Sheffield gangster reimagined as woman for London’s biggest arts festival

Posted by: Ashley Birch
Sheffield gangster reimagined as woman for London’s biggest arts festival supporting image

Infamous 1920s gangster George Mooney is the star of a new dark comedy

The award winning Rusted Dust theatre group return to London’s Vault Festival this week with their new play, The Execution of Paddy Flynn, loosely based on infamous Sheffield gangster George Mooney.


Sheffield-born playwright Kieran O’Rourke, who founded the theatre group in 2011, has taken the decision to reimagine the 1920s gangster as a woman in this dark new comedy, which centres on the gangster’s attempts to fix a horse race in Doncaster.


Kieran O’ Rourke told VIBE: “In the first couple of drafts, George was still a man, but I have come to think it's important to write plays with a gender equal cast. It wasn't always my way of writing, so the first couple of drafts were all male characters.


“I came back to this play a year ago, after having not touched it for two years, and wondered which characters I could swap to women.


“It was actually our director and my good friend Sam Carrack who said to go for George. At first I thought, that's the one I can't change, he's real, but then realised that's exactly why that one is the one to change.


Director Sam added: “Just think how frighteningly scary a woman would’ve had to have been to be running a gang in pre-Suffragette Sheffield, and now we have one bad-ass protagonist.”


The play be shown at London’s biggest arts festival The Vault from Wednesday 13 – Sunday 17 March at 6.20pm, with a matinee on Saturday 16.



Sam said: “I’m really interested to see where our play sits within the festival this year, being situated in such a liberal, free thinking, arts platform it naturally attracts lots of plays that are tackling really important 21st century issues.


“We’re doing that still, especially with the racial undertones that lie within the play, but our play is a historical play, and what better way to affect the future than reminding people of where we’ve come from?”




As well as Mooney, the Sheffield-connections can be found throughout, with Sheffielder Leonora Stavrianakos producing and name checks for Bramall Lane, London Road and references to certain steel mills, pubs and districts of Sheffield. Kieran said: As a writer, it's lovely to be putting things you see every day and know well into your work.


“I've also tried to write the Sheffield patter and dialect in, it has a lovely rhythm to it. Also, in true Yorkshire style, some of the characters are quite blunt! So that makes for some funny moments.


“I'm heading to London to help the team get ready for show week, and I've got them each a bottle of Hendo's.”



If you're a Sheffield ex-pat or just fancy a jaunt down to the Big Smoke, head over to Vault Festival’s website for tickets.

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