Derby Day

There’s a whole lot going on in Derby Day. Brothers Frank, Ned and Johnny meet in a private box immediately after burying their father. They’ve all been through their respective tragedies in their years apart, and the hour they spend on stage shows the audience a family reunion they won’t forget in a hurry.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, male-driven drama held together by its talented cast, then Derby Day won’t leave you disappointed.

It doesn’t take long to become a little ridiculous. Although the cast give mostly skilled and emotional performances, the play itself is outrageously melodramatic - reveal after reveal, fight after fight, it’s enough to give the audience emotional whiplash, and by calling in tragedy on tragedy manages to avoid giving any sort of interesting commentary on any single one.

That said, the cast do their best - Becky (Teresa Stephenson) the waitress is particularly compelling in what could easily be played as a nondescript bit part. She’s soft and powerful all at once; the maternal instinct that drives her character is spot on. Middle brother, Ned (Malcolm Madera) is also impressive, creating a genuinely nasty, crude character without becoming a simple villain.

It’s not easy to get as much action as Derby Day calls for into such a small space, but the fight scenes are executed elegantly. Some clever use of props in fights will have your heart in your throat, and the whole piece is staged with attention to detail; wherever you look, there’s something to see. It’s slick and high-energy in its visuals - it’s just unfortunate that Williams’ script doesn’t give the cast enough to maintain the emotional atmosphere through the relentless plot turns and revelations.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, male-driven drama held together by its talented cast, then Derby Day won’t leave you disappointed; the piece knows its audience and absolutely appeals to them. It’s up to you to work out whether that includes you, or not.

Reviews by Caitlin Hobbs

Paradise in The Vault

The Cupboard

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall


Scottish Storytelling Centre

Pirates and Mermaids



theSpace @ Jury's Inn

One Above


Cracked Tiles


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

It's Derby Day, and the Ballard brothers have a luxury box at the Oaklawn Racetrack in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Their father has just died, and Frank, the oldest, has flown down from Chicago to see the angry newlywed Ned, and the ex-con Johnny. Over the course of one long day the Ballard boys destroy everything and everyone in their way – drinking, cursing, and revealing family secrets that might just tear them apart forever. Playwright Samuel Brett Williams explores family, love, and mortality in a dark comedy that culminates in a race that you will never forget.

Most Popular See More


From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets