Duration: 2hrs approx.

Part of the Barn’s 2020/2021 season



By Glyn Maxwell

18th & 19th December at 8pm

A Reading of the Play presented in honour of the 100th Anniversary of Welwyn Garden City and the 50th Anniversary of the Barn Theatre

A ‘LIVE’ full-cast reading via ZOOM

Duration: 70mins approx.

Part of the Barn’s 2020/2021 season



Written and Directed By Glyn Maxwell

A Reading of the Play presented in honour of the 100th Anniversary of Welwyn Garden City and the 50th Anniversary of the Barn Theatre

Friday 18th & Saturday 19th December 2020 at 8pm via ZOOM

A LIVE full-cast reading via ZOOM


Linnet – Georgia Sutcliffe

Edward Handside/Greg Phelan – Danny Swanson

Julia Handside/Celia Handside – Celia Roberts

George Guessens – Tallan Cameron

Molly Bailey/May Nixon – Steph Cotter

Laurence Wilson – Paul Russell

Adam – Felix Sutcliffe

Gemma – Darcie White (Friday), Georgina Bennett (Saturday)

Rhona Lockley – Lou Wallace

Mr Russell/Neil Beaumont – Stuart Handysides

Capt. Sylvester Bell/’Ridakt’ – Andy Hill

Miriam Stokes/Donna – Victoria Rive

Bob Fenwick – Chris Gill

Lily Wilkie/Anni Goldman – Jessica Harding

Mrs May Butler – Jan Palmer Sayer

Narration by members of the Cast


Director – Glyn Maxwell

Broadcast Technical – John Cook

Poster – Steve Wilson


City of Tomorrow is a play about a Garden City. It is of course inspired by the town where I was born and grew up – Happy Birthday WGC! – but I wanted to pay tribute to all places – in the past, present and, in this play, the future – that once grew or still grow out of dreams and hopes for a better life for all citizens of humanity. The play will get its full production at the Barn when the world is turning again. Thank you for watching and helping out the theatre at a time of need.


Adam Passmore, a schoolboy, tries to read his prize-winning Garden City Centenary poem. The local MP Greg Phelan has his own agenda. The disappointed Adam meets Gemma, who is equally unimpressed but agrees to go on a tour of the town with him.

Town planner and philosopher Edward Handside lectures on possible towns of the future…

Schoolgirl Linnet Casper starts thinking along the same lines

Handside and his wife Julia, along with idealistic young architect George Guessens, take a summer walk in the meadows of Hertfordshire, looking for a place to build their dream-town.

Caught in a sudden storm, they take shelter at a lonely farmhouse, where they meet Laurence Wilson, the  farmer,  and farmhand Molly Bailey, who is especially interested in the detailed plan of a town they have. George meanwhile is interested in Molly.

As Adam shows Gemma around her own town, we see scenes of long ago:

The Handsides and their friends pose as statues for a monument to the Garden City ideals…

The early days of the Town’s first theatre, the Garden City Players…

George Guessens, disillusioned with the way his ideas were put into practice, visits the new Garden City Bookshop, and encounters a girl he hasn’t seen since once upon a time she worked on a farm…

1930s, 1940s, 1960s
The farmer Laurence Wilson sees the town grow up around the place where his farm used to be. He meets his old friend Julia Handside, and then her daughter Celia, but his memories start to blur together…

arrives in the town, on Centenary Day, wanting to start her City for Girls. But ‘ridAkt’, a strange man she meets, doesn’t think females should be starting anything…

The elderly Mrs May Butler – whose mother was Molly Bailey – is visited by Neil and Susan, a young couple with a Petition. They don’t think the ‘Garden City’ spirit ought to be extended to people from other places.

The encounter reminds Mrs May Butler of a day long ago, when she met a girl called Anni Goldman crying in the woods because she missed her home in Germany.

Linnet, hacked and imperilled by her alt-right foe ridAkt, is being hunted through the town by a violent mob. She takes shelter in a derelict building   and encounters Adam and Gemma. It’s the last stop on their tour: it used to be a farm building, then it was the Garden City’s first theatre, As the mob close in on them, Adam has the strangest idea of how they might save themselves…

“Glyn Maxwell is the best dramatic poet now writing in English”

– Daily Telegraph

In 1918 three idealistic Londoners – town planner Edward, his sceptical wife Julia, and architect George – find a bluebell meadow in the countryside and plan their Garden City of Tomorrow. Caught in a summer deluge they take shelter in a farmhouse, where the farmer Wilson becomes suspicious of their intentions, and Molly, a farmhand, listens to the moonlit dreams of the young idealist George.

A century later Linnet, an alienated schoolgirl, sick of the world of boys, writes a blog about Linnetville, the City of Girls Only, while at the Centenary celebrations in 2020, Adam, a teenage poet on the posh side of town, has a crush on Gemma, a sarcastic school-leaver from the wrong side of the tracks. Smitten, he takes her on an awkward tour of the Garden City’s sites, each one leading to a story from the past life of their town.

We see the early days of the Garden City Players, putting on Shakespeare in abandoned farm buildings; we see the first bookshop, and how the founders’ utopian dreams collided with practical reality. Threaded between these settings are the verbatim recollections of actual Garden Citizens: their joys and disappointments, sorrows and delights. We follow the town through the innocent days of dances and societies, through the black-shirts, the Blitz and the hand held out to refugees, to the rapid expansion of the town, the fading of community under the onslaught of the Market and the power of the web. Then come the darker shadows of modern England: division and delusion, the tabloids, trolling…

All the way to 2020, where Adam nervously follows Gemma to a derelict hall by the railway. There they encounter the terrified Linnet, whose radical ideas have led to her needing protection from a hate-filled mob. This oddball trio prepares for the worst, till an early memory of the Garden City suggests an improbable path to survival…

The City of Tomorrow is a poetic and impressionistic drama that explores a hundred years of Garden City history as a series of answers to the question the whole world is asking: How will we live together?



Linnet – Georgia Sutcliffe

Edward Handside – Danny Swanson

Julia Handside – Celia Roberts

George Guessens – Tallan Cameron

Molly Bailey – Steph Cotter

Laurence Wilson – Paul Russell

Adam – Felix Sutcliffe

Gemma – Georgina Bennett, Darcie White

Rhona Lockley – Lou Wallace

Mr Russell – Stuart Handysides

Capt. Sylvester Bell – Andy Hill

Miriam Stokes – Victoria Rive

Bob Fenwick – Chris Gill

Lilian – Jessica Harding

Mrs May Butler – Jan Palmer Sayer


Director – Glyn Maxwell

Broadcast Technical – John Cook

Poster – Steve Wilson

Production PHOTOS


“A richly dark and comic tale that absorbs the listener and makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.”

- The Verb Radio 3

“Glyn Maxwell’s well-crafted monologue is highly effective in its combination of the superficial banter expected of a best man with an unexpected dark wit. Hidden jealousies, bitter resentment and deep disgust erupt as Bailey throws open a door on the sinister side of the groom’s life and character”

- The Independent

“Glyn Maxwell’s poetic verse is a work of art in itself and is coupled with Swanson’s precise and passionate delivery.”​

- The Scotsman

“A head strong captivating production.”

- Three Weeks

“Poignant, haunting and mesmerising the Best Man is a powerful meditation on chances untaken”

- The Fest

“ An outstanding piece of theatre that will strike a chord with everyone...”

- The Scotsman

“ Glyn Maxwell's Superbly written one-man play coupled with Danny Swanson's vivid characterisation will have you on the edge of your seat...”

- The List
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