Simon Russell Beale and Alex Jennings in Spatchcocked! by Bruce McKay
Henry Fielding and The Foundling Hospital
Henry Fielding’s support of The Foundling Hospital is highlighted in a black comedy by Bruce McKay about the writer and Coram’s great benefactor William Hogarth.
Covering the lives and struggles of Henry Fielding and William Hogarth, the play was performed in 2016 as part of the charity’s 275th anniversary celebrations of the First Admission of a child to the Foundling Hospital in March 1741.
Henry Fielding, the novelist, magistrate and founder of the modern police force, was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1739. With his friend William Hogarth, he fought against corruption and injustice and was a supporter of The Foundling Hospital.
“An entrenched and conservative government, packed with Old Etonians and corruption, controls the press & censors any opposition. The banks have taken over the economy. The new super-rich in “society” are stuffing their purses, avoiding tax, and buying honours, while the poor die in abject poverty. Illegitimate children are being abandoned and left to die all over London.
“Gin, the new cheap street drug, has created a stupified population, a monster crime wave with gangs running rife but there’s no organised police force!
“Drinking buddies Henry Fielding, successful playwright, and William Hogarth, satirical cartoonist, decide enough is enough! Meanwhile, Thomas Coram lobbies George II to support the creation of a Foundling Hospital.”
The cast was led by Simon Russell Beale, (King Lear, The Hollow Crown, Spooks), Lucy Briggs-Owen (Midsomer Murders, Siblings), Oliver Chris ( Bluestone 42, Charles III, Green Wing, One Man Two Governors) and Ron Cook (Mr Selfridge, The Homecoming, Edwin Drood, King Lear NT), among others.