Reprieve to stage cruel and unusual show: Irish comedian versus American death penalty

September 24, 2008

Image of a spotlight in a dark room

Hen and Chickens Theatre, London
November 11th – 15th, 9.30 p.m.
Tickets £10 – All Proceeds to Reprieve

Reprieve, the legal action charity, is delighted to announce that it will be staging Cruel and Unusual, Keith Farnan’s brilliant one-man comedy show about the death penalty.

The show, which runs from November 11 to 15 at the Hen and Chickens Theatre (109 St Paul’s Road, Highbury, London N1) gives Reprieve an invaluable opportunity to raise awareness about the continuing work we do for people facing the death penalty and other human rights violations around the world.

Cruel and Unusual is a stand-up show telling the story of comedian Keith Farnan’s journey from law school in Ireland to the Innocence Project in New York City; meeting with Sr. Helen Prejean of Dead Man Walking fame; and visiting a Public Defender’s office in Georgia.

“Keith Farnan: Cruel and Unusual manages to be genuinely informative about death row, genuinely realistic about the possibility of change, and genuinely funny enough to receive several rounds of applause.” – Three Weeks

“Spellbinding!” – Chortle

‘Cruel and unusual punishment’ is prohibited under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But the Death Penalty is still legal. This means that you can hang someone, shoot them, electrocute them and poison them – but under no circumstances should you have someone executed by dropping a giant jelly bean on their head, by a dwarf, in a penguin suit.

Because that’d be cruel … and unusual.

For the past two years, Keith has toured internationally as a comedian, working in some of the best comedy clubs in the world, including the Comedy Store in London, the Laughter Lounge in Dublin and the Latter Club in Oslo. His shows have taken him to the Middle East, and all over the UK and Europe, including, of course, Ireland. Cruel and Unusual was received with tremendous critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival earlier this year and Keith is planning a tour of the southern states of America for 2009.


Reprieve is a legal action charity, founded by Clive Stafford Smith in 1999.

Reprieve uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

We investigate, litigate and educate. Working on the frontline, we provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves, promoting the rule of law around the world, and securing each person’s right to a fair trial. In doing so, we save lives.

Reprieve’s current casework involves:

• representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay.

• working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty.

• conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secretdetention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

For further information about Reprieve, and Reprieve’s involvement with Keith Farnan’s Cruel and Unusual, please contact Alex Grace, Reprieve’s Event Producer, on 07779 614054 or email:

To reserve tickets for Cruel and Unusual please call the Hen and Chickens box office on 020 7704 2001.

ReprievePO Box 52742LondonEC4P 4WSTel: 020 7353 4640Fax: 020 7353 4641Email:

Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guaranteeRegistered Charity No. 1114900 Registered Company No. 5777831 (England)Registered Office 2-6 Cannon Street London EC4M 6YHPatrons: Alan Bennett, Martha Lane Fox, Sir John Mortimer, Gordon Roddick, Jon Snow, Marina Warner