This show finished on Saturday 16 March 2024, and this page is being kept for archival purposes only.

Mother Clap's Molly House


Wednesday 13 March - Saturday 16 March 2024


Bedlam Theatre


£6/7/9 + £1 booking fee on the door


Mark Ravenhill


It’s London 1726, and Mrs. Tull’s got problems. The whores are giving her a hard time, a man in a dress is looking for a job, her husband has a roving eye and the apprentice boy keeps disappearing for ‘a wander’. The play skips between the eighteenth century and 2001, where a group of wealthy gay men are preparing the drugs and video cameras for a sex party. The play is both an affectionate examination of the vitality and liberation of the molly house’s counterculture, and a regretful comment on the commodification of sex and love. Mother Clap’s Molly House, a black comedy with songs is a celebration of the diversity of human sexuality, an exploration of our need to form families and a fascinating insight into a hidden chapter in London’s history.

Please note that the age rating for this show is indicated at 18+ for semi-graphic depictions of sex and abortions. A full list of Content Warnings can be found here.

Cast and Crew


Actor (Amelia) Lucy Melrose

Actor (Amy) Eliana Kiakides

Actor (Eros) Nash Norgaard

Actor (God) Chelsea Laurik

Actor (Kedger / Charlie) Lucy Lane

Actor (Lawrence / Phil) Leo Odgers

Actor (Martin / Tom) Benny Harrison

Actor (Mary Bolton) Rosalyn Harper

Actor (Mary Cranton) Elham Khosravipour

Actor (Molly) Louis Handley

Actor (Mrs Tull) Olivia Martin

Actor (Orme / Josh) Sebastian Elder

Actor (Phillips / Will) Amiran Antadze

Actor (Princess Seraphina) Ted Ackery

Actor (Stephan / Edward) Leonardo Shaw

Actor (Tina / Goddess) Ellie Moore

Assistant Director Gemima Iseka-Bekano

Band (Guitar) Daniel Bloom

Band (Percussion) Dan Bryant

Band (Violin) Lalit Mistry

Choreographer Greta Abbey

Co-Stage Manager Meri Suonenlahti

Co-Stage Manager Jack Greengross

Co-Tech Manager Alexa Haykal

Co-Tech Manager / Lighting Designer Leon Lee

Costume Designer Carmen Harkness

Costume Manager Nhi Tran

Director Conor Quinn

Intimacy Director Rebecca Mahar

Musical Director Falk Meier

Producer Isabella Caron

Set Designer Émilie Noël

Set Electrics Manager Luke Hardwick

Sound Designer Martha Barrow

Sound Operator Amelia Brenan

Sound Operator / Pinch Hitter Atalanta Lewis

Tech Assistant Moses Brzeski-Reilly

Tech Assistant Victoria Ge

Tech Assistant Alice Sikora

Mother Clap’s Molly House -

Friday 15 March - By Thom Dibdin for All Edinburgh Theatre

The EUTC deliver a fully frank and deliciously frivolous take on Mother Clap’s Molly House, Mark Ravenhill’s dark comedy with songs, which plays the Bedlam to Saturday.

Director Conor O’Cuinn revels in Ravenhill’s use of raunchy sex acts in the staging and a script that is as potty-mouthed as it is both clever and hilarious. Yet he also creates a production which allows Ravenhill’s deeper questions about the nature of family and the commodification of sex to work their way the surface, adding his own about the loss of LBGTQ+ spaces.

For much of its course, however, this is a jolly romp and celebration of queer culture. It is set mainly in a draper and dressmakers tally shop in 1726 London, run by the Tulls who make their money from leasing dresses out to whores by the day.

In the second half, it makes occasional flits forward in time to 2001 and a swish London flat, where a gay couple are getting ready to welcome their guests to a drug-fuelled orgy. It’s a touch heavy-handed, but but the analogies between the two times are lightly worn, thanks in part to some judicious casting.

In 1726, Leo Shaw’s twitching and headache-prone Mr Tull is beginning to display the physical effects of his philandering with too many of his pox-ridden clientele. Those headaches can mean only one thing – and soon his widow is left to work out how to keep the ledger, cope with the wayward apprentice and negotiate prices with the whores.

desperate and fearful

Olivia Martin is quite magnificent as Mrs Tull. There is a desperate and fearful hesitancy about her early scenes but she grows in command – until Eli Kiakides’ Amy, a lusty young girl up from the country, falls pregnant. And rather than allow her madam Amelia (a sharp as nails Lucy Melrose) to procure her a termination, negotiates a reduction in rental so that the child will be born.

Into this vacuum of income strides Ted Ackery’s poised, plain-speaking and disturbingly prurient Princess Seraphina. A large bloke in a dress, which he says calms his violence, offering to help the widow and her wayward apprentice, Martin – who Benny Harrison plays with a doe-eyed naivity.

Mrs Tull’s route to financial security is obvious long before she sees it, when another apprentice boy, Thomas, follows Martin back to the shop. Camp and direct, Seb Elder as Thomas ensures there is no question about his feelings, or where Martin has been off wandering.

Soon, to her initial distaste but guided by deities Chelsea Laurik as God (of commerce) and Nash Norgaard as Eros (god of lust) and goaded by Thomas’s cross-dressing employers Kedger (Lucy Lane) and Phillips (Amiran Antadze), she is renting out her dresses to effeminate gay men, the mollies, who want a space to be themselves.


The first half is a fantastic celebration of queer culture, played out in an environment where God is who you make them. Laurik has all the poise necessary and the vocal chops to lead the hymn-like songs which set the backdrop, praising good commerce as the centre of the law, above all else.

Nash Norgaard and Chelsea Laurik with members of the company. Pic Andrew Morris Photography

Norgaard, meanwhile, is a perfectly peced and oiled beauty in little but a golden mini skirt. Think Rocky, from the Rocky Horror Show. What he lacks in the vocal department, he is every inch a big butch Eros, slinking around the stage, ready to intervene any time that lustful temptation is in the offing.

The orgy in the second half is not all it seems. What at first it appears a redundant conceit, rather dating the whole piece, gives a space for reflection away from the drama of the 18th century, driven by romance and complicated by lust.

Such reflections give voice to those differing elements of queer culture. Young guest Tom – the brilliant Benny Harrison again – E’d up to the eyeballs and newly out, just wants to party; co-host, old queen Will who Amiran Antadze gives just the right level of regret, wants to settle down.


Make no bones, this is a thoroughly successful staging of a complex and sometimes convoluted work. O’Cuinn’s direction is exemplary, aided by Gemima Iseka-Bekano. They use every member of the 16-strong cast, with effective support from Rosalyn Harper and Elham Khosravipour as whores, the constantly on-the-move Louis Handley as a molly-come-whore, Leo Odgers as a punter and Ellie Moore as the dealer’s homophobic girlfriend in the 21st century scenes.

Ted Ackery, Lucy Melrose, Rosalyn Harper, Louis Handley and Olivia Martin. Pic Andrew Morris Photography

Greta Abbey’s choreography adds depth to the piece, notably as the centuries morph into each other. Rebecca Mahar’s intimacy direction allows for a daring level verisimilitude and most lascivious dancing routines involving Norgaard and Handley.

Emilie Noel’s set design is effective and simple, girting the stage with lengths of raw cloth, hung from the gallery, and a gauzed room upstage for secluded intimacy in 1726. By contrast Nhi Tran and Carmen Harkness’s costume design suggests the gaudy opulence of the dresses, nicely un-tailored for the mollies.


While this is a play with songs, rather than a musical, the songs themselves are integral to the whole piece, MD Falk Meier leads the small band with precision, the whole company is well-drilled in their delivery, the venue’s upper gallery is well used and sound designer Martha Barrow keeps it clear.

All told, while it runs a bit long, the time passes quickly. Every member of the company should be proud of a satisfying production which delivers in nearly every area it should – and has a thoroughly vulgar and splendid time doing so.


Saturday 16 March - By Dominic Corr for Corr Blimey

Purses of all sorts command the world. Whether it’s coin or sex: London in the 18th century or a swanky drug-fuelled orgy of the 21st. The exuberant lust for the flesh or the glint of a quick buck all remain tempting. Though the price we pay for the dirty business of it all changes.

From the flourish of Émilie Noël’s set dressings to the strike of the initial notes from the live band (located just off stage), the sheer dedication and commitment to the production is evident from the outset. And they’ll need it for Mark Ravenhill’s black comedy, Mother Clap’s Molly House, that explores the endless diversities and intricacies of human sexuality, family, and the commodification of sex. It’s filthy, raucous, and damn right raunchy at times as it uses sexual actions in its staging, with some spicy language used to both blushing and intelligent effect.

But where better to revel in all that is carnal and intimate than in London 1726, where a dressmaker’s (a departure from the real Margaret Clap’s Coffee House) becomes a beacon for the gay subcultures of the city, and a potential new profit away from their usual daily business of renting out dresses to whores for a daily fee. Brimming with hilarious escapades and plentiful songs thanks to Matthew Scott, Mother Clap’s Molly House narrows in on the loss of these houses and other Queer spaces as we progress forward in time, losing something along the way.

Slathered head to unmentionables in Queerness, Conor O’Cuinn’s direction plunges itself headfirst in parodic verse and sexual subversions of expectation – all under the gaze of God (a personified sense of commerce) and Eros, the god of erotic love and endless desire. Chelsea Laurik brings an initial distance between the omnipotent and the people in a strikingly effective costume design (Carmen Harkness), with tighter vocals than some of the cast, which cement their place as the centre of dutiful life. But it is Nash Norgaard’s Eros is the deity with the staying power here. Armed with nothing but their smile and a short golden skirt, this Eros is a combination of the physicality masculine, the more effeminate movements and control, and even a touch of the androgynous seduction – toeing a non-binary line as they hold, caress, and well, the rest of it with the cast.

There’s no wonder that even the most stalwarts fall under this influence. Reluctantly inheriting the shop, Mrs Tull (Olivia Martin) is left with only the most basic of understandings of the business after her husband gives up the ghost after one last erotic spark is too much for his heart to cope with. Leo Shaw’s Mr Tull is a bundle of nervous itching (we know where that came from) and hits the ground running for the show’s humour, but it’s Martin’s utterly outstanding performance which cements the show’s integrity and dimensions. An initially despairing performance where the quivers and genuine concern are within the voice – make way for a steadfast woman who is more than capable of standing up against the worst of the lot and embracing the best of the downtrodden.

With a spot of help from the shop’s apprentice, Martin (Benny Harrison) and Princess Serpahina (another excellent performance from Ted Akery as a dress-wearing man of aggression and reliance), Mrs Tull starts to make a modest earning negotiating with the local sex workers. And it’s not an easy task – especially when Madam Amelia, played by the always precise and developed character of Lucy Melrose, holds a tight purse and leash on her girls with terrific supporting roles from Elham Khosravipour and Rosalyn Harper. But the ‘new stock’, young country girl Amy, has a yearning to explore her (and others) body, leads to the prospect of a terminated child – Madam Amelia agreeing to it for a price, Mrs Tull desperate for the child to be saved – an insight into the life she wishes she had led but was unable to. It’s a heartfelt performance from Eli Kiakides, one which gives their entire being – body and heart – to the performance, utilising Greta Abbey’s choreography to offer intimacy in the less obvious ways.

This alone could have sparked an entire play-text’s worth of drama, but we’re far from done. A little lost lamb, but a jackal beneath, another apprentice lad follows Martin back to the shop after spotting him in the cruising spot. Thomas is everything Martin is not. Well, not everything. Openly effeminate, camp, and in complete control of the physicality and who they share it with, Seb Elder has zero concerns with their spectacular stage presence, even their more explosive moments and movements all timed and paced perfectly through O’Cuinn’s sharp direction and Gemima Iseka–Bekano’s assistant direction – the level of intimacy, thought, and work which has gone into the character alone is outstanding.

A stark contrast to Harrison’s innocence and puppy-like curiosity to it all, eventually he and Elder lead a band of gay men (the titular mollies) in securing Mrs Tully’s shop as a space, a home for them to be themselves and meet without fear of retribution and attack. For a price, of course. Here we see the first of the production’s major dual-roles from Harrison, Elder, Lucy Lane and Amiran Antadze as Thomas’s ‘mother and father’, who lunge themselves from character performances of giddy glee and cross-dressing to a far more intimate portrayal of the cost of affection in the production’s penetration of a modern-day setting, which takes Act two away from the Molly House (for now) and into the 21st century.

In a revelling sense, Ravenhill wants to have it both ways – and by Eros, they get what they want. It’s a palette cleanser (though some activities may leave a bad taste in the mouth) away from period drama elements, where romanticism and debauchery can overwhelm even the steeliest of stomachs. It’s a tip of the scale, one which almost wanders into the moralistic realms for this second half – as the narrative catapults into 20021, London, where a gay couple is staging a night of drugs and sex in as nonchalant a manner as a monthly dinner party. Featuring some stellar comedic, and heartfelt performances from Harrison, Antadze, and Shaw, it’s a welcome addition that, while pushing the runtime, is certainly managed well by the production team.

Gone is a world of earthly desire and frivolous game and splendour, stripped down to a fetishised ritual where love and romance often cower in the corner, clutching to their memories as the ribald ecstasy erupts around them. The white sofa and almost conceited nature of the guests of this orgy certainly bring some audiences back to Queer as Folk and offers some of the more minor roles in the initial half a stronger presence and character, and some exceptionally tight-minded dual casting from Lane, Antadze, and Ellie Moore as the homophobic Tina, to tie the messaging between the periods to a more obvious finesse (if occasionally too obvious).

Kudos to the entire cast for their quick changes and scene alterations for the now penetrating period scenes, which come and go as cleanly as possible for the team. Much is down to Abbey’s movement design again, here aiding as we duck and weave between the two eras. It’s in these contemporary scenes where Harrison gets the opportunity to demonstrate their brilliant range, drugged to within an inch of reality, it’s a far cry from Queerness from the original settings, but a more familiar one as Martha Barrow sound design helps to weave between the time periods.

Across the production, particularly with ‘molly’ Louis Handley’s sensual moments with Norgaard and Harrison’s scenes with Antadze later into the productions, one person has a pivotal role to play: Rebecca Mahar. Their commendable intimacy direction is the vital crux of the performance. Without this, the show wouldn’t have worked to the insatiable and raw levels it manages. Equally, while not strictly a musical, more show with songs, musical director Falk Meier brings the small band (Daniel Bloom, Dan Bryant, and Lalit Mistry) together in a commendable manner that keeps pace and liveliness throughout. Located just offstage, these interludes of song and dance bring the jovial theatrical nature of it all together and affirm that period setting in familiar realms of the celebration of queerness, of the body, of love and lust.

Oh Mother, what wonders you house. Amour and contradiction sit together as bare as the day they were birthed in Bedlam Theatre’s remarkably adept and convincing staging of Ravenhill’s sincerely dark comedy. An enormous production, there isn’t a member of this house who shouldn’t be beaming with pride at the show. From the whores to the mollies and to everyone on (and behind) that stage who can hear the appreciative howls and cheers from a very thirsty audience: a bloody well done all around.

REVIEW: Mother Clap’s Molly House -

Saturday 16 March - By Rose Murray for A Young(ish) Perspective

Conor O’Cuinn’s adaptation of Mark Ravenhill’s Mother Clap’s Molly House roars onto the Bedlam Theatre’s stage, flamboyantly celebrating queer sexuality and society’s reviled outcasts. This deliciously ribald comedy transports us to the underground molly houses of 1726 Dorset, where the larger-than-life Mother Clap (a tour-de-force Olivia Martin) rules over a debauched sanctuary for her beloved family of “mollies”.

In Mother Clap’s domain, rigid moral boundaries are gleefully transgressed. Ravenhill’s consistently clever script blends profane, riotous comedy with surprising tenderness. Dreams, desires, and unfulfilled yearnings haunt every scene – from infertility struggles to giving deliriously vivid life to our most lurid fantasies through the brilliant use of flowing silk drapery framing the stage.

The tremendous ensemble attacks their roles with unbridled gusto. Olivia Martin seamlessly morphs from timid widow Mrs. Tull into the unabashedly carnal ringleader, commanding the stage with exquisite delivery and exaggerated physicality. The supporting cast matches her intensity, with Seb Elder’s Orme radiating yearning for true intimacy, Leo Shaw delivering a devilishly witty and physically dynamic performance as the wry Mr. Tull, and Ted Achery’s fiery Princess Seraphina exuding scorn and fragile vulnerability.

Musically, the production soars on celestial vocals from Chelsea Laurik’s pure-toned Miss Tull, evoking a divine realm that contrasts with the overt carnality. Nash Norgaard is a hilarious highlight as the lascivious Eros, providing relatable peeks into our most private fantasies.

The anachronistic 2001 storyline starts strongly by spotlighting LGBTQ lives during the AIDS crisis. However, it frustratingly devolves into reductive kink and cliched “misfit” portrayals, undercutting its initial poignancy.

Technically strong elements include the vividly colored period costumes and the fluid staging punctuated by the central four-poster bed – an apt symbol of the play’s explorations of morality and desire. However, moments like Martin’s muddled stylized movement piece could have benefited from sharper choreography.

While Ravenhill’s script blends humor and pathos deftly, this production suffers from tonal whiplash, veering between insightful tenderness and repetitive, cheap gags that undermine its resonant core. Yet at its best, Mother Clap’s is an admirably ambitious, bawdy celebration of the timeless human needs for belonging, safety, and unbridled sensual expression. While flawed in its tonal inconsistencies, pacing, and editing of the script, Mother Clap’s Molly House still deserves a robust three stars for its daring ambition and joyful celebration of outsider sexuality.

Review: Mother Clap's Molly House -

Sunday 17 March - By Jasmine Owen-Moulding for The Broad

Conor O’Cuinn’s rendition of Mother Clap’s Molly House by Mark Ravenhill transforms Bedlam Theatre into a raunchy portal between centuries, celebrating both the diversity of sexuality and our intrinsic desire for familial bonds. Set across two time periods in London, an 18th-century Molly House and a 21st-century sex party, the play manages to remain bold and spirited throughout whilst delivering a powerful narrative through the blend of black comedy and musical elements.

The production thrives on phenomenal performances from the cast, notably led by a spellbinding Olivia Martin (playing Mrs Tull). Martin’s portrayal is nothing short of transformative, breathing life into the character with every word and gesture, she commands the whole room. Special mention must also go to Benny Harrison and Seb Elder (playing Martin and Orme), together they are a powerhouse of charm, energy, and fantastic comedy. While these performances shine particularly brightly, the entire cast merits praise for their extraordinary talent in presenting performances that are at once eccentric, alluring, and hilarious, yet also full of depth.

Building on the momentum of these remarkable performances, O’Cuinn’s direction further elevates Mother Clap’s Molly House. He merges the emotive narrative with innovative staging and a keen attention to the dynamics between characters, capitalising on the humour to be found in each scene. Despite a run time that feels a tad lengthy at 2 hours and 50 minutes, every minute is filled with purpose. O’Cuinn balances the play’s comedic elements with its deeper, more reflective themes, guiding the audience through a spectrum of emotions that resonate long after the curtain falls.

Equally integral to the production’s success are the musical elements, orchestrated by Musical Director Falk Meier. The music transcends mere background accompaniment, becoming a vibrant character in its own right. The songs, often led by the Gods (played by Chelsea Laurik, Nash Norgaard, and Ellie Moore), not only enhance the narrative, but also underscore the play’s exploration of love, identity, and community. Through a harmonious blend of song and storytelling, the production envelops the audience in an immersive experience, enriched by every note and lyric. These musical moments are complimented by Greta Abbey’s choreography, I am especially impressed by the fan sequence pictured below.

The set design by Emilie Noël, is the epitome of understated efficacy. With subtlety and precision, Noël transforms the stage into a chameleon of eras, shifting effortlessly between the bawdy vibrancy of an 18th-century Molly House to the shadowed modernity of the 21st-century sex party. This transformation is heightened by the clever use of lighting and projection which are both key to the context of the stage, painting the backdrop of each era with a light that is as informative as it is atmospheric. The synergy between set, costume, lighting, and technical effects culminates in a visual alchemy that anchors the audience firmly within the play’s dual worlds.

Delivering an all-round unforgettable theatrical experience, the cast and crew of Mother Clap’s Molly House are well deserving of five stars for all they have achieved in their sold-out run.


Mother Clap's Molly House Trailer

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