53two launch their first season with World Premiere, ‘Things That Divide Us’, directed by Venue Creative Director, Simon Naylor

53two launch their first season with World Premiere, ‘Things That Divide Us’, directed by Venue Creative Director, Simon Naylor

As 53two move into the next phase of life in their new home beneath Manchester Central, they are starting as they mean to go on with a brand-new one-act play from writer Joshua Chandos and his lived experiences. ‘Things That Divide Us’ follows Kitty and David, both looking to fill a gap in their lives. They strike up an unlikely friendship that blossoms in the stark surroundings of a Calais refugee camp. Over the course of their friendship, they realise that maybe they do have more in common than they first thought, bonding over a shared passion to fix the ever-growing refugee crisis.

“This piece means so much to me. My eye-opening, mind-expanding experiences of European refugee camps and the friendships that are forged across divides and despite borders and inhumane laws will stay with me forever. It is a privilege to work with Simon and the team on this project. The messages and themes of this play are embedded in the foundations of 53two. I’m so honoured to have the piece made by a team that believes in its core.” – Joshua Chandos, Writer

Taking the role of ‘David’ in this funny and moving two-hander is Mancunian actor Callum Sim with the role of ‘Kitty’ being played by Burnley actress Beth Lily-Banks – a recent Manchester School of Theatre Graduate. 53two’s Creative Director Simon Naylor, who has yet to oversee a show in his new venue, is excited to get back to creating theatre beneath the iconic arches.

“I first read Joshua’s play in lockdown as a judge for Capsule Festival. His writing is everything I love – a seemingly simple relationship between two people that allows us to go with them on a journey that is about as ‘human’ as it gets. A beautifully observed piece that will have you laughing out loud and in the next beat smiling through the tears. I can’t think of a better piece to officially launch a full 53two production in the new and improved arches.” – Simon Naylor, Creative Director – 53two

As usual with 53two, access is key and the venue will be offering £2 Unwaged Tickets at every show for those that are currently out of work or receiving any financial support and the venue is fully accessible.

Support dogs are welcome and any carers receive a free ticket. The show will be BSL Interpreted on 17th & 29th September with a relaxed performance on 18th October.

The play previews on 13 & 14th September. ‘Things That Divide Us’ will run until 1st October. Those wishing to attend should check the website for full performance listings at www.53two.com/ttdu

For more information on the venue or Sponsorship Packages & advertising, please contact Simon on [email protected]

To donate to 53two and it’s ongoing developments, visit www.53two.com/donate

LONDON THEATRE WEEK RETURNS BIGGER THAN EVER THIS AUGUST WITH ALMOST 60 SHOWS

LONDON THEATRE WEEK

RETURNS BIGGER THAN EVER THIS AUGUST

ALMOST 60 WEST END, CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED SHOWS WILL BE TAKING PART WITH TICKETS FROM AS LITTLE AS £15

LAUNCHES TODAY, AUGUST 22, WITH A 2 WEEK RUN UNTIL SEPTEMBER 4

London Theatre Week is back and bigger than ever before with almost 60 spectacular shows taking part. The annual campaign kicks off with a two-week offering of many of the best and biggest West End shows with prices as low as £15. Launching today until September 4th, this year’s London Theatre Week includes such high-calibre performances such as Disney’s Frozen, The Lion King, Pretty Woman, and The Book of Mormon.  

© JOHAN PERSSON

Tickets are available from as little as £15, £25, £35, and £45, empowering more audiences to enjoy the West End and continue to support live theatre.

Tickets are now on sale at londontheatreweek.com and via the TodayTix app.

Returning to the campaign this year are classic hit West End shows including The Phantom of the OperaBack to the Futureand Les Misérables. As part of the offerings this year, TodayTix Group is pleased to welcome newcomers to the West End stage to be a part of the campaign, including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Eureka Day, The Doctor, and 2:22 A Ghost Story.

On presenting the extended campaign this year, Merritt Baer, Co-Founder and President of TodayTix Group, the global e-commerce leader for cultural experiences, said today,

We are beyond thrilled by how both audiences and West End shows have responded to the creation of London Theatre Week. We are ecstatic at being able to partner with such high-calibre shows to offer compelling, affordable prices on productions that truly prove what’s magical about live theatre. Whether you’re looking for something that’s family-friendly, a splashy musical, or a thought-provoking play, London Theatre Week has something for everyone.”

For more information about London Theatre Week and to purchase tickets, please visit londontheatreweek.com.

The shows available include: &Juliet, A Christmas Carol, Anything Goes, Back to the Future, Bad Jews, Circus 1903, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Demon Dentist, Dirty Dancing, Eureka Day, Disney’s Frozen, Get Up Stand Up, 2:22 A Ghost Story, Grease, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Heathers, Jack Absolute Flies Again, Jersey Boys, John Gabriel Borkman, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Magic Mike Live!, Mamma Mia, Mary Poppins, Matilda, Millennials, Much Ado About Nothing, My Fair Lady, Only Fools and Horses, The Phantom of the Opera, Pretty Woman, Punchdrunk’s The Burnt City, Sister Act, The Book of Mormon, The Doctor, The Drifters Girl, The Lion King, The Play That Goes Wrong, The Woman in Black, Tina, Tosca, Walking with Ghosts, Witness for the Prosecution, Wonderville and more.

Elizabeth McGovern in WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? at Theatre Royal Bath

Theatre Royal Bath Productions present
ELIZABETH McGOVERN in
WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
by Edward Albee
Directed by Lindsay Posner

 Friday 13 January to Saturday 11 February 2023

Theatre Royal Bath Productions present Edward Albee’s masterpiece Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  starring Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey) and directed by Lindsay Posner, which will play Theatre Royal Bath from 13 January to 11 February 2023.

During the course of one brutal and hilarious night, George, a college professor, and his wife Martha invite a young couple back for late-night drinks after a faculty party. As the alcohol flows, the guests are coerced into witnessing and participating in George and Martha’s sadistic game-playing and vitriolic verbal scrapping which reaches its climax in a momentous revelation.

First staged on Broadway in 1962, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? was soon established as one of the great plays in post-war American drama, winner of the Tony and Critics’ Circle Awards for Best New Play. Its reputation was further enhanced by Mike Nichols’ multi Academy Award winning 1966 film adaptation, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Sixty years on from its premiere, it is now seen as one of the most influential and highly regarded plays in American literature.

Elizabeth McGovern is best known for playing Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey. She was Academy Award nominated for her portrayal of Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime, and had leading roles in the movies Once Upon A Time In America, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Wings of the Dove. Her recent stage credits include the UK tour of God of Carnage.

Further cast and creative team to be announced.

Listings

Friday 13 January to Saturday 11 February 2023
Theatre Royal Bath’s Ustinov Studio
theatreroyal.org.uk  

Kris Marshall in CHARLOTTE & THEODORE. World Premiere production at Theatre Royal Bath

Theatre Royal Bath Productions present
KRIS MARSHALL in
THE WORLD PREMIERE PRODUCTION OF
CHARLOTTE & THEODORE
by Ryan Craig
Directed by Terry Johnson

Thursday 16 February – Saturday 18 March 2023

The most divisive issues of our generation are tackled head on in Ryan Craig’s timely new play, directed by Terry Johnson. Starring Kris Marshall (My Family, Love Actually), Charlotte & Theodore will play Theatre Royal Bath from Thursday 16 February – Saturday 18 March 2023.

Cancel culture, gender politics, trans rights, online abuse and power struggles are all at play on a University campus which is more like a battleground, where every well-intentioned thought and deed can have unexpected and long-lasting consequences. It is here that we meet two idealistic academics, Lotty and Teddy, as they pick their way through the political and social minefield to embark on a decade long romance.

Teddy is played by television favourite Kris Marshall. Kris has starred in some of the most popular films and television series of the last twenty years, with lead roles in Love Actually, My Family and Death in Paradise. His stage roles include Treats opposite Billie Piper, Fat Pig in the West End with Robert Webb and Joanna Page, and the London revival of Glengarry Glen Ross alongside Christian Slater and Robert Glenister.

Ryan Craig is one of Britain’s most exciting playwrights. He earned a nomination for Most Promising Playwright at Evening Standard Theatre Awards for his debut play What We Did to Weinstein. His follow up works The Glass Room, which deals with Holocaust denial, and The Holy Rosenbergs at the National Theatre earned him a reputation for probing social norms and ethical issues in his plays.

Terry Johnson is one of our most acclaimed playwrights. His plays have earned him a
dozen major theatre awards including two Olivier Awards for Best New Comedy, in 1994 for Hysteria, and in 1999 for Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick. As a highly respected director, his recent hits at the Theatre Royal Bath include The Dresser, Mrs Henderson Presents, Hysteria and The Libertine.

Further cast and creative team to be announced.

Listings

Thursday 16 February – Saturday 18 March 2023
Theatre Royal Bath’s Ustinov Studio 
theatreroyal.org.uk

SEPTEMBER 1ST, DEAR DIARY IT’S TIME FOR BIG FUN AT THE OTHER PALACE…HEATHERS THE MUSICAL INVITES ALL CORN NUTS TO A BIG FUN FAN DAY

SEPTEMBER 1ST, DEAR DIARY

IT’S TIME FOR BIG FUN AT THE OTHER PALACE…

INVITES ALL CORN NUTS TO A BIG FUN FAN DAY

The school bell is ringing and the Corn Nuts are being called, not to class, but to a day of Big Fun – and it definitely will be Beautiful! So, grab your diaries and mark the date as The Other Palace has a lot planned on 1 September.

Starting at midday, attendees will have the opportunity to take part in scheduled choreography and vocal workshops on the iconic Westerburg High stage, attend multiple Q&As with cast members and creatives happening at the bar and show off their Heathers knowledge during the Quiz. Rumour has it a lifeboat of new cast members might be sailing nearby that day too…

Throughout the afternoon there will be photo opportunities with current members, giveaways, and the chance to become truly a Heather by making your own scrunchie.

Cosplay is not only welcomed, not only encourage…but essential – we want to see your best blazers on and signature black trench coats.  

During the day we plan to break a World Record, Heathers The Musical style. As “the extreme always seems to make an impression,” why not be a part of Heathers history and make your mark with us?

Heathers Big Fan Day will start at 12pm on Thursday 1 September with the afternoon activities running until 6pm. The event will be free; however, sessions will be ticketed and require booking in advance, this can be done via The Other Palace website.

Amidst the activities throughout the day there will be the evening performance of Heathers The Musical which will be one of the final performances for the current cast members.

With a book, music and lyrics by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’KeefeHeathers the Musical is based on one of the greatest cult teen films of all time, and starred Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. The production is directed by Andy Fickman, withchoreography by Thriller Live’s Gary Lloyd, designs by David Shields, lighting by Ben Cracknell and sound by Dan Samson.  

Westerberg High’s Veronica Sawyer is just another nobody dreaming of a better day. But when she joins the beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams of popularity may finally come true. Mysterious teen rebel JD teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it is murder being a somebody…

LISTINGS

HEATHERS THE MUSICAL – BIG FAN DAY

Venue: The Other Palace

Date: Thursday 1 September

Link to Booking: https://theotherpalace.co.uk/heathers-the-musical-big-fan-day-2/

Full Schedule:
12.00pm: Welcome

The school bell has rung! Meet your fellow classmates and find out all about the day, photos opps, giveaways and more!

12.30pm: Learn Choreography

Honey, what you waiting for? Step into our Candy Store and learn choreography with Jasmine Beel (Heather McNamara), Maddison Firth (Heather Chandler) and Vivian Panka (Heather Duke).

1.15pm Q&A 1: Lisanne Falk (Original Film Heather McNamara) and Paul Taylor-Mills

Hop into our tiniest lifeboat as we set sail on our first Q&A of the day! Join the original Heather McNamara herself from the cult classic movie, Lisanne Falk, along with our faculty’s own Paul Taylor-Mills.

2.00pm: Learn Vocals, Beautiful

You hope, you dream, you pray… and you get your way! That’s right, now you can learn how to sing Beautiful with our vocal workshop.

2.45pm: Q&A 2: Ailsa Davidson (Veronica) and Mhairi Angus (Martha)

BFFs Veronica and Martha invite you and your BFFs to join them! Put your questions to Ailsa and Mhairi in this Q&A.

3.30pm: New Cast Announcement

It’s official: we will be announcing our brand-new classmates on September 1st! And YOU can find out first! Grab your phones – and get ready to record some Heathers history!

4.15pm: Quiz led by Daniel Robinson (Kurt’s Dad) and Oliver Brooks (Ram’s Dad)

It’s quiz time! Get your team together as we test you on all things Heathers, 80s and more! Will you be top of the class? Or will Veronica have to forge your report card?

5.00pm: Q&A 3: The Heathers – Jasmine Beel (Heather McNamara), Maddison Firth (Heather Chandler) and Vivian Panka (Heather Duke)

Have a question for the Heathers? Crave a boon? Now’s your chance to put it to them in our final Q&A of the day!

5.45pm: Cosplay Pics onstage together 

School photos onstage? How very (exciting!) Here’s your chance to have your photo taken on the set, with our big group photo!

6.00pm: End

*Cast and creatives access is subject to availability.

Happening throughout day:

  • Photo opportunities with props
  • Giveaways
  • Cosplay
  • Make your own scrunchies

Bill Kenwright & Paul Taylor-Mills present

HEATHERS THE MUSICAL

Book, Music & Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe & Kevin Murphy

Directed by Andy Fickman

Associate Director and Choreography by Gary Lloyd

Design by David Shields

Lighting by Ben Cracknell

Sound by Dan Samson

Running Until: Until 19 February 2023


Relaxed Performances: Sunday 9 October, 5.30pm
                                        Sunday 5 February, 5.30pm

Sing-Along Performance: Wednesday 18 January, 7.30pm

Running Time: Approx. 2 hours 30 minutes including interval

Website:         www.heathersthemusical.com

theotherpalace.co.uk/heathers-the-musical/

            www.kenwright.com

Address: 12 Palace Street, London, SW1E 5JA

Tickets: From £25

Calling all #CornNuts – Be the first to hear the latest Heathers the Musical gossip and further details on dates, venues and on-sales by following us on the following:

Facebook/Twitter/Instagram:

@HeathersMusical

@TheOtherPalace

@BKL_Productions

ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY ANNOUNCES LONDON DATES FOR SHOWS LETS FALL IN LOVE AND FEVER

ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY ANNOUNCES LONDON DATES FOR FEVER!: THE PEGGY LEE CENTURY AND LET’S FALL IN LOVE

Tony nominee pop, jazz singer, songwriter and actress Ann Hampton Callaway, today announces her return to London on 21 and 22 September with a musical valentine for all seasons in her show, Let’s Fall in Love; a spellbinding and artfully crafted two-act show exploring the many facets of love performed at The Pheasantry Pizza Express.

Callaway has also created an exciting night of songs and stories that she will be debuting in London entitled Fever!: The Peggy Lee Centuryon 25 and 26 September. The show celebrates her inspiration and one of America’s most beloved artists, Peggy Lee, and will be performed at Pizza Express Jazz Soho.

Ann Hampton Callaway said today: “I am thrilled to announce that I will be bringing my brand new show ‘Fever!: The Peggy Lee Century’ to London, along with my show ‘Let’s Fall in Love’. I can’t wait to spend two wonderful nights exploring the many facets of love and another two offering a tribute to Peggy Lee’s artistry.”

Ann Hampton Callaway presents:

LET’S FALL IN LOVE

Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 September at 8pm

The night begins with beloved classics from the 20s to the 40s by Irving Berlin, Porter, Arlen, Gershwin and Kern. Then, in the second half, the celebration builds with gorgeous contemporary love songs by the Bergmans and beyond and her own compositions which have been recorded by Barbra Streisand and many others. Be there when this multi-award-winning artist gives us the perfect date night and a warm, musical hug for these complex times.

Ann Hampton Callaway presents:
FEVER!: THE PEGGY LEE CENTURY

Thursday 25 and Friday 26 September at 8pm


On the heels of Ann’s Streisand Songbook symphonic triumph, this show celebrates the 100th birthday of the trailblazing woman who gave the world Fever, through six decades of iconic songs from sultry to sizzling. Fall under the spell of love songs from Peggy’s swinging Benny Goodman days through decades of hits from film and recordings that earned this iconic singer-songwriter her powerhouse nickname, The female Frank Sinatra. Peggy Lee’s granddaughter Holly Foster Wells will also be Ann’s special guest for a brief Q and A after the show.

Will Friedwaldfrom The New York Timesnotes it was “The Best Peggy Lee tribute I’ve ever seen”

Stephen Mosherfrom Broadway World noted “Ann Hampton Callaway has never sounded better, she’s never looked better, she’s never been better.”

Ann Hampton Callaway is one of America’s most gifted artists in pop and jazz. A leading champion of the great American Songbook, she’s made her mark as a singer, pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger, actress, educator, TV host and producer. Voted by Broadwayworld.com as Performer of the Year and two years in a row as Best Jazz Vocalist, Ann is a born entertainer.  She is best known for Tony-nominated performance in the hit Broadway musical Swing! and for writing and singing the theme song to the hit TV series The Nanny.  She made her feature film debut opposite Angelina Jolie and Matt Damon in the Robert De Niro film The Good Shepherd, performing the standard Come Rain or Come Shine and recorded Isn’t It Romantic? and The Nearness of You for Wayne Wong’s Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah. Ann also wrote songs for the upcoming movie musical The Man Who Saved Paris starring Stanley Tucci and can be heard singing her original song Pourquoi in the soundtrack of Blind starring Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore. Callaway is a Platinum Award winning writer whose songs are featured on seven of Barbra Streisand’s recent CD’s. The only composer to have collaborated with Cole Porter, she has also written songs with Carole King, Rolf Lovland, Amanda McBroom and Shelby Lynn to name a few.  Ann has recorded over 50 CDs as a soloist and guest and her latest CD Jazz Goes to the Movies debuted at #12 on the Billboard Jazz Chart and has been in high rotation on Siriusly Sinatra.  Callaway’s performances and recordings have garnered her The Theatre World Award, 15 MAC Awards, several Bistro AwardsThe Mabel Mercer AwardThe Johnny Mercer Award for Songwriting and The Blanton Peale Award for Positive Thinking. Ann also will be releasing two more albums in 2023.


ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY

LISTINGS

LET’S FALL IN LOVE

The Pheasantry: Pizza Express

Kings Road Chelsea

152/154 King’s Rd, London SW3 4UT

Please find tickets here: www.pizzaexpresslive.com/whats-on/ann-hampton-callaway-lets-fall-in-love

FEVER!: THE PEGGY LEE CENTURY

Dean Street: Pizza Express Jazz Soho

10 Dean St, London W1D 3RW, United Kingdom

Please find tickets here: www.pizzaexpresslive.com/whats-on/ann-hampton-callaway-fever-the-peggy-lee-century

Ways to keep in touch! https://linktr.ee/annhcallaway

Donmar Warehouse: The Band’s Visit casting announcement

CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR

THE EUROPEAN PREMIÈRE OF DAVID YAZBEK AND ITAMAR MOSES’

THE BAND’S VISIT

The Donmar Warehouse today announces the cast for the European première of David Yazbek and Itamar Moses’ multi-Tony award-winning musical The Band’s Visit, directed in a new production by Donmar Warehouse Artistic Director Michael Longhurst. Leading the company are award-winning film, TV and stage actor Alon Moni Aboutboul and seven-time winner of Israeli Female Singer of the Year award, and judge on Kokhav Nolad, the Israeli version of American IdolMiri Mesika. They are joined by cast and onstage band of Sharif Afifi, Jason Alder, Marc Antolin, Harel Glazer, Levi Goldmeier, Ido Gonen, Michal Horowicz, Emma KingstonShira KravitzNitai LeviYali Topol Margalith, Ashley Margolis, Carlos Mendoza de Hevia, Peter Polycarpou, Ant Romero, Idlir Shyti, Maya Kristal Tenenbaum, Sargon Yelda and Baha Yetkin.

The production opens on 6 October 2022, with previews from 24 September, and runs until 3 December.

Michael Longhurst said, “I am so proud we are assembling this astonishing cast, musicians and creative team, to tell this beautiful story and cannot wait for audiences to discover the power of this Tony-winning musical here in London for the first time.”

A DONMAR WAREHOUSE PRODUCTION

THE EUROPEAN PREMIÈRE OF

THE BAND’S VISIT

Music and lyrics by David Yazbek and Book by Itamar Moses

Based on the screenplay by Eran Kolirin

Performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International

Cast and onstage band: Alon Moni Aboutboul, Sharif Afifi, Jason Alder, Marc Antolin, Harel Glazer, Levi Goldmeier, Ido Gonen, Michal Horowicz, Emma Kingston, Shira KravitzNitai Levi, Yali Topol Margalith, Ashley Margolis, Carlos Mendoza de Hevia, Miri Mesika, Peter Polycarpou, Ant Romero, Idlir Shyti, Maya Kristal Tenenbaum, Sargon Yelda, Baha Yetkin.

Director: Michael Longhurst; Musical Supervisor: Nigel Lilley; Designer: Soutra Gilmour; Lighting Designer: Anna Watson; Sound Designer: Paul Groothuis; Choreography, Movement & Intimacy Director: Yarit Dor; Casting Director: Anna Cooper CDG; Musical Director: Tarek Merchant; Associate Director: Orr Benezra-Segal; Assistant Musical Director: Natalie Pound; Resident Assistant Director: Dadiow Lin; Cultural Consultant: Dr Lina Khatib; Arabic Music Consultant: Attab Haddad; Dialect Coach: Caitlin Stegemoller

Joining the creative team in CATALYST roles are Assistant Designer: Lucy Sneddon; Assistant Lighting Designer: Cat Salvini; and Assistant Sound Designer: Daberechi Ukoha-Kalu.

CATALYST supports the development of talent both on and offstage which is underrepresented both at the Donmar and in the wider industry.

24 September – 3 December 2022

“Once, not long ago, a group of musicians came to Israel from Egypt. You probably didn’t hear about it. It wasn’t very important.”

In a quiet desert town way off the beaten path, a band of musicians arrive lost. As they wait for the next bus out, these unexpected visitors bring the town to life in surprising ways, proving that even the briefest visit can stay with you forever.

Winner of 10 Tony Awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album, The Band’s Visit rejoices in the way music makes us laugh, makes us cry, and ultimately, brings us together.

Artistic Director Michael Longhurst directs the European premiere of The Band’s Visit in a brand-new production, his next musical following his Tony-nominated revival of Caroline, or Change.

Alon Moni Aboutboul plays Tewfiq. He recently completed 5 successful seasons of John Singleton’s hit series Snowfall for FX, where he portrayed the fan favourite Avi Drexler.  In 1989 he won the Israeli Film Academy’s Best Actor Award for his performance in Uri Barbash’s Ehad Mishelanu. He has since been nominated for Best Supporting Actor three times, again winning the award in 2003 for his performance in Savi Gabizon’s Nina’s Tragedies. Aboutboul played a pivotal role in Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and has appeared in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises, Steven Spielberg’s Munich, Peter MacDonald’s Rambo III and Eytan Rockaway’s Lansky opposite Harvey Keitel, Sam Worthington and AnnaSophia Robb. He starred in London Has Fallen opposite Gerard Butler, Hand of God, which earned him another award from the Jerusalem Film Festival and A Place in Heaven, written and directed by Yossi Madmoni, which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival and won him Best Actor at the International Film Festival of India in Goa. In 2018, he appeared in Beirut, directed by Brad Anderson. In the United States, Aboutboul has guest-starred on the television series Twin Peaks (The Return)FBI: International, HomelandThe LeftoversLow Winter SunFringeCastleBurn NoticeLaw & Order: Special Victims UnitNCIS: Los Angeles and The Blacklist. Some of Aboutboul’s best work has been on the stage in Israel’s most prestigious theatres.  Just to name a few, he starred in theatre productions of Hamlet, King Lear, Caviar and Lentils, Sonia Mushkat, Blood Brothers, Closer, and Redemption. At the Haifa Theater, he starred in Andora, Yair, and a one man show called The Baby of Ben Shatrit. He’s also performed at the Beer Sheva Theater, starring in The Jewish Zis and The Western Wharf. Alon is also an accomplished painter who has solo exhibits in Los Angeles and abroad, and will soon be releasing his first music album Family Business.

Sharif Afifi plays Haled. His theatre credits include My Fair Lady (London Coliseum), The Magician’s Elephant (RSC), You Bury Me (Paines Plough), On Your Feet! (UK tour), We Live in Cairo (American Repertory Theatre), Hadestown (National Theatre), The Toyboy Diaries (Hope Mill Theatre), Wonderland (UK tour) and Rent (Greenwich Theatre); and, for film, Mamma Mia!… Here We Go Again!.

Dr Jason Alder is a musician who enjoys an international musical career as a clarinet and saxophone performer, educator, academic researcher, and recording engineer. His projects include contemporary classical, orchestral, jazz, pop/rock, and world music and has performed in venues such as the Berliner Philharmonie, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Stadsshouwburg Antwerpen, and Cadogan Hall. Jason has been active in musical theatre and opera for over 25 years performing on woodwinds, guitar, and bass guitar. Recent productions have included Ba-ta-clan (West Green House Opera), The WizHairsprayGypsyDrowsy Chaperone, and Reefer Madness (Bridewell). He has been involved in the creation and (sometimes onstage) performance of original music for new shows, such as Guys on Ice (Jeff Daniels’ Purple Rose Theater), StormMoeder Blues, and Pillowman (ITs Theater Festival Amsterdam). Jason is a member of Payazen! Klezmer Band, JORO Afrobeat, Droste Effect (Balkan jazz), and performed with Grammy, Tony, and Emmy winners Idina Menzel and Rob Mounsey on the Idina Menzel World Tour. As a recording artist, Jason has been heard on BBC Radio 3 and on stations in the US, Austria, Spain, Netherlands, France, and Greece. He was recently a featured soloist on the soundtrack for the Paramount film Spell, BBC drama Ridley Road, ITV documentary The Thief, His Wife, and the Canoe, the animation Beren op de Weg which played at many film and animation festivals worldwide, released a solo album, Milieu Interieur, in summer 2022, and appears on numerous others. Originally hailing from the metro-Detroit area, Jason has lived in Europe since 2006. He received his musical training in the US, Netherlands, and earned his PhD from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Marc Antolin plays Itzik. His theatre credits include Murder on the Orient Express, Amadeus, Singin’ in the Rain, The Music Man (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Magician’s Elephant (RSC), Camelot (The Watermill Theatre), Romantics Anonymous (Shakespeare’s Globe/Bristol Old Vic/US tour), Cry Havoc (Park Theatre), Hedda Gabler (Sherman Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors, Into the Woods, Hello, Dolly! (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (Shakespeare’s Globe/ Edinburgh Festival Fringe/UK & US tour), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe), Peter Pan (National Theatre), Taken at Midnight (Theatre Royal Haymarket/Chichester Minerva Theatre), The Trial (Young Vic), From Here to Eternity (Shaftesbury Theatre), Matilda (RSC/Cambridge Theatre)and Imagine This (New London Theatre). For television, his work includes The Outlaws, Keeping Faith, Caerdydd and More Than Love; and, for film, London Road, Hunky Dory, Love Actually and Coconut Shy.

Harel Glazer makes his professional UK debut in the role of Papi. His other theatre credits include The Wizard of Oz (Hashana Theatre), A Song for Shira (HaKibutz Theatre). He has performed in concerts including Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends – A Celebration (Sondheim Theatre) and Maria Friedman & Friends – Legacy (Menier Chocolate Factory).

Levi Goldmeier plays Zelger (and Understudy Haled). His theatre credits include Fatherland, Macbeth, Pentecost (Lawrence Hall Theatre) and Oliver! (Hyde Park St.Johns). For television, his credits include Wool.

Ido Gonen plays Sammy. His theatre credits include Everything Between Us (Marylebone Theatre), Cloud Nine, The Heiress (John Thaw Studio), On Your Walls (Sky Blue Theatre), 74 Georgia Avenue (New End Theatre), Naughty – Modern Romance and $ellebrity, Toyboy and Living With… (Blue Elephant Theatre), Spare (New Diorama Theatre), Crazy For You, Me and My Girl (London Palladium), Jew You Love Me? (HaSimta Theatre and The Lion and Unicorn Theatre), Actually, I-do (The Pheasantry), Got a Problem? (The Battersea Bridge), On Your Walls (The Lost Theatre), Head (Kenneth More Theatre), Loving Art! (Landor Theatre), Yiff! (King’s Head Theatre), The Producers (Cameri Theatre), Cabaret and Blood Brothers (Ramat Gan Theatre).For television, his credits include Autopsy: The Last Hours Of;and, for film, Aryan Papers.

Michal Horowicz plays Iris. Her theatre credits include Amsterdam (Orange Tree Theatre), Bylines (Theatre503), The Famous Five (Gobbledigook Theatre), Resources of Quinola (Cockpit Theatre), Thea Saves Her Parents (Hounslow Arts Centre), Mimi and the Mountain Dragon (Skewbald Theatre) and Gretel and Hansel (UK tour). For television, her credits include The Rabbi’s Son and Tikva.

Emma Kingston plays Sammy’s Wife (and Dina at certain performances). Her theatre credits include Carousel (Kilworth House), Heathers (The Other Palace), The Last 5 Years (Minack Theatre), Zorro (Hope Mill Theatre), Evita (International tour), Fiddler on the Roof (Chichester Festival Theatre), In The Heights (King’s Cross Theatre/Southwark Playhouse), Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre), Priscilla Queen Of The Desert and Grease (UK tour). For television, her credits include The Sound of Musicals; and, for film, Been So Long and BKLYN. She has performed in concerts including Children of Eden (Cadogan Hall), A Little Night Music (Opera Holland Park), The New Year’s Musical Concert (Tokyu Theatre Orb), West Side Story (BBC Proms), Honeymoon in Vegas (London Palladium), Something Wonderful (Royal Festival Hall) and Kings of Broadway (Palace Theatre).

Shira Kravitz makes her professional debut as Understudy Iris / Anna / Julia / Sammy’s Wife.

Nitai Levi is Understudy Itzik / Papi / Telephone Guy / Sammy. For theatre his credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Spring Awakening (Edinburgh Festival Fringe). For television, his credits include Masters of the Air. He has performed in concerts including Romeo and Juliet/West Side Story (BBC Concert Orchestra/Barbican Centre), The Pillowman, The Glass MenagerieThe Wild Party, The Sweet Smell of Success and Letters Home (The Royal Academy of Music).

Yali Topol Margalith makes her professional stage debut playing Anna.

Ashley Margolis plays Telephone Guy. His theatre credits include Bad Jews (Arts Theatre), Oh! What a Lovely War (Lyric Hammersmith Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Georgian Theatre Royal) and Beauty and the Beast (UK tour). For television, his credits include The VAR Room, Doctors, Casualty, So Awkward, Holby City, Anne Frank: A Life in Hiding, The City and the City, Comedy Playhouse: Broken Biscuits, Father Brown, Some Girls, Living the Dream and Hollyoaks; and, for film, A Christmas Number One.

Carlos Mendoza de Hevia plays Camal. His theatre credits include Let Me Play the Lion Too (Barbican Centre), Siyanda Protector of Plants (Kew Gardens), The Party’s OverThe Band at the End of the World (UK tours), El Guru (La Rosa Theatre), La Sibylle (Dans La Poche) and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Royal Opera House). For television, his credits include Killing Eve.

Miri Mesika plays Dina. She is a multi-award-winning Israeli singer and actress, selling over 200,000 albums internationally. She was raised in Herzliya, where she learned music (guitar and flute) in the local conservatoire. She studied at the Yovel High School under Sofi Moskovich, then at the Rimon School of Music. She made her professional debut as a lead singer in a production marking the 50-year anniversary of Israel, directed by Tsedi Tsarfati, and music managed by Roni Vise, which she has performed all over Europe. She then sang in different musical groups at Rimon, where she met Uri Zach, who later produced her first album in collaboration with Shmulik Noifeld, one of her teachers. In 2000, Miri won the competition Shir Rimon, performing David Daor’s “Ima Shel Guy”. The next year she created her first independent show featuring the songs of Karen Peles, following which she was offered a recording contract with Anana in collaboration with the recording company Head Artsi. Miri launched her first album in 2005, featuring hit singles including “Le Sham”, which also won the Galgalatz Radio’s Song of the Year. It went Platinum, selling over 70,000 copies. Miri was also awarded Singer of the Year and Discovery of the Year. Her tour of the album which had started in small clubs moved quickly into large concert halls. In February 2006, she was awarded Singer of the Year by the Israeli Music Channel 24. Since 2005, Miri has released seven successful albums and won every possible title. In 2015 she won The Times of Israel Award for The Artist of the Year. Theatre includes: Shlomo Ha Melech Ve Shelmay Ha Sandlar (winner of Musical of the Year), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Les Misérables, and Od Hozer Hanigun (Habima). Her television credits include Ze Lo HaGil, The Psychologist, Me’orav Yerushalmi and Keshet; and she has been a judge on A Star is Born (the Israeli version of American Idol), Aviv or Eyal (the Israeli version of The Voice), The X Factor IsraelThe School of Music and The Masked Singer; and, for film, Three Mothers and Restless.

Peter Polycarpou returns to the Donmar to play Avrum – he previously appeared in City of Angels. His other theatre credits include Indecent (Menier Chocolate Factory), A Very Expensive Poison (The Old Vic), MoonlightOslo (Harold Pinter Theatre), Ross (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Choir (Glasgow Citizens Theatre), The Magistrate (National Theatre), Artefacts (Nabokov – Bush Theatre), Last Easter (Birmingham Rep), Silver Birch House (Arcola Theatre), All the Ordinary Angels (Royal Exchange, Manchester), Anna in the Tropics; Follow My Leader (Hampstead Theatre), The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Bridewell Theatre), Angels in America (Manchester Library Theatre), Titus Andronicus (RSC), Man of La Mancha (English National Opera), Working (Southwark Playhouse), Mrs Henderson Presents (Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto), Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh, Dubai), Follies (Royal Albert Hall), Oliver! (Curve, Leicester), The Pajama Game, Guys and Dolls, Sweeney Todd, Love Story (Chichester Festival Theatre), Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert, Miss Saigon (Cameron Macintosh), A Christmas Carol (Birmingham Rep), Imagine this (ICW Productions Ltd – New London Theatre), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (The London Palladium), Cats, Phantom of the Opera (Really Useful Group), The Secret Garden, Les Misérables (RSC) and Oklahoma! (National Theatre). For television his credits include Unforgotten, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries, Tyrant, Defending the Guilty, Family Tree, Threesome, Hustle, Last Days of Lehman Brothers, Holby City, Empathy, Eastenders, The Bill, Waking the Dead and Sunburn; and, for film, Blue Iguana, Cleanskin, I Could Never Be Your Woman, O Jerusalem, De-lovely, Julie and the Cadillacs, Oklahoma!, Bloodlines: Legacy of a Lord and Evita.

Antonio Romero is a musician who was born in Jerez, Spain, and now lives in London. He was co-founder and drummer of the band El Hombre Burbuja which became known as one of the most influential groups to appear on the Spanish pop-rock scene at the end of the 90s. EHB recorded 4 LPs as well as collaborating on various movie soundtracks and frequently appearing at festivals and major venues throughout Spain. With the separation of EHB, Antonio moved completely away from the world of pop and fully dedicated himself to studying oriental percussion. Feeling passionate about this new field, he moved temporarily to Istanbul where he created a bond with Turkey and its music that has lasted until today. Antonio completed his professional studies in percussion at the Royal Conservatory Manuel de Falla. More recently Antonio has played and collaborated with such diverse groups and singers as Laura Marling and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Brian Finnegan, Boris Grebenshchikov, El Barrio, Hamza Namira, Matoula Zamani, Sarah Jane Morris, Antonio Forcione, Benjamin Ezcoriza (Radio Tarifa), India Martinez, Faia Younan, Lanja Ali, Cigdem Aslan, Attab Haddad, Los Delinquentes, La Banda Morisca, Agustin Carbonell “El Bola”, Ramón Ruiz, Eduardo Niebla, Pepe Justicia, and Julio de la Rosa amongst many others.

Idlir Shyti is an Albanian cellist based in London. He has been awarded the ‘Diplôme Supérieur de Concertiste’ under the tutelage of Anssi Karttunen at the École Normale de Musique de Paris. Previously he studied with Richard Lester at the Royal College of Music London and at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia Rome with Maurizio Gambini. He has played for many renowned musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, Gary Hoffman and Johannes Goritzki. As a soloist he has performed with Sudwestdeutche Kammerorchester Pforzheim, Southbank Sinfonia, Orkestra Filharmonike e Tiranes amongst others. An ardent chamber musician, he has been invited to play at Rome Chamber Music Festival, Leamington Festival, Anghiari Festival, Different Trains Festival, Southwark International Music Festival, and alongside artists like the Allegri Quartet and Alberto Portugheis. His passion for contemporary music has led him to premiere chamber music works at Cheltenham Festival, Festival of Contemporary Music for All as part of Chineke and IXION ensembles. He has worked with composers such as Joseph Sonnabend, Michael Finnissy, Morgan Hayes, Xia-Leon Sloane. London premieres include The Key, an opera by Francesca Le Lohe for three trio ensembles and Kenneth Hesketh`s Ein Lichtspiel. Idlir is also an enthusiastic orchestra musician and has collaborated with Philharmonia Orchestra, English National Opera, BBC NOW, BBC CO, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Southbank Sinfonia, Welsh National Opera.

Maya Kristal Tenenbaum plays Julia. Her theatre credits include In The Heights (Starcatcher) and Avenue Q (Cinema City).

Sargon Yelda plays Simon. His theatre credits include Hex, Antony and CleopatraLight Shining in Buckinghamshire, Dara, Emperor & Galilean, Mother Courage and Her Children (National Theatre), Stovepipe (National Theatre & Bush Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Globe), Fanny and Alexander, King Lear (The Old Vic), The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, The Tempest (RSC), Human AnimalsTeh Internet is a Serious Business (Royal Court Theatre), Incognito, Forget Me Not (Bush Theatre), Moby Dick and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (Arcola Theatre). For television, his credits include TreasonDead PixelsEndeavourPeople Just Do NothingStrike: The Silkworm, The Cuckoo’s Calling, Innocent, Zen, Midnight Man, Saddam’s Tribe and Compulsion; and, forfilm, Spectre and Close.

Baha Yetkin (musician) is a Turkish oud artist and composer. He grew up in Istanbul, the meeting point of two continents, and the prolific melting pot of European and Middle Eastern musical cultures. So, not very surprisingly, he was able to shape a very unique artistic style which embraced both Istanbul music and Middle Eastern music; which in return, paved the way for fruitful collaborations with Turkish and European masters of music like Mustafa Keser, Zeki Cetin, İnci Çayırlı, Melihat Gülses, Petros Klampanis, Michalis Kouloumis. Yetkin also garnered attention as the first ever Turkish oud artist to be invited to play flamenco in Spain, and to give a solo recital at Royal Albert Hall. Furthermore, these milestone events were preceded and followed by performances at prominent concert venues in Turkey and Europe such as Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall (Turkey), Zorlu Performing Arts Center (Turkey), Angora Theatre (Spain), Union Halle (Germany), and in the UK at the Royal Alert Hall, Asia House, the RAS, the RSC, Vortex, and Green Note, to name a few. He also performed in festivals like Alamar World Music Fest in Almeria, Yeldeğirmeni Spring Jazz Festival in Istanbul and Rebetiko Carnival in London. He has also done some Oud and Makam Music workshops in Istanbul, London, Cambridge and Madrid. His latest workshop was at Cambridge University in 2022. He makes videos to explain Ottoman music makams on his Youtube channel and his Superpeer channel. His first single Emperian and first album The Pearl was released in 2019, his second and third singles Shine Again and Tears of the Pearl were released in 2020 his latest album The Turkish Oud was released in 2021. They are on all digital platforms. He continues performing and teaching in the UK and on online platforms.

Itamar Moses’ work includes Outrage, Bach At Leipzig, Celebrity Row, The Four of Us, Yellowjackets, Back Back Back, Completeness, and The Whistleblower, the musicals Nobody Loves You (with Gaby Alter), Fortress of Solitude (with Michael Friedman), and the evening of short plays Love/Stories (Or But You Will Get Used To It).

David Yazbek is a Tony Award winning writer, musician, composer and lyricist.Broadway credits include Tootsie, Fish in the Dark, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Bombay Dreams and The Full Monty.

Michael Longhurst is Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse. For the company, direction includes Force MajeureMidnight Your Time (lockdown film), Teenage Dick, Europe, Belleville and last summer’s multicast revival of Nick Payne’s Constellations, whichbroke box office records at the Vaudeville and won the Olivier Award for Best Revival. Constellations previously ran on Broadway (Samuel J Friedman Theater, for MTC), West End (Duke of York’s, Evening Standard Award Best Play), UK tour, originating at the Royal Court. His Chichester Festival Theatre production of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline, or Change transferred to Studio 54 for Roundabout Theater on Broadway with Sharon D Clarke reprising her Olivier Award-winning performance (also West End and Hampstead). The Broadway production received three Tony nominations including Best Musical Revival.  Other theatre includes Amadeus with the Southbank Sinfonia (National Theatre/NTatHome), The Son (Kiln Theatre/Duke of York’s Theatre), Gloria (Hampstead Theatre), Bad Jews (Theatre Royal Haymarket/Theatre Royal Bath/UK tour & current revival at the Arts), They Drink It In The Congo and Carmen Disruption (Almeida Theatre), ‘Tis Pity She’s A WhoreThe Winter’s Tale (Shakespeare’s Globe), If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet (Off-Broadway for Roundabout), LindaThe Art of DyingRemembrance Day (Royal Court Theatre), A Number (Nuffield Southampton Theatres/Young Vic), Cannibals (Royal Exchange Theatre), The History Boys (Sheffield Theatres), Dealer’s Choice (Royal & Derngate), The World of Extreme Happiness (NT Shed), Stovepipe (site-specific promenade with the National Theatre, HighTide and Bush Theatre), Midnight Your Time (HighTide), On The Beach (Bush Theatre), On The RecordGaudeamus (Arcola Theatre), dirty butterfly (Young Vic – winner of the Jerwood Directors Award) and Guardians (Pleasance/Theatre503 – Fringe First Award).

THE BAND’S VISIT

LISTINGS
Donmar Warehouse
41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, London WC2H 9LX

Box Office: www.donmarwarehouse.com / 020 3282 3808       

PERFORMANCE TIMES

Evenings Mon – Sat: 7.30pm

Matinees Thu & Sat: 2.30pm

TICKET PRICES

£60 (£55) / £45 (£41) / £23 (£21)

£10 standing tickets

Preview discounts apply to the first 4 performances only

YOUNG+FREE

YOUNG+FREE tickets for 16-25 year olds released by ballot. Sign up at www.donmarwarehouse.com.

Generously supported by IHS Markit.

DONMAR DAILY

New tickets on sale every day at the Donmar. Allocations of tickets will be made available every day for performances 7 days later. Tickets will be available across the auditorium at every price band.

ACCESS

The Donmar Warehouse is fully wheelchair accessible. Guide dogs and hearing dogs are welcome in the auditorium. There is a Loop system and a Radio Frequency system fitted in the main auditorium and there are also hearing loops at all the front of house counters.

ASSISTED PERFORMANCES

If you require a companion to attend the Donmar, their ticket will be free. To book call 020 3282 3808 or email [email protected]

For all other access enquiries or bookings call 020 3282 3808.

THE BAND’S VISIT

24 September – 3 December 2022

Captioned: Monday 28 November 7.30pm

Audio-Described: Saturday 26 November 2.30pm

British Sign Language Interpreted: Saturday 19 November 2.30pm

This production is generously supported by Charles Holloway, Season Supporter.

Additionally, we are very grateful to the following production supporters:  Jane & Simon Davis, Victoria & Fergal O’Driscoll, Clive & Sally Sherling and an anonymous donor.

FOLLOWING A RECORD-BREAKING SELL-OUT RUN AT THE ALMEIDA THEATRE SONIA FRIEDMAN PRODUCTIONS WILL TRANSFER PETER MORGAN’S NEW PLAY PATRIOTS TO THE NOËL COWARD THEATRE FOR A LIMITED TWELVE WEEK SEASON FROM 26 MAY TO 19 AUGUST 2023 STARRING TOM HOLLANDER

FOLLOWING A RECORD-BREAKING SELL-OUT RUN

AT THE ALMEIDA THEATRE

SONIA FRIEDMAN PRODUCTIONS WILL TRANSFER

PETER MORGAN’S NEW PLAY

PATRIOTS

TO THE NOËL COWARD THEATRE

FOR A LIMITED TWELVE WEEK SEASON

FROM 26 MAY TO 19 AUGUST 2023

STARRING TOM HOLLANDER 

WITH 

WILL KEEN 

AND A CAST INCLUDING LUKE THALLON

REPRISING THEIR CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED ROLES

ON SALE FROM WEDNESDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 2022

SIGN UP FOR PRIORITY BOOKING: WWW.PATRIOTSTHEPLAY.COM


It had me on the edge of my seat, and a West End transfer is a must’

Mail on Sunday

‘This is a cracking, exciting piece of theatre that’s become, sadly, very timely’

Evening Standard

Peter Morgan’s absorbing, acerbic new play’

Variety

Patriots is international award-winning writer Peter Morgan’s (Frost/Nixon) first new play since The Audience. He is best known for writing the multi award-winning Netflix hit, The Crown.

Patriots is the Almeida’s fastest selling new play and transfers to the Noël Coward Theatre for a limited twelve-week run from 26 May to 19 August 2023, with Opening Night on 6 June 2023. Directed by the Almeida’s Artistic Director, Rupert Goold (Ink, Enron), Patriots is a brilliant and startlingly timely story of ambition, loyalty and betrayal in a brave new world.

BAFTA-winning actor Tom Hollander (The Night Manager; Travesties) reprises his starring role as Boris Berezovsky, the ‘kingmaker’ behind Vladimir Putin, with Will Keen (His Dark Materials) also returning to play Putin and Luke Thallon (Albion) as Abramovich. Further casting will be announced in due course.

“If the politicians cannot save Russia, then we businessmen must. We have not just the responsibility but the duty to become Russian heroes”

1991. The Fall of the Soviet Union.

With the dawning of a new Russia, there are winners and losers, and today’s patriot can fast become tomorrow’s traitor.

As a new generation of oligarchs fights to seize control, PATRIOTS follows billionaire businessman Boris Berezovsky from the president’s inner circle

to public enemy number one.

The full creative team for Patriots is Director: Rupert Goold, Set Designer: Miriam Buether, Co-Costume Designers: Deborah Andrews and Miriam Buether,Lighting Designer: Jack Knowles, Movement Director Polly Bennett, Sound Designer and Composer: Adam Cork, and Casting Director: Robert Sterne.

The Last Inklings and Lukas Drinkwater Review

Yvonne Arnaud – 20th August 2022

Reviewed by Heather Chalkley

5*****

A sublime evening of mellow music began with Lukas Drinkwater. His nimble fingers dance across the guitar strings, accompanied by melancholic folk tunes that carry you gently along, until you listen to the lyrics! Often accompanied by a fellow musician this is a rare occasion to see him flying solo. Drinkwater is an accomplished musician and sound technician – this was evident from the set up for the evening that he managed personally. He laid a great foundation to introduce The Last Inklings.

This award winning duo, Leonardo MacKenzie and David Hoyland, have taken the band name from a distinguished writing group, founded by members like C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Pioneer, ground breaking authors of their time. An apt reflection of The Last Inklings music. MacKenzie’s classical training shines through his crystal clear tones and cello playing with purity and honesty. Hoyland’s grass roots musical education is a great compliment to layer the sound and deliver exquisite harmonies. The lyrical content is both traditional and contemporary, using a folklore style to touch on modern life. I particularly enjoyed Alchemy, from their EP of the same name. The theme is based on a quotation from philosopher Marcus Aurelius – ‘the soul is dyed by the colour of its thoughts’. In simple words, always look for the positives in life.

The Last Inklings musical talent is a treat for the ears and the eyes. The musical synergy is palpable. You are enveloped in a magical musical bubble and carried away to a place where time doesn’t exist. You could listen to them all night.

Counting and Cracking Review

The Birmingham Rep –until Saturday 27th August 2022

Reviewed by Amarjeet Singh

5*****

Counting and Cracking is a joyful and heart-breaking tale of love, political conflict, patriotism, belonging, displacement, movement and being stuck. A profoundly emotive narrative of parents and children, culture and belonging, loss and being reunited, it’s an endearing and ground-breaking performance that will capture hearts and minds. A play for the people about people.

The epic story follows the journey of one Sri Lankan-Australian family over four generations, from 1956 to 2004, opening with Radha and her son Siddhartha who are shifting into a new phase of their lives. Radha arrived in Sydney 21 years ago while pregnant with her son, Siddhartha. Going by the name of ‘Sid’ and fully embracing the Aussie way of life, Siddhartha doesn’t know much about his families past, and he has his mind firmly fixed on the future. Struggling for independence, having moved out of his mother’s home in Pendle Hill, studying media studies and falling in love with a Yolgnu woman, his relationship with his mother and his rich heritage is growing weaker by the day.

Meanwhile Radha, feisty and fiery, widowed before leaving for Australia, is considering going on a date with a chatty workman employed by her son to fit an air-conditioning unit for her. A vulnerable and daring move, its Radha’s way of looking to put the mystery of the past behind her and embrace the life she must live now. Radha still holds on to remnants of the past, she keeps her grandfather’s ashes under her bed and has done so for 21 years. She can’t quite bring herself to let go of him and the past, but now, she thinks, this might be the time.

But just as both Radha and Siddhartha feel they can move on, their entire world is turned upside down. Radha receives a phone call from Sri Lanka, that in an instant, changes the trajectory of their lives. We move through time and space, going back to Radha’s life as a young woman in Colombo and follow her journey, and Siddhartha’s to Australia. As we witness the events of the past colliding with the present, and the riots of Black July – the start of the Sri Lankan Civil War between the Tamil militants and the government of Sri Lanka, we are left reckoning with how much we are all shaped by the family who came before us, those who govern us and the people around us and how these influence the choices we make.

Counting and Cracking showcases the talents of 19 performers, three of whom are musicians who sit and perform on stage alongside the actors. The performers hail from six different countries, the majority play multiple roles and the show is performed in English, Tamil and Sinhalese, with live translation into English. The cast as a whole were incredible but there were stand out performances by Rodney Afif, Prakash Balwadi, Shiv Palekar, Sukhbir Singh Walia, Kaivalya Suvarna, Nadie Kammallaweera, Abbie-Lee Lewis, Vaishnavi Suryaprakash and Sukania Venugopal.

Counting and Cracking has a duration of 3 and a half hours. The co-writer and directors, Shakthidharan and Flack, have divided these momentous moments into three strongly defined acts with two intervals. Each act encompasses a particular part of the action and has its own cliff hanger, which adds to the steadily mounting tension of the final act. The final act is a masterpiece of emotional manoeuvring, to enable the audience insight into the beginnings of the war itself and how it affected those involved. It is driven with breath-taking and powerful momentum, and as it unfolds you are left in no doubt that this is a crucial work for our times. Counting and Cracking theatrically demonstrates how easily musings of differences, feelings of injustice and interfering leaders can rip a society apart. It depicts how the voices of those who desperately want to hold society together can forcefully and effectively be silenced, and how individual lives are defined forever as a result.

There are those who question the length of the play but having just seen an astounding production of Richard III with a 2-hour first act, it proves it’s hard to condense epic tales in a one size fits all box, and the 2 intervals offer ample comfort and refreshment breaks and time to take in what you have just experienced.

Counting and Cracking is a play full of quick witted and sophisticated humour, both physical and verbal. Amidst all the emotional trials and tribulations, its genuinely funny and the audience were laughing out loud throughout the performance, at the appropriate times. This gave a wonderful facet to the story and the characters. The narrative structure is tight and artful, almost every single line feels thoroughly thought out, and never ignores the so-human reality of happiness, heartache, and other emotions occurring simultaneously.

The staging is extraordinary, simplistic but effective. The clever sky signs that are never intrusive or distracting but let us know clearly what the dates and locations are for the current scene, were so helpful as we wove in and out of the timeline, however, as I became more engaged with the play and the players, I found myself using them less and less as I knew exactly where I was in the narrative. Moments linger for just the right amount of time before moving to the next, these never felt clunky. The whole of the stage and auditorium was utilised for dramatic effect. The players were like dancers, and the play never felt stuffy or stilted. Although the productions storyline was sometimes heavy, these occasions were peppered with theatrical moments of pure joy, the slip-and-slide, the sea-saw, the intercom, the drill and its dust for example, are carried out by cast members and rudimentary props, a creative delight.

Counting and Cracking is not just a play, it’s an immersive experience which welcomes you into its multicultural and multilingual world. You are warmed from the taste of Sri Lanka, during the interval, with bowls of lentil curry, roti and rice, which is included as part of the evening and the price of your ticket. You are wowed with an abundance of colour, continual humour and charm, characters that leap off the stage (literally), fully realised and completely endearing. You are enlightened at the plight of the Sri-Lankan struggles and identify with individuals’ personal grapples with change. Counting and Cracking is a beautiful story of love, vulnerability, strength, power and identity.

Shakthidharan has woven a brilliant and beautiful tapestry of people, places, and timelines within a tale that has strong political points that it succeeds in making, whilst always maintaining believable characterisation and credible storytelling. He has ultimately created an overall amazing piece of theatre which I would urge you all to experience for yourselves