“Yes. I’ll tell you the cause of poverty. It’s money.”

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell was written at the turn of the last century and published shortly after his death in 1911.

The novel follows the lives of a group of Edwardian painters and decorators in the fictional town of Mugsborough (based on Hastings) on the south coast of England. The firm they work for, Rushton & Co, employs them to renovate a ramshackle Victorian house called The Cave, and the action centres around the firm’s exploitation of the workers and the dangerous conditions in which they work. The craftsmen would like to do a decent job but are constrained by the need of their employers to keep costs down.

The relationships between the painters and decorators and their bosses are touchingly drawn as we see them at work, rest and play. We are shown a mirror on society just before the first world war through the eyes of ordinary men and women whose stories are rarely told. This is a tale of love and infidelity, the struggle to make ends meet, people’s capacity to have fun and be creative in the face of adversity, and the tragic consequences of too much cost cutting. There is comedy and tragedy, and an attempt to imagine a fairer world for all.

Howard Brenton’s brilliant adaptation was first staged at the Liverpool Everyman in 2010 and combines modern theatrical techniques with traditional realism. The bosses are played by actors in ‘fat cat’ masks (courtesy of Steve Bell), and the action is enlivened with a home-made panorama show and traditional Edwardian songs.

Never dull and highly entertaining, this adaptation of a well-loved classic is just as relevant today in a world of zero hours contracts and the gig economy as when it was first penned over a hundred years ago.

An amateur production by arrangement with Nick Hern Books.

OTG are leading the way in amateur theatre” Oxford Times on Doubt: A Parable

Parking & Access


There are a number of Blue Badge parking spaces nearby on Beaumont Street, and more on New Inn Hall Street and St Giles.

The closest car park is Gloucester Green Car Park, accessed via Gloucester Street.

If you have any questions or concerns, the City Council’s Access Officer can be reached at 01865 249811.

Car parks in Oxford Blue Badge information Public transport in Oxford


Disabled patrons are eligible for one free companion ticket with their booking. To book this, contact the ticket office: or 01865 263990.

There are two entrances to the Old Fire Station: 40 George Street via the foyer, and on Gloucester Green via the shop. Both are step-free. If you are coming to a show, we ask that you use the George Street entrance, as the Gloucester Green entrance is not always open.

Events in the Theatre

There is level entry to the foyer of the Old Fire Station, and step-free access to the main Theatre (where most shows take place).

If you are a wheelchair user attending a sit-down show, space will be reserved for you. If you are attending a standing gig, please contact us (call the ticket office on 01865 263990 or e-mail and we will talk with you about your needs.

Events in the Studio

There is level entry into the foyer of the Old Fire Station, and step-free access to the Studio.

Events in the Loft

There are six steps leading up to the Loft space, with no lift. If you would like to discuss this to find out more, please get in touch.

The Gallery

There is step-free access to the Gallery – level entry through the George Street entrance, and via lift from the Gloucester Green entrance.


Accessible toilet
There is an accessible toilet on the ground floor, accessible via platform lift. Other toilets are in the basement (accessible via lift).

Hearing assistance system
The Theatre is equipped with a hearing assistance system. If you have any questions about using it, please e-mail us at or phone 01865 263980.

Assistance dogs
All types of assistance and guide dogs are welcome at the Old Fire Station. It would be great if you could let us know in advance if you will be bringing a working dog to any performances – just e-mail

Strobe lighting
We will warn visitors on the website and in the foyer of the venue if a performance is going to contain strobe lighting. If lighting affects you, and you have any concerns, please call the ticket office on 01865 263990 or e-mail

Chairs in the theatre
Our chairs are a standard dining-chair size, measuring 40cm deep by 37cm wide, with a metal frame. Some have arms, and some do not. They are all joined together at the sides, to form rows. If this is likely to pose a problem for you, please email and we can discuss how to make your visit more comfortable.