Spies betray people. That’s what we do. It becomes a – a habit. Difficult to break – even when it’s not – not strictly necessary

Wormwood Scrubs Prison, London, 1961. One of Britain’s most notorious double agents, George Blake, known to have worked for KGB, is serving a 42 year sentence – that is, until he strikes up an unlikely friendship with Irish petty criminal, Sean Bourke. Both men are eccentric outsiders, and each sees the possibility of escape – and not just from prison – through the other. But once on the outside, can their mutual dependence survive the mounting pressures they face from MI5, from the KGB – and indeed from themselves?

Simon Gray’s absorbing and deftly funny play, unperformed since 1995, explores how personal freedom is an illusion and even friendship must have carefully circumscribed limits in a world where deception is a reflex response.

Gray wrote more than 30 plays for stage and television, including Quartermaine’s TermsButley,Otherwise EngagedThe Common Pursuit and Japes. He also wrote five novels as well as a series of memoirs that include The Smoking Diaries trilogy and Coda. For more information please visit www.simongray.org.uk.

Edward Hall has directed some of Hampstead’s biggest hits including the Olivier Award winning musical Sunny Afternoon, Filthy BusinessRabbit HoleChariots of Fire and Wonderland.

Geoffrey Streatfeild returns to Hampstead to play George Blake following his acclaimed role as Platonov in Michael Frayn’s Wild Honey earlier this year. His previous theatre credits include Young Chekhov: Ivanov and The SeagullChildren of the Sun and Earthquakes in London (all National Theatre) and My Night with Reg (Donmar/West End).

Emmet Byrne stars opposite Geoffrey as Blake’s partner in crime, Sean Bourke. His recent theatre credits include Angela’s Ashes (Irish Tour), Breaking Dad and Big Maggie (Gaity Theatre). His television credits include the hit Irish crime drama, Striking Out.