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Mates in Chelsea, the Royal Court’s hilarious new comedy of manners

Wodehouse meets Wilde in Rory Mullarkey’s new play centred around a dissolute aristocrat who just wants to carry on doing exactly as he pleases

16 November 2023

Drawing on the comic legacy of P.G. Wodehouse and Oscar Wilde, Mates in Chelsea is a comedy of manners set in the Royal Borough that follows the escapades of wayward aristocrat Theodore ‘Tug’ Bungay, who likes his dissolute life the way it is. 

But things are not looking good for Tug, who describes himself as “a professional viscount”, and he is highly motivated in his attempts to avoid his frustrated fiancée dragging him up the aisle; being cut off from his funds by his mother, Lady Agrippina; and a hostile buy-out from an avaricious oligarch, who has designs on Tug’s beloved Northumberland castle. 

The play was written by Rory Mullarkey, who wrote in the Guardian about his love for the enduringly popular, long-running Channel 4 structured-reality television show, Made in Chelsea, and also features Fenella Woolgar as Lady Agrippina, Amy Booth-Steel and Natalie Dew.

As rehearsals kicked off, we met the cast of the play at The Sloane Club, where actor and self-proclaimed Wodehouse fan George Fouracres, who plays Tug’s best friend, said, “I forced myself to watch the first series of Made in Chelsea; it’s been weirdly helpful.” Ollie Locke’s lip movements held a particular fascination for him. “I’ve never known such confident lip movements. There’s something about his lips that I’m sort-of doing in my character.”

Performing at the Royal Court has given the cast an opportunity to get acquainted with the neighbourhood. “We’ve done lots of walking around and seeing where our characters might live,” explained Laurie Kynaston, who plays Tug, “and it is quite exceptionally beautiful around here. The architecture and the infrastructure and – and just how beautiful the parks are.”

“Chelsea Physic Garden is so nice,” added Karina Fernandez, who plays Tug’s financial advisor. “It’s like a botanical instruction as well as a moment of peace and beautifulness.”

Mates in Chelsea is the final all-new play programmed by Royal Court director Vicky Featherstone in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, and is directed by Royal Court associate director Sam Pritchard. It runs from 3 November to 16 December 2023, with a post-show talk with Mullarkey set for 14 November.

Be sure to book your tickets now to see this erudite comedy because, according to Fouracre, it is “really funny”, while Fernandez said it is “thought-provoking and full of surprises”.

Mates in Chelsea runs until Saturday, December 16. Tickets £12-£49. For more information and to book, please visit

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