FOUR cups of Apple Sauce. Two double bunk beds. One Comet. Heaven’s Gate is closing and the Away Team are ready for graduation.

“But whatever you do, don’t say the C-word (cult),” clarifies York-born actor and writer Joe Feeney, who will launch his new play Heaven’s Gate at the Great Yorkshire Fringe today (July 23) and Thursday.

On graduating last summer from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, in London, Joe made his professional debut in MESH Theatre’s production of R.C. Sherriff’s Journey’s End, performed in Ypres as part of the First World War centenary commemorations.

Joe is “excited to be bringing my new show to my beloved home city” before heading to Belgium to play Captain Stanhope in further performances of Journey’s End.

Presented by The Cosmic Collective, Heaven’s Gate imagines the final hour of four fictionalised members of the real-life UFO-theistic group. As they prepare for their “graduation” to the “Kingdom of Heaven”, initially the excitement is palpable, but soon the cracks start to appear.

Is Heavenly Father really waiting for them in a spaceship? Is the Earth actually about to be recycled? Was castration obligatory or not? Is Turkey Potpie an underwhelming last supper? Whatever you do, do not say the C-word!

“The Heaven’s Gate group have been a fascination and obsession for me for a number of years,” says Joe. “There’s a lot of humour to be found in their organisation.

“They believed that God was on a spaceship that materialised in the trail of the Hale-Bopp comet; many of their mantras were drawn verbatim from Star Wars and Star Trek; they all wore matching tracksuits and trainers and their website – which is still accessible online – has not aged well beyond 1997!”

So far, so humorous, “but be under no illusion, this was a cult that brainwashed and isolated its followers and tragically resulted in the mass suicide of 39 members,” says Joe.

“So it’s this clash of humour and tragedy, the unbelievable with the honest belief, the galactic ambition interspersed with their humble humanity, that makes this story so interesting and important to tell.”

The Cosmic Collective’s creative team is made up of Joe’s fellow Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts graduates, with George Price taking the helm as director after doing Macbeth for the Young Shakespeare Company.

Joe will be performing alongside Lewes Roberts (Big School for BBC One), Kate Cresswell (Hansel And Gretal, Royal Opera House) and York-born Anna Soden (Romeo And Juliet for China Plate).

Heaven’s Gate will be performed at The Arts Barge’s Selby Tony, moored by Tower Gardens; July 23, 7:30pm; The Basement, City Screen, York, July 25, 5.30pm. Box office: 01904 500600 or at

Please note, Heaven’s Gate carries a trigger warning: this play contains frequent references to suicide.