Watlington-based Declan Bennett, who played Charlie Cotton in EastEnders, is taking his one person show, Boy Out The City, to the West End.

For just two nights, Mr Bennett performed his piece in Watlington’s village pub, before taking it to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Now it is transferring to a West End stage for a limited season this September.

Boy Out The City will be at the Lyric Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue as part of a queer season, presented by producer Paul Taylor-Mills.

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Mr Bennett will be sharing the stage with singer, songwriter Lauryn Redding, performing her Edinburgh Fringe Festival success, Bloody Elle.

Both are new pieces of work and have received rave reviews at Edinburgh Fringe.

Mr Bennett appeared in 147 episodes of EastEnders between 2014 and 2017.

Based on his own private journals, Boy Out The City is Mr Bennett’s reflection on his time in Watlington.

Among his memories are falling in love with the lanterns and local bakery that’s only open three days a week, having Sunday lunch in the Fat Fox, experiencing lockdown solo in his new home and becoming friends with his 84-year-old neighbour, Anne.

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The show is described as "fast paced, lyrical and thought provoking, with a mix of humour and pathos". 

Mr Bennett is an actor, songwriter and now an emerging playwright.

He gained prominence as a member of the 1999 band Point Break before going on to perform in the West End, Broadway, and national and international tours.

He has also had a plethora of television and film roles including Charlie Cotton in EastEnders and Jonathan in recent ITV detective drama The Long Call.

His previous work in theatre includes Boy George’s Taboo (2002, West End), Rent (2006 – 2007, United States tour, 2007 – 2008, Broadway), Once (2013, West End), Jesus Christ Superstar (2016, Open Air Theatre Regents Park) and recently returned from Broadway where he played Duke in Moulin Rouge! (2022, Broadway).

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Co-created and directed by Nancy Sullivan from its inception, Boy Out The City premiered as a work in progress at the 2021 Westival Music and Arts Festival followed by a short London run at the Turbine Theatre, Battersea.

The play follows Mr Bennett from childhood to adulthood and after moving out of London to wait out the final months of the pandemic, he finds himself alone in the Oxfordshire countryside.

In his isolation, he is forced to face the demons of his past on a messy journey through the turbulent world of toxic masculinity, homophobia, and men’s mental health.

Associate producer, Lauren Reed, said: “I have had the pleasure of working alongside Declan and Nancy with this show since 2021, and to watch them develop this piece from a stream of consciousness into a brilliant and engaging hour of theatre has been an honour.

"After a hugely successful Edinburgh Fringe run, it’s wonderful to bookmark that chapter with four days on the West End.”

Boy Out The City will be performed from September 27 to September 30 2023 (times vary) at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.

Tickets start from £10 and can be purchased via https://nimaxtheatres.com/shows/boy-out-the-city/