Christmas 1941; Britain is reeling under Nazi bombardment, standing alone against Hitler, and desperately needing the US as its ally to survive. Prime Minister Winston Churchill visits President Franklin D Roosevelt in the White House; he is an unwanted and unruly guest - and falls seriously ill.
How can the alcohol-fuelled Churchill win the hearts and minds of a nation opposed to entering a war in Europe and a President intent on the dismantling of the British Empire?
Based on historical events.
A Play by Giles Cole © Holofcener Ltd
To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Allied landings on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
Scheduling a production during 2024.
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Winter. 1941. The darkest days of World War II. Britain is struggling under Nazi bombardment. Prime Minister Winston Churchill is having to strike a deal with Stalin in Russia. America is the ally Britain really needs - but neutral America is stinging from a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the Pacific Ocean. US President Franklin D Roosevelt is now intent on revenge in the Far East. If America is to be an ally, Churchill has to steer FDR away from fighting Japan to fighting a war across the Atlantic Ocean, in Europe, first. How?
Churchill invites himself to the White House to meet with the President. He considers the dangerous Atlantic crossing to be a risk worth taking.
The play lifts the lid on what happened (and what might have happened!) when Churchill landed in the White House, and exploded Eleanor Roosevelt's quiet, private family Christmas and their New Year celebrations in 1941/42. It exposes her animosity to Churchill; puts the presidential marital relationship under a microscope; reveals FDR's reluctance to countermand US military advisers, and shows how Churchill's health, and personal habits, made matters even worse.
Through a series of scenes, set against a wartime backdrop of Pathé Newsreel films, the play explores the emerging relationship between the two heads of state under the fierce gaze of Eleanor Roosevelt, as they establish a "special relationship". Churchill has to convince the United States Congress, as well as FDR, to help Britain fight the Nazis and become the UK's prime ally in World War II, which looks unlikely when he suffers a possible heart attack.
June 6, 2024 will be the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landings.
On the 2nd February 2023, Alliance had an invited audience reading at the Jermyn Street Theatre, London SW1, directed by Stephen Unwin. Cast included Simon Callow, Churchill; Adrian Lukis, General George C Marshall; Matthew Marsh, FDR; Guy Siner, Harry Hopkins; Jessica Turner, Eleanor Roosevelt; Graham Pountney, Admiral Harold R. Stark; and Alexander Knox, Elliott Roosevelt.
There's an acknowledgement of the two nations' relationship that is today reflected in the Allies sculpture in New Bond Street, London W1.
Graham Pountney was interviewed by Sarah Gorrell on BBC Radio Surrey & Sussex on the 20th November 2020.