from 22 March - 2nd June
Les Blancs
By Lorraine Hansberry
Directed by Yaël Farber
Role: George Rice
Cast includes: Elliot Cowan, James Fleet, Anna Madeley, Siân Phillips, Danny Sapani, Gary Beadle
The London premier of Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry at the National Theatre. The black American playwright Lorraine Hansberry had a tragically short life, dying of pancreatic cancer aged just 34, in 1965. But she burned bright, inspiring Nina Simone's song ‘To Be Young, Gifted and Black’, and moreover penning the Broadway standard A Raisin in the Sun. Her other plays are not well known, in part because they were mostly published after her death. The phenomenal South African director Yaël Farber makes her NT debut.
Clive Francis is wonderfully dyspeptic as the British major who came here to make this country into something; it's not an outpost of empire, but his home…then he shoots someone.
Michael Coveney, What’s on Stage

Major Rice is played with snarling precision by Clive Francis.
Henry Hitchins, Evening Standard

Yael Farber’s searing production brings Lorraine Hansberry’s unfinished play to life
Hansberry’s characters represent a vast array of humanity. She deeply understands – and demonstrates – that everyone is different, thinks differently, acts differently. Two searing performances dominate: Danny Sapani as Tshembe, an African man who has married a European woman, and Clive Francis as Major Rice. An officious, villainous racist – his character complemented by a moustache and uniform that strongly evoke Nazi iconography – Francis plays Rice with chilling, unrelenting callousness. Yet it is testament to Hansberry’s skill and Francis’s performance that he is still recognisably and believably human.
Tim Bano, The Stage

Hansberry’s play is not flawless, particularly in the somewhat declamatory second act. But Farber’s exquisite production tackles its moral complexities with finely calibrated assurance.
Jane Shilling, The Telegraph

Yaël Farber’s skilful revival makes a powerful case for its importance. The scenes at their old family home have the texture of Greek drama. But the tone grows closer to Chekhov when the action shifts to a modest local hospital founded by missionaries. Hansberry’s scepticism about religious faith is palpable, and Tshembe comments that “Men invoke the device of religion to cloak their conquests.” Yet not everyone needs such a cloak — as proved by ruthless Major Rice, played with snarling precision by Clive Francis.
Henry Hitchins, The Standard

One’s intellectual doubts, however, are overcome by the sensuous sweep of Farber’s production, which deploys a revolving Soutra Gilmour set, the minatory hum of Adam Cork’s sound design, and impressive performances from Gary Beadle and Tunji Kasim as Tshembe’s brothers and from Siân Phillips, Anna Madeley, James Fleet and Clive Francis as contrasting facets of white interventionism. An imperfect play, given a near-perfect production.
Michael Billington, The Guardian
Photographer: Mark Douet
10th November 2016 - 25th March 2017
An Inspector Calls
By J. B. Priestley
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Cast included: Barbara Marten, Liam Brennan, Matthew Douglas, Carmella Corbett
Clive Francis played Mr Birling alongside, Barbara Marten (Mrs Birling), Liam Brennan (Inspector Goole), Matthew Douglas (Gerald Croft), Carmela Corbett (Sheila Birling), Hamish Riddle (Eric Birling), Diana Payne-Myers (Edna), Geoffrey Towers, Benedict Salter and Beth Tuckey.

Clive Francis said about the casting: “An Inspector Calls is one of the great classic plays of the 20th century. It premiered in London’s West End the year I was born and has now been seen by a whole new generation of theatre goers thanks to Stephen Daldry’s brilliant and masterly production. An Inspector Calls is considered one of Priestley’s greatest works, and has been subject to a variety of interesting interpretations, none more so than this historic National Theatre revival which I’m delighted to be part of.”

Clive Francis – augmented by a small ‘Family’ of fellow workers, all lovingly realised - is courteous reticence and fastidious diligence personified.
Dominic Cavendish, The Daily Telegraph

Clive Francis blusters magnificently as the self-important industrialist, Arthur Birling. Stephen Daldry’s production is as fresh and bold as it was when it first opened in 1992.
Jane Edwardes The Sunday Times.
Copyright © 2016 Clive Francis. All rights reserved. Main photograph of Clive Francis by Simon Annand.