Sonia Friedman Productions is today celebrating as the full Olivier Awards Nominations list includes a record-breaking 31 potential winners for productions that the company is behind.

Sonia Friedman said:

“I am bowled-over that our work has been recognised with 31 Olivier Award nominations and would like to congratulate everyone SFP has worked with across the year including all of the wonderfully talented writers, actresses, actors, directors, composers, musicians, designers, co-producers and investors as well as my extraordinary and dedicated team at SFP ALL of whom have been integral in making this 2016/2017 season another year of remarkable and record-breaking theatre.”

Full list of SFP nominees:

Virgin Atlantic Best New Play
Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre

Mastercard Best New Musical
Dreamgirls at Savoy Theatre

Magic Radio Best Musical Revival
Funny Girl at Savoy Theatre

Best Revival
The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre
Travesties at Apollo Theatre

Best New Comedy
Nice Fish at Harold Pinter Theatre

Best Actor
Tom Hollander for Travesties at Apollo Theatre
Jamie Parker for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre

Best Actress
Cherry Jones for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre

Best Actress in a Musical
Amber Riley for Dreamgirls at Savoy Theatre
Sheridan Smith for Funny Girl at Savoy Theatre

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Anthony Boyle for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre
Freddie Fox for Travesties at Apollo Theatre
Brian J. Smith for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Noma Dumezweni for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre
Clare Foster for Travesties at Apollo Theatre
Kate O’Flynn for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical
Adam J Bernard for Dreamgirls at Savoy Theatre

Best Director
John Tiffany for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre
John Tiffany for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre

Best Theatre Choreographer
Steven Hoggett for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre

Outstanding Achievement in Music
Dreamgirls – Music by Henry Krieger at Savoy Theatre
Harry Potter And The Cursed Child – Composer and Arranger: Imogen Heap at Palace Theatre

White Light Award for Best Lighting Design
Neil Austin for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre
Natasha Katz for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre

Best Sound Design
Adam Cork for Travesties at Apollo Theatre
Gareth Fry for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre

Best Costume Design
Gregg Barnes for Dreamgirls at Savoy Theatre
Katrina Lindsay for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre

Blue-i Theatre Technology Award for Best Set Design
Bob Crowley for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre
Christine Jones for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre

As Sonia Friedman Productions prepares to transfer Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour to the West End, they would also like to congratulate all those involved in the production at National Theatre – Dorfman, including originating producers the National Theatre of Scotland and Live Theatre, on their nominations for Best New Comedy and Best Supporting Actress.

Handbagged Review

Jack Studio Theatre 28 February – 11 March.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

First Knight Theatre’s production of Moira Buffini’s Handbagged is delightful. It’s like a barmy history lesson from two dotty old pre-National Curriculum teachers – educating you on THEIR favourite events, and brushing everything else under the carpet.

Queen Elizabeth’s weekly meetings with Mrs Thatcher between 1979 and 1990 are impishly reimagined by Buffini, with the Queen and Mrs T being watched and interrupted by older versions of themselves looking back at their strained relationship.

It is knowingly theatrical, with jokes about everything staying within these three walls, and the male actors explaining who they are playing, arguing over who gets to play the less obnoxious characters, explaining events “for the younger members of the audience” and berating Mrs T and the Queen for omitting important events. The Queen’s desire for an interval is a running joke throughout the first act, as is the confusion of the elder Mrs T about the actor playing Denis.

The laughs come thick and fast, but there are some sobering moments. The play gallops through defining moments in Thatcher’s premiership, the troubles, the Falklands, the miners’ strike, the poll tax riots, her stance on Rhodesia and South African apartheid, and reminds the audience of her ability to polarise opinion and society. The Queen, on the other hand, prefers to remember royal weddings, the royal yacht and trips around the Commonwealth. Their views on their roles in key diplomatic incidents are poles apart, and the disdain they feel for each other beneath their brittle courtesy is beautifully portrayed. Buffini doesn’t force her own opinions on the audience, each woman is convinced that she is correct, and the male actors are admonished for stating their “own” political views about events.

Sue Higginson as the elder Mrs T is both imperious and fragile, giving hints of her dementia; while Sarah Tortell is near perfection as a wonderful caricature of her younger self, switching from smooth lecturing and patronising tones into a hectoring harridan brilliantly. Fiona McGahren does well as the Queen, but is unlucky enough to have the fantastic Pauline Armour standing next to her as the older version – stealing the show with every gesture and well-timed line in an outstanding performance. Howie Ripley and Mark Steere take on the male roles with aplomb, their “Kinnock-off” is a standout moment, and the sight of Ripley, dressed as Nancy Reagan, reluctantly performing a speech by Enoch Powell is not to be missed.

Handbagged is a wonderful play, beautifully performed and full of laugh out loud moments. A fantastic night out.

Swifties Review

Theatre N16 28 February – 11 March.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Tom Stenton’s millennial take on Jean Genet’s The Maids has a lot going for it, especially the committed performances by the cast, but the play left me feeling as if I had just listened to one of Taylor Swift’s songs – too much repetition and a wish that it had been better edited.

Yasmin and Nina have won a competition to meet their idol, Taylor Swift, and the action takes place in their hotel room as they wait for the call from her people to go up and meet her. The girls’ lives in Luton, working in an Amazon fulfilment centre, and sharing a grubby bedsit, are worlds apart from the celebrity lifestyle they crave, so they have developed “the game”. Fuelled by their obsession and social media, the girls have whole situations scripted, taking turns to be Taylor, and her most vital squad member, Nina. The sado-masochism and sexual tension from Genet’s play are diluted here; some of the rituals don’t really add anything to the play, and could have been cut. The blurring of the game with reality, and the girls’ conviction that they have the perfect plan to become Taylor’s only friends is fascinating, and their plotting to sell fake allegations against Calvin Harris is frighteningly believable.

Yasmin’s love-hate obsession with Swift becomes more clear cut as the play progresses, and Isabella Niloufar is outstanding portraying the frustration and inner turmoil, but, even with a ridiculous beanie on her head, always seems slightly too glamorous for her character to be completely believable. Tanya Cubric as Nina gets to camp it up as Taylor in a ratty blonde wig, and makes you giggle as she spouts words of wisdom from Taylor Swift’s interviews and social media accounts, parroted back passionately by Yasmin.

Swifties has a lot to say about the discontent of ordinary people who think they deserve an easy path to celebrity and wealth, and believe that they actual know their idols after being immersed in the constant images on social media. Unfortunately, it all gets a little muddled, with the reveal of the context of the (very long) initial scenes of role play coming a little too late to care. But, with some more work on the script, Swifties can develop into a more rounded, coherent play that will fully engage Swifties and non-Swifties alike.

Birmingham Royal Ballet Cinderella Review


Lyric Theatre, The Lowry, Manchester – Wednesday March 1st 2017.  Reviewed by Julie Noller

I took my 14 year old daughter to see this production, her experience of Cinderella was either Disney Films or Panto. I was curious for her fresh take on the performance. Act I began and she like I was mesmerised. How did Jenna Roberts as Cinderella manage to dance without shoes? Was the topic of our conversation during the first interval, amazing you can see every detail, how her feet rise, how strong must she be to hold those stances up high on her toes!

I never expected Ballet to be so full of humour, energy and glitzy costumes yes, but the humour and facial expressions as well as exaggerated movements to me make this a clear winner over panto. If you have a young princess or indeed prince who will laugh at the sillyness of panto but not understand the adult themed jokes then this performance is for them. It was down to earth with characters who not only show skills beyond my comprehension but convey emotion. From the very beginning we see raw emotion , Cinderella silhouetted at her Mothers graveside, weeping to her Father and eventually alone apart from her Stepmother and step sisters. The music of Sergei Prokofiev is an excellent accompaniment throughout.

Prior to each act we noticed that the clock face on the curtain changed, with the clock eventually breaking and shattering, as time and reality fragment. The set was fast moving with the stage becoming smaller depending upon dance or characters on stage and easily doubling in size if needed, especially for the larger group dances which reminded me of early musical numbers in films where large dance routines required a sweeping staircase. To me something clicked with my love of musicals and a new found love of Ballet. It was well put together and the theatrics of the fireplace firstly a real fire bringing warmth to a gloomy cellar and then dry ice filling the same cellar with wonder and magic announcing the Fairy Godmothers arrival, this kept things moving at a fast pace.

The main bulk of humour came from the Step Sisters ‘ugly sisters’ who were not played by men following traditions but by women. Skinny and Dumpy were cleverly dressed obviously it was Dumpy wearing a fat suit and once again I found myself transfixed as to how they managed to dance so well, so badly, it was all so well choreographed by David Bintley. From the bullying of Cinderella in the cellar watched by Cinderellas Stepmother (Marion Tait) who wielded a cane for nothing more than power and I expected her to rap it against the cold hard floor in demands of Cinderella, reminiscent of Fame. The Sisters became man hungry, craving attention and showing off their poor dancing skills at the Princes Ball, fighting against each other, knocking into people and in Dumpys case chasing after the cakes much to our amusement.

The fairy Godmother (Yvette Knight) sometimes mirrored Cinderellas dances highlighting the goodness and magic. We are introduced to the four seasons each with fantastic colour appropriate costumes and individual dance.

In preparing to attend the ball we see the building of the carriage a stunning glass effect and quite possibly the cutest ballet dancers – Frog Coachman, Lizard Coachman and Mice Pages. If this was the film version, then I’d already have these cuddly characters on my wish list to purchase.

During Act II for the ball sequence between the Prince and Cinderella I overheard someone whisper ‘how does she do that’ the answer ‘skill’. Indeed it was wonderful to watch and I found myself not taking in the wonderful sparkly costumes but transfixed on her feet, watching each move with awe and wonder. We saw the other attendees disappear as the Prince (William Bracewell) only has eyes for Cinderella. He easily lifted her up and spun her in moves that put Strictly Come Dancing to shame and had the audience cheering and gasping. Eventually the Fairy Godmother arrives to rescue Cinderella, who doesn’t want to be rescued and is reluctant to leave but eventually flees into the night without a trace.

Act III begins with the Prince determined to find his beauty. Seeking her out amongst all the women in his kingdom is a tiring job there’s a shoe mountain to negotiate and then the poor men are chased by hoards of shoe wielding hopping women. Eventually the Prince and his men find their way to the house with the Stepmother and Sisters who cause such a commotion that Cinderella almost goes unnoticed not before she once again has her very own solo dance barefooted whilst remembering the magic of the ball. I am pleased that the Ballet ended not on, and everyone lived happily ever after moment but with a romantic very intimate (excluding the audience) dance between Cinderella and her Prince which left us feeling warm and fuzzy and my daughter asking when the next Ballet was!

Nell Gwynn Review

The Quays Theatre, The Lowry, Manchester.  Thursday March 2nd 2017.  Reviewed by Julie Noller

Directed by Christopher Luscombe

We pretty much all know the basics of Nell Gwynn, Prostitute turned actress turned mistress to Charles II. What would I discover after two hours of Jessica Swales drama that would change my perception?

The Quay Theatre inside The Lowry suited it perfectly, smaller than theatres of old with a cosiness almost reminiscent of sitting in front of my television. Walking in to take our seats we took in every detail of the set, which was not hidden behind a curtain but proudly on display. The band including lutes of the historical period were practising up on the balcony leading us to believe we were meant to hear and see them, smoke drifted across the stage eerily bringing to mind London smog; our senses were starting to awaken. We felt close to the stage even closer when actors appeared, sitting amongst us and the prologue began with humorous mistakes. We were drawn in immediately as if we were not the audience but fellow players in a Shakespearean drama. This continued throughout with a mix of bawdy carry on-esque humour and thoroughly modern jokes that the audience again became the third player to.

Nell is played by Laura Pitt-Pulford. The musical numbers allow us to hear her strong powerful voice that could quite easily belt out power ballads to raise the rafters. Nell is spunky, quite possibly the original spice girl. Periodically the lighting dimmed and we saw a vulnerable side to our Nelly but it was soon brushed aside with a little bit of risqué humour. The programme calls her our heroine and we celebrate her achievements from prostitute to orange seller, to become one of the first actresses to grace the London stage. She was the darling of her time trained and encouraged by Charles Hart played by Sam Marks with his dashing looks and l’oreal advert hair. Was he a ladies man or just Nells man? The affection was there for all to see, jealousy at times even pride. He was the leading actor of The Kings Company, managed by Thomas Killigrew (Clive Haywood) who’s love of success at the box office shows throughout. Nells feminine side and ease around men draws out the best in playwright John Drydon (Nicholas Bishop). He appears to be a fortune teller with his ideas for playscripts which the others humorously mock as silly, yet the audience laughed heartedly at. Nell is his muse much to the disgust of Edward Kynaston (Esh Alladi) he was one of the last boy players all females characters were to be played by him. He was camp and forthright a true luvvie of his time, often pouting and sulking, quite easily my favourite character. Stating his own story behind every character to be played that had nothing to do with story he was acting except to add laughs as it became the expected thing to the audience. Is this where method acting originated from? He was jealous of Nell especially as in the face of adversity she rose from an illiterate, to star, to catch the Kings eye. The king who had a roving eye and many mistresses, history tells us this, we meet his downtrodden, sad wife Catherine (Joanne Haworth) . who only speaks Portuguese with the odd witty English word thrown in for those of us without language skills, we meet Lady Castlemaine (philipa Flynn) who insists on showing up the weaknesses in the English Crown and eventually loses favour to Nell. Charles II (Ben Righton) has the only death scene despite many references to heads on spikes. It takes some persuading for Nell to succumb to his charms, however from first meeting it is apparent to the audience they are clearly struck with each other. Canny Nell knows how to handle her men and once again we see her spunky side as she manages a dream deal of £500 a year with apartment, not bad for a girl from the gutters!

Nell has to become an actress on stage and at court, attempting to balance working life against life with the King ‘who would dare to refuse the King of England’ and trying to please her family scared of what the royal court will think of them. She sadly loses her alcoholic Mother and the mask slips once again towards the end of King Charles life, as she is kept from his deathbed with no explanation but we the audience are led to believe it is because she is a woman weaker than the men around her although we the audience know differently. The play ends with a rousing chorus of the song that made Nell the theatres darling, show casing her character at its finest and enduring best. Life is for living.

Thoroughly Modern Millie Review

Grand Opera House York.  Reviewed by Michelle Richardson

Winner of six Tony Awards Thoroughly Modern Millie is the delightful comedy set in NewYork in 1922, and based on the 1967 award-winning film. Now showing at the Grand Opera House, York, running until Saturday 4th March and touring the UK.

It is 1922 and Millie Dillmount, played by Joanne Clifton best known from Strictly Come Dancing, has just arrived in New York City from Kansas with every intention of marrying a rich man. Having her purse stolen and nowhere to go she bumps into a stranger, who appears to be a bit of a lad, but he does help her to find a place to stay. We see Millie transfer from a country bumpkin into a flapper, with the bobbed hair and trendy clothes, and getting a job as a stenographer and setting her sites on her boss, Mr Trevor Graydon, played by Graham MacDuff.

Her “Chinese” landlady, Mrs Meers, played wonderfully by Lucas Rush, is really a wanted criminal selling any poor orphan girl that has the misfortune of staying at “her” establishment into slavery. Mrs Meers would not be out of place being cast as a pantomime villain, and Rush contributed greatly to the comedy of the whole show. His vocal performance of “They Don’t Know” was one of the highlights of the show.

Needless to say, things don’t go to plan and she ends up falling in love with the supposedly flaky, penniless, ladykiller Jimmy Smith, played by Sam Barrett. His portrayal of Jimmy was more than a match for Clifton with his singing and dancing.

Katherine Glover, who plays Millie’s friend Dorothy, and MacDuff certainly have the best vocals of the whole cast but Clifton does a great job as Millie and shows she can sing and act, as well as dance. They are well supported by the rest of the cast. I must also mention one of the dancers who also played Ching Ho, Damian Buhagiar, his dancing and athleticism was so memorizing.

The costumes are beautiful and the choreography is amazing. The set whipped back into the age of the roaring 20’s, the lift scene with the lights was one to note.

Overall it was a great comedy performance and had all the audience laughing, and at one stage even the cast when MacDuff was playing the extremely drunk Graydon, with Clifton and Barrett. It was infectious to see everyone laughing along and taking it in their stride.

If you are after a light hearted musical comedy and don’t take anything too seriously you will not be disappointed.

Ayahuasca ceremonies uncovered in new short play at Theatre N16

MetalMouth Theatre presents:

March 14th – March 19th 2017, Theatre N16

MetalMouth Theatre bring their new short show Vines to Theatre N16 in March 2017, running at just 30 minutes. Vines tells the story of a girl finding herself through a spiritual ayahuasca ceremony. Uplifting and thought-provoking, it’s a look at how to become the person you want to be, why you behave the way you do and finding human connection. Sometimes in life you just need a little push in the right direction… sometimes that push can take you to another dimension you couldn’t imagine in your wildest dreams.

“MetalMouth are on a mission to prove that theatre isn’t stuffy or boring” The Guide

“I’m scared I’m going to blink and I’ll wake up when I’m 60 and die not having done anything. I don’t want to regret anything.” Vines is a magical piece of solo storytelling which takes you on the journey of a young girls self-discovery and finding of her place in the world.

“London should look forward to further shots of shameless energy from this group” Openmagazine

Writer/performer Alex Critolph trained at LAMDA and has worked on BBC’s Doctors, at The Waterloo East Theatre and with SONY. She started writing and producing her own work whilst at The BRIT School under Metal Mouth Productions, with productions including Sinisterrr at The Hen & Chickens and Cockpit Theatre and WASHED for The Brighton Fringe Festival.

Director Leah Fogo has previously directed Unravelling for Top Note Arts, worked as an assistant director at The Hampstead Theatre on Pine and as assistant director at The Waterloo East Theatre on Taken in Marriage. The play features grime-style music composed by Matthew Gardner.

The Crucible: a chilling reminder of the frailty of reason in the face of hysteria


The blistering classic, The Crucible, brings you seventeenth century Salem, where truth holds no currency, fear is used as a political tool and where intruding threats are invented to explain current woes. Arthur Miller’s terrifying witch-hunt classic couldn’t be more pertinent in today’s political landscape and arrives at Richmond Theatre from Tuesday 11th to Saturday 15th April.

In a tight knit community, a group of girls is caught dancing wildly in the woods. Allegations of witchcraft ensue. Lust, superstition and personal grievances collide and the whole village is quickly consumed by an unstoppable flow of fear, paranoia and manipulation – suddenly no-one is safe from their neighbour and the noose. Who will survive?

Arthur Miller is author of many of today’s most celebrated modern classics including All My Sons, Death of a Salesman and A View from the Bridge. His landmark drama, The Crucible, stands as both a historical record and a political parable for our times. The unrelenting and violent witch-hunt, originally written as an allegory about the brutal reign of McCarthyism in 1950s America, resonates into the present day as a stark and ferocious warning from the past.

Charlie Condou, best known for playing Marcus Dent on the UK’s best-loved soap, Coronation Street takes on the role of witch-hunter Reverend Hale in the spine-tingling thriller with Victoria Yeates, who is currently appearing in BBC period drama Call The Midwife, as Elizabeth Proctor. They will be joined by Eoin Slattery as John Proctor and Lucy Keirl as Abigail Williams.

Other cast members include, Paul Beech as Francis Nurse, David Delve as Giles Corey, Cornelius Clarke as Reverend Parris, Diana Yekinni as Tituba and Mercy Lewis, David Kirkbride as Ezekiel Cheever, Eleanor Montgomery as Ann Putnam and Susanna Walcott, Augustina Seymour as Mary Warren and Rebecca Nurse, Leona Allen as Betty Parris and Carl Patrick as Thomas Putnam and Marshall Herrick.

This bold new production of one of the 20th Century’s finest plays is directed by the Queen’s Theatre’s new artistic director Douglas Rintoul, who thrilled audiences with his recent sell-out production Made in Dagenham. Rintoul’s Brechtian take on the production draws parallels with Trump’s America and Post Brexit UK where truth is no longer an absolute and daily reports of race-driven hate crime fill the news.

The Crucible is co-produced with award-winning producing house Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Selladoor Productions, leading producer of mid and large-scale productions including recent successful UK tours of The

History Boys, Sunset Song, Little Shop of Horrors, Footloose and American Idiot, in association with Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg.

Douglas Rintoul says ‘The Crucible speaks more to us now than it has done since its premiere in 1953. I’m thrilled to be directing this terrifying play and for this production to be reaching audiences across the UK and in Luxembourg through this innovative partnership’.

David Hutchinson, Executive Creative Producer of Selladoor Productions says ‘We are delighted to be working with the Queen’s Theatre, with Douglas Rintoul at the helm bringing one of the most important plays of the last century on a major UK Tour.’

Find us:

Twitter: @TheCrucibleTour Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecrucibletour/

National Theatre to tour Hedda Gabler to The Lowry

National Theatre to tour Ibsen’s masterpiece
Hedda Gabler

A new version by Patrick Marber
Directed by Ivo Van Hove 

At The Lowry Mon 30 October – Sat 4 November

Following a sold-out run at the National Theatre’s Lyttelton Theatre, the NT will begin a UK tour of its acclaimed production of Hedda Gabler.  At The Lowry from Mon 30 October – Sat 4 November.

Just married. Bored already. Hedda longs to be free…

This vital new version of Ibsen’s masterpiece by Olivier and Tony Award®-winning playwright Patrick Marber (Closer, Three Days in the Country) is directed by Ivo van Hove, one of the world’s most exciting directors.  Olivier and Tony Award®-winning  van Hove made his National Theatre debut with Hedda Gabler, which is running in repertoire at the NT’s Lyttelton Theatre until 21 March 2017.  His acclaimed production of A View from the Bridge recently played to sold out houses at the Young Vic, in the West End and on Broadway.  Van Hove’s next production for the NT will be the world premiere of Network based on the Oscar-winning film.  It will feature a UK stage debut for Bryan Cranston.

Set and lighting design for Hedda Gabler is by Jan Versweyveld, with costume design by An D’Huys and sound by Tom Gibbons.  The Associate Director for the tour is Jeff James.

Patrick Marber said:  ‘It has been a huge honour to work with the great Ivo van Hove on this version of Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre. I am thrilled that this tour will enable more people to see his incredible production.’

Casting will be announced soon.

Listings Info
Hedda Gabler
Mon 30 October- Saturday 4 November
Times: 7.30pm, Sat 2pm
Box office: 0843 208 6000

Casting announced today for Guards at the Taj by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph

Guards at the Taj


Written by Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Jamie Lloyd
Designed by Soutra Gilmour

Bush Theatre
7 April – 20 May
Press Night 12 April
Casting is announced today for the European premiere of Guards at the Taj, written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph and directed by Jamie Lloyd. Danny Ashok (Disgraced, Bush Theatre; Capital, BBC) will play Humayun and Darren Kuppan (East is East, West End/ UK Tour)will play Babur. A new image of the cast has been released today and is now available to download here.

This darkly comic play will open the 2017 season at the Bush Theatre, following its major £4.3m capital project to revitalise the building. Guards at the Taj takes an enduring legend about the Taj Mahal and prompts audiences to explore questions about art, privilege and duty. The play premiered at the Atlantic Theater in New York to great acclaim in 2015 and is the recipient of both the Obie Award for Best New American Play and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play.

“If we hadn’t done our jobs tonight, we’d be hanging by our necks in the royal courtyard getting our eyes pecked out by the royal crows. So excuse me if I don’t wallow in some misbegotten guilt all night. Was it fucked up? Yes, it was. But I don’t have to feel terrible about it.”

It’s 1648. Agra, India. Imperial guards Humayun and Babur keep watch as the final touches are put to the mighty Taj Mahal behind them. The emperor has decreed that no one, except the masons, labourers and slaves who exist within those walls, shall turn to look at the building until it is complete.

Guards at the Taj is written by Rajiv Joseph, directed by Jamie Lloyd and designed by Soutra Gilmour. Lighting design is by Richard Howell with sound design and music composed by George Dennis. Fight direction is by Kate Waters.

Danny Ashok’s credits at the Bush Theatre include the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced, which transferred to Broadway and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. Most recently at the Bush he appeared in Zaida and Aadam, part of last season’s This Place We Know. Elsewhere his theatre credits include The Djinns of Eidgah (Royal Court), Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 (Theatre Royal Bath) and Blood and Gifts (National Theatre). He most recently appeared in the International Emmy Award-winning BBC Drama Capital. Further television work includes The Five, Chasing Shadows and the BAFTA-winning The Dumping Ground. He has recently finished shooting the lead role in Finding Fatimah, directed by Oz Arshad, which will be released this spring.

Darren Kuppan most recently appeared on stage in The Tempest (Shakespeare’s Globe). Previous credits include Cymbeline (Shakespeare’s Globe), as Maneer Khan in East Is East (West End/ UK Tour), An August Bank Holiday Lark (Northern Broadsides), England Street (Oxford Playhouse), Great Expectations (English Touring Theatre/ Watford Palace), Rafta Rafta (Bolton Octagon/ New Vic Stoke), the lead in Theatre Royal Stratford East’s Aladdin, Arabian Nights (New Vic Stoke) and Bollywood Jane (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Television work includes Spooks and Britannia High.

Jamie Lloyd (director) has directed many productions in the West End for The Jamie Lloyd Company, including Doctor Faustus, The Maids, The Homecoming, The Ruling Class (Evening Standard Award for Best Actor for James McAvoy), Macbeth (Olivier nomination for Best Revival), The Hothouse, Richard III and The Pride. He won the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical for Passion while he was Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse (2008 to 2011) and the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre for The Pride (Royal Court). Lloyd’s other extensive credits include Urinetown (St. James Theatre/ West End), The Commitments (West End/ UK Tour), The Duchess of Malfi (Old Vic), She Stoops to Conquer (National Theatre), The Faith Machine,  Inadmissible Evidence, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Polar Bears (all Donmar Warehouse), Piaf (Donmar Warehouse/ Vaudeville/Teatro Liceo, Buenos Aires/Nuevo Teatro Alcala, Madrid; Olivier nomination for Best Musical Revival, Hugo Award for Best Director, Clarin Award for Best Musical Production, ADEET Award for Best Production) and Three Days of Rain (West End; Olivier nomination for Best Revival).  He is currently directing a double bill of Philip Ridley’s work, Killer and The Pitchfork Disney, at Shoreditch Town Hall.

Rajiv Joseph (playwright) became a Pulitzer Prize finalist (2010) for his Broadway play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which starred Robin Williams in his Broadway debut. Other plays include Gruesome Playground Injuries, Animals Out of Paper and All This Intimacy (Second Stage Theatre). Screen credits include seasons 3 & 4 of the TV series Nurse Jackie and he was the co-screenwriter of the film Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner.

Soutra Gilmour (designer) is an award-winning designer whose extensive credits include many productions in collaboration with Jamie Lloyd. She has designed several productions for The Jamie Lloyd Company in the West End including Doctor Faustus, The Maids, The Homecoming, The Ruling Class, Richard III, The Pride, The Hothouse and Macbeth. Previous work at the Bush Theatre includes Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Qur’an.