Sean Foley (director)

Sean Foley (born 21 November 1964) is a British director, writer, comedian and actor. Following early success as part of the comedy double act The Right Size and their long-running stage show The Play What I Wrote, Foley has more recently become a director of successful West End comedy productions.

Sean Foley
Born (1964-11-21) 21 November 1964[1]
Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, England, UK
Known forDirector, writer, actor, comedian

Early career and The Right Size

Foley and Hamish McColl formed The Right Size in 1988.[2] They devised and performed in the shows, with regular creative team collaborators such as director Jozef Houben,[3] designer Alice Power,[4] and songwriter Chris Larner.[5][6] Their style combined elements of clowning, physical comedy, mime, slapstick,[7] vaudeville and variety.[8][9] The Right Size's major successes were Do You Come Here Often?, about two strangers stuck in a bathroom for 25 years, and The Play What I Wrote, a tribute to Morecambe and Wise.[1] The Right Size were active until 2006.


Foley has played some major parts in traditional scripted roles, including Freud in Hysteria by Terry Johnson at Birmingham Rep in 2007,[10] and the single role in the film of Samuel Beckett's Act Without Words I directed by Karel Reisz.[11] He appeared alongside Mark Rylance in I Am Shakespeare at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester in 2007.[12] He was a member of the Oxford Youth Theatre during his time at the University of Oxford, where he studied history.[10]

Writing and directing

Foley made his directorial debut in 2007 with Pinter's People.[1] He then directed several stage shows by stand-up comedians including Joan Rivers, Nina Conti and Armstrong and Miller.[13]

He achieved significant West End success in 2012, when he directed productions of The Ladykillers (for which he was nominated for the 2012 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director) and Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw. He also, with Patrick Barlow, co-directed and co-wrote a four-actor stage adaptation of Ben Hur at the Watermill Theatre, a regional English theatre.[14]

In 2013, Foley made his Royal Shakespeare Company debut, directing Thomas Middleton's A Mad World, My Masters.[15] The production was well received by UK critics, notably by Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail[16] who gave the show five stars, and in the Financial Times, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.

It was announced in June 2013 that Foley would be directing Matthew MacFadyen and Stephen Mangan in a theatrical adaptation of P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories, to be titled Perfect Nonsense, at the Duke of York's Theatre, London, from 30 October 2013.[17][18] Foley also directed the X Factor stage musical, I Can't Sing! The X Factor Musical, which premiered in 2014.[19][20]

Foley adapted and directed The Painkiller starring Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon during the Kenneth Branagh season at the Garrick Theatre in the West End in March 2016. He also adapted Eugène Ionesco's Amédée, or How to Get Rid of It starring Josie Lawrence and Trevor Fox in March 2017 at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. He directed his and Phil Porter's adaptation of Molière's The Miser starring Griff Rhys Jones, Lee Mack and Mathew Horne at the Garrick Theatre which was nominated for an 2018 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.

On 19 March 2019 it was announced that Foley would become Artistic Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre beginning in summer 2019, with his first season of work starting 2020.[21]

Foley will also adapt and direct The Man in the White Suit for the stage, starring Stephen Mangan and Kara Tointon, beginning at the Theatre Royal, Bath for 3 weeks before transferring to the Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End from 9 October 2019.

Awards and nominations

Olivier Awards


Tony Awards


Selected other work



  • The Remains of Foley and McColl
  • Foley and McColl Again
  • The Goldfish Bowl


  • Morality Play
  • Mindhorn (2016 feature film)


  1. Caroline Ansdell, "20 Questions With... Sean Foley - Interviews" Archived 15 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine,, 22 January 2007. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  2. Noor Hayati, "Three's The Right Size", New Straits Times, 1 July 1989. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  3. "Spymonkey's Moby Dick" Archived 21 April 2013 at Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  4. "The Agency - Clients - Individuals" Archived 1 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine, the agency. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  5. "Chris Larner: CV: Acting: Stage". Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  6. "Chris Larner: CV: General". Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  7. Nick Curtis, "THE FRINGE / Not as funny as all that: Nick Curtis on the caperings of Penny Dreadful and the calm Song for a Bluefoot Man", The Independent, 6 October 1993. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  8. Brian Logan, "How stupid can they get?", The Guardian, 12 July 1999. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  9. Fiachra Gibbons, "The play what is breaking West End theatre records", The Guardian, 22 December 2001 . Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  10. Terry Grimley, "Terry Grimley meets Sean Foley, co-creator of The Play What I Wrote, now playing Sigmund Freud at Birmingham Rep.", The Birmingham Post, 25 April 2007. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  11. Karel Reisz, "Beckett on Film", The Guardian, 25 June 2001. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
  12. Michael Billington, "Theatre review: I Am Shakespeare / Minerva, Chichester | Stage", The Guardian, 3 September 2007. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  13. "The Agency - Clients - Individuals" Archived 5 May 2013 at, the agency. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  14. "The Watermill Theatre - Ben Hur", The Watermill Theatre. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  15. "A Mad World My Masters" Archived 11 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Royal Shakespeare Company. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  16. Patrick Marmion, "Jacobean romp rides again as a sexy Soho satire: 17th century play given an uproarious update", Daily Mail, 13 June 2013. Retrieved 26-06-13
  17. Charlotte Marshall, "Perfect Nonsense for MacFadyen and Mangan", Official London Theatre, 3 June 2013. Retrieved 26-06-13.
  18. "Sean Foley" Archived 29 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  19. "X Factor - It’s Time To Face The Musical!" Archived 5 May 2013 at, Stage Entertainment, 15 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
  20. Alice Vincent, "X Factor the musical, written by Harry Hill, to launch in Spring 2014", The Telegraph, 15 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
  21. "The REP Announces New Artistic and Executive Directors". Retrieved 13 April 2019.
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