Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

“Has the cat got his tongue?

I’m wondering is he highly strung or something?”

King James about Thomas Percy

The Cast (Mark Senior)

Showing at the Theatre Royal for just two nights in August was Treason the Musical  a new British musical with music by Ricky Allan and Book and lyrics by him and Kieran Lynn.  In its form it is a concert version to give us to review the concept and the music but not fully staged and so everything else like the set, costumes and choreography are a work in progress and not ready to be evaluated. 

Some major West End stars have given their time to this project about the people behind the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when some Catholic gentry planned to blow up Parliament on its official opening by King James I.  Carrie Hope Fletcher soon to be seen in a role with a difference at Kingston in Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, is Martha Percy wife of one of the leading conspirators Thomas Percy (Bradley Jaden). 

Bradley Jaden as Thomas Percy and Carrie Hope Fletcher as Martha Percy (Photo: Mark Senior)

Simon-Anthony Rhoden is Robert Catesby, another Catholic with long term grudges.  His father had been imprisoned for his faith and some of their Catesby and Throckmorton relatives had been executed for being involved in various Catholic plots, including the one to release from imprisonment Mary Queen of Scots, ironically the mother of the current Protestant king James I (Daniel Boys).   

I had little argument with the First Act Book although I suppose the insertion of a love story between Martha and Thomas Percy, an also ran relative of the Duke of Northumberland Percy family is inevitable for a big musical.  The songs too are rousing and rather good but there are aspects about which I have doubts.

Debris Stevenson is the narrator and her grime poetry lyrics and rap songs feel at odds with the other music and the period and maybe need to be rethought.  

Les Dennis as Robert Cecil (Photo: Mark Senior)

Tremendously popular is Daniel Boys’ s King James I and with his arrogance of royalty you will be trying to prove a blood link between him and Jonathan Groff’s George III in Hamilton because there is certainly a link of style.  Of course the Hanoverian Georges were brought in after the last remaining Stuart had died with Queen Anne, her of the curved chair legs buried in a square coffin because she was as wide as she was tall after 18 pregnancies, five stillborn babies and eight miscarriages.

Les Dennis is curious cast as Elizabeth I’s spymaster Robert Cecil who sets about to uncover the plotters.  His song “Paperwork” is more 19th century than 17th. There is detail leading up to the discovery of the plot but too little about the after story of those that died and what also happened to their relatives.  I’d like to review The Gunpowder Plot immersive experience at the Tower of London but the music is probably lacking!

Daniel Boys as King James I (Photo: Mark Senior)

I really liked the logistics scene as to how to get the barrels of gunpowder in the dark along the river to the house next to the Parliament cellars and the music of “Banks of the Thames” and “Barrels on the Water”.  There are good projected visuals, many with fire and fireworks. 

Carrie Hope Fletcher as Martha has a showstopping song and her numbers with the other women are really strong.  Bradley Jaden is a powerful singer giving his lyrics real intelligence and his duets with Martha are a joy.  The writers are blessed with such a cast. 

However my major gripe is with the use of the wives to tip off Cecil’s forces about the plot.  Why would dutiful Catholic wives be more concerned about the likely carnage and loss of life in the Palace of Westminster than the hanging, drawing and quartering of their husbands, the confiscation of their property and wealth and the disinheritance and making their children homeless?  This is not a blow for female empowerment but a plot device which weakens a really interesting musical.  Look to the book please! 

Urdang Academy have been brought in for the choreography but the dancers have too little space here as the full orchestra is on stage and I suspect also some of currently running Frozen set is behind them.

I do wonder if there is room for reflection on what is terrorism and what is freedom fighting?

In conclusion, some great music, stellar singers and a plot in progress!

Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Robert Catesby (Photo: Mark Senior)

Musical Numbers

Act One

 A Fiery Fable

When Will I See you Again?

 The Wedding

The Catholic Problem

All We Dreamed and More

The Journey

The Promise

All We Dreamed and More (Reprise)

The Day Elizabeth Died

An United Kingdom


Take Things Into Our Own Hands

The Invitation

The Inevitable

London Town

The Plot

Act Two

Banks of the Thames

Barrels On the Water  

A Watchful Eye  

Digging Down Deeper


Blind Faith


The Plot Reprise

As Far As I Can Tell

No Happy Ending

A Woman’s Role

Caught in the Crossfire

The Cold, Hard Ground

The Demise

When Will I See You Again (Reprise)

 There Are Worse Things I Could Do  

Sandra Dee (Reprise)  

 You’re the One That I Want

 We Go Together (Reprise)  


Production Notes


Music Book and Lyrics by Ricky Allan

Book and Lyrics by Kieran Lynn

Directed by Hannah Chissick



Carrie Hope Fletcher

Bradley Jaden

Simon Anthony Rhoden

Les Dennis

Daniel Boys

Emilie Louise Israel

Waylon Jacobs

Rebecca LaChance

Cedric Neal

Adam Pearce

Jade Oswald

Debris Stevenson


Desmonda Cathabel

Sebastian Harwood

Emilie Louise Israel

Jade Oswald


Isabel Clifton

Louis Doran

Harrison Evan

Megan Bryony Gibbs


Rozz Mbwembwe

Connor McGwyre

Luke O’Neill

Charlie Rowan

Ebony Roy-Palmer




Director: Hannah Chissick

Musical Director: Alan Berry

Musical Supervisor: Nick Pinchbeck

Choreographer: Taylor Walker

Designer: Janet Bird

Lighting Designer:  Simisola Majekodunmi

Sound Designer: Tom Marshall

Video and Projection: Gino Ricardo Green

Orchestrations and Additional Arrangements:

Matthew Malone


Running Time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval



Theatre Royal Drury Lane 

Catherine Street

London WC2B 5JF

Tube: Covent Garden

Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge

at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

on Tuesday 23rd August 2022