

Post date: 15/11/2015

Nearly 80 years on from the start of the Spanish Civil War, a play by one of the greatest writers of the 20th century appears in London for the first time.


Ernest Hemingway was in Madrid in 1937, during Franco’s siege, and wrote “The Fifth Column” there, under that bombardment.


Philip Rawlings, a spy-catcher and covert member of the International Brigade, is engaged in a life-and-death struggle to unmask Fifth Columnists inside the besieged city. He is also passionately in love with a female war correspondent living in the hotel.


Around them, the people of Madrid are trying, often comically, to survive; and the idealism of the young men under him, who came to fight with the International Brigades, is contrasted with the ruthlessness of civil war.


Hemingway’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” is the great classic of the Spanish Civil War, and there are echoes of his masterpiece in “The Fifth Column”. The leading characters owe much not only to Hemingway and his lover Martha Gellhorn, one of the first female war correspondents, but also to Tom Wintringham , commander of the British Battalion, and his lover Kitty Bowler.


“The Fifth Column” runs at Southwark Playhouse (77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE16BD) from 24 March to 16 April 2016. Professor Paul Preston, the foremost British historian of the civil war and the IBMT’s Founding Chair, will be leading a discussion after the performance on 5 April.


Book online (tickets are £12-£20) at [] or by phone: 020 7407 0234.


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