Full casting announced for A L Y S,  A L W A Y S Lucinda Coxon’s new play based on Harriet Lane’s novel

Alys, Always
Alys, Always

Alys, Always

Joining the previously announced Joanne Froggatt (Frances) and Robert Glenister (Lawrence) in the premiere of Lucinda Coxon’s Alys, Always areDanny Ashok (Sid), Joanna David (Charlotte), Leah Gayer (Polly), Simon Manyonda (Oliver), Sylvestra Le Touzel (Mary/Audrey), Jeff Rawle(Robin/Mr Thorpe), Vineeta Rishi (Julia Price), Sue Wallace (Mrs Thorpe) and Sam Woolf (Teddy).

Directed by Nicholas Hytner and based on the novel by Harriet LaneAlys, Always begins previews at the Bridge Theatre on 25 February with opening night on 5 March, running to 30 March 2019.  Evening performances are Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm with weekday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm (check website for details).  Set designs are by Bob Crowley with costume designs by Christina Cunningham, lighting by Jon Clark, music byGrant Olding, sound by Gareth Fry and video designs by Luke Halls.

Frances works on the books pages of a Sunday newspaper. She’s quiet and capable, but nobody takes much notice: her face is pressed to the window, on the outside, looking in. One evening, driving back to London after visiting her infuriating parents, she comes across an upturned car crumpled on the side of the road. She waits with the injured driver, Alys Kyte, until the ambulance arrives. Later, when Alys’s famous family gets in touch, Frances finds herself for the first time ushered into the world on the other side of the window. And she begins to wonder: what would it take to become a player? A gripping psychological thriller that excavates the fault line that separates the entitled from the unentitled.

 On television Joanne Froggatt played Anna Smith in all six seasons of Downton Abbey for which she was the recipient of a Golden Globe award as well as three Emmy nominations.  She is currently filming the feature film of the same period drama. Last year she was seen in Sundance TV and ITV’s Liar which has now been commissioned for a second series. Her previous theatre credits include The Knowledge and Little Platoons at the Bush Theatre, All About My Mother at the Old Vic, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Manchester Royal Exchange, Playhouse Creatures at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Be My Baby for Soho Theatre. On film Froggatt recently played alongside Ed Harris and Rich Sommer in the independent feature A Crooked Somebody.  Her other film credits include Mary Shelley, One Last Thing, Starfish, A Street Cat Named Bob and Filth. She won Best Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards for her film debut in In Our Name.

 Robert Glenister was last seen in Moonlight and Night School as part of Jamie Lloyd’s Pinter at the Pinter season.  His many other theatre credits includeGlengarry Glen Ross at the Playhouse Theatre, Great Britain and Blue Remembered Hills for the National Theatre, Noises Off at the Old Vic and Novello, The Late Middle Classes for the Donmar Warehouse, Hedda Gabler for the Theatre Royal, Bath, The Winterling for the Royal Court and Measure for Measure, The Spanish Tragedy and Little Eyolf  for the Royal Shakespeare Company. His many television credits include Curfew, Paranoid, The Musketeers, Cold Feet, Close to the Enemy, Vera, The Great Train Robbery, The Café, We’ll Take Manhattan, Hustle and Spooks. Glenister’s film credits include The Aeronauts, Journey’s End, Live by Night, Cryptic, Creation, Laissez Passer, The Visitors, All Forgotten, Secret Rapture and Quadrophenia.

Danny Ashok’s theatre credits include Guards at the Taj, Zaida and Aadam and Disgraced at the Bush Theatre, The Djinns of Eidgah at the Royal Court,Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 for The Peter Hall Company and Blood & Gifts for the National Theatre. On television he has been seen in Holby City, Doctors, Silk, Casualty, Coronation Street and The Bill.


Joanna David was last on stage in Absolute Hell at the National Theatre where she previously appeared in Stages. Her other theatre credits includeHobson’s Choice at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, The Family Reunion at Vaudeville Theatre, Ring Round the Moon at the Playhouse Theatre, A Voyage Round My Father at the Donmar Warehouse, Breaking the Code and The Cherry Orchard at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, The Family Reunion, Uncle Vanya and The Importance of Being Earnest for the Manchester Royal Exchange. On television her credits include The Boy with the Topknot, Agatha Raisin, Downton Abbey, Death in Paradise, Casualty, Rebecca, Sense and Sensibility and War and Peace.


Leah Gayer, who trained at RADA, is making her professional stage debut.

Simon Manyonda was last seen in the Barber Shop Chronicles at the National Theatre, where his previous credits also include Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, King Lear, Greenland and Welcome to Thebes.  His other theatre credits include King Lear at the Old Vic, Giving and Wildefire at Hampstead Theatre and A Midsummer Night’s Dreaming and Julius Caesar for the Royal Shakespeare Company.  His television credits include Shakespeare and Hathaway, Uncle, Doctor Who and Holby CitySuspects and Whitechapel.

Sylvestra Le Touzel was recently seen in Hogarth’s Progress: The Art of Success and The Taste of the Town at the Rose Theatre.  Her other theatre credits include The Pride of Miss Jean BrodieLes Parents Terribles and Ivanov for the Donmar Warehouse, GivingImagine DrowningFall and The War at Home for Hampstead Theatre, Wild EastMy Heart’s a SuitcaseOurselves Alone, Unity and Glasshouses for the Royal Court as well as multiple productions for the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company. Her television credits include The Crown, Endeavour, The Thick of It, Utopia and Mansfield Park.

Jeff Rawle was last seen at the Bridge in Nicholas Hytner’s production of Allelujah!. His other theatre credits include Saint George and the Dragon, Cocktail Sticks, Fram, The Power of Yes and Noises Off at the National Theatre, High Society at the Old Vic, Handbagged at the Tricycle and Vaudeville Theatre, Bottle Universe at the Bush Theatre and Way to HeavenThe Arbor, The Irish Soldier and Bent at the Royal Court. On television he has been seen in The Durrells, The Outcast, Heading Out, Holby City, The Charles Dickens ShowHollyoaks, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Doc Martin, New Tricks, Spooks, Drop the Dead Donkey, Billy Liar and Doctor Who. His film credits include A Modern Tale, Peterloo and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Vineeta Rishi’s theatre credits include Who Cares for the Royal Court, Hobson’s Choice for the Young Vic, Beasts and Beauties for the Bristol Old Vic andWhat We Did to Weinstein for the Menier Chocolate Factory. She has been seen on television in Boy Meets Girl, Doctors, Waking the Dead, The Last Detective and Doctor Who.

Sue Wallace was last seen at the Bridge in Nicholas Hytner’s production of Allelujah!. Her previous theatre credits include Husbands and Sons, Emil and the Detectives and Hymn/Cocktail Sticks for the National Theatre, A Cream Cracker Under the Settee for Bolton Octagon, Billy Liar and Everybody Loves a Winner at Royal Exchange Manchester, Hay Fever for Chichester Festival Theatre and The Merry Wives of Windsor at Shakespeare’s Globe. Her television credits includes In the Club, Quick Cuts, Shameless, In the Flesh, The Royal, Housewife 49, Coronation Street, Wire in the Blood, Casualty, The Locksmith, Common as Muck, Martin Chuzzlewit, Pat and Margaret, Making Out, Bergerac and Victoria Wood as Seen on TV.  Her film credits includes I Give It a Year, Is There Anybody There, Blue Money and Experience Preferred but Not Essential.

Sam Woolf can currently be seen in Antony and Cleopatra at the National Theatre. His other theatre credits include The Winter’s Tale for the Barbican andKing Lear for the Rose Theatre.

Lucinda Coxon’s previous theatre writing credits include Herding Cats, Happy Now, The Eternal Not, Nostalgia, The Shoemaker’s Wife, Vesuvius, Wishbones, Three Graces, The Ice Palace and Waiting at the Water’s Edge.  Her screen writing credits include the multiple award-winning The Danish Girl starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, The Crimson Petal and the White starring Romola Garai for BBC, Wild Target starring Emily Blunt, The Heart of Me starring Paul Bettany and Helena Bonham-Carter and the recently released The Little Stranger starring Domnhall Gleeson and Ruth Wilson.

Alys, Always was Harriet Lane’s debut novel, published in 2012, and was followed in 2014 with Her. Previously Lane wrote for the Guardian and the Observer as well as Vogue and Tatler.


Nicholas Hytner co-founded the London Theatre Company with Nick Starr.  He was Director of the National Theatre from 2003 to 2015, where the productions he directed included The History BoysHamletOne Man, Two Guvnors, and Othello.  His films include The Madness of George IIIThe Lady in the Van and The History Boys.  His book Balancing Acts is published by Jonathan Cape. For the Bridge, Hytner has directed Young Marx, Julius Caesar andAllelujah! and will be directing the forthcoming immersive production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream opening in June 2019.



Bridge Theatre: A Very Very Very Questionable Year

Bridge Theatre

Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr’s year-old theatre is testing my patience. The mission statement of the two Nicks was to focus primarily on new plays.

I suppose they did do that.

One thing’s for sure, though – the 900-seat, £12.5m Bridge Theatre, has the best toilets in London. No subsidy either. 100% commercial theatre, folks, and disappointingly, when I glanced a programme, within the core staff: no education department. Poor show, guys.

There’s something a bit unnerving about anyone who isn’t London’s literati giving a damn about Bridge Theatre. The warning signs were there as early as the third production Nightfall (Barney Norris) and who can forget the terminal Young Marx (Richard Bean). Let’s not dwell on the shoddy reunion with long-term collaborator Alan Bennett (Allelujah!) either. I walked out of all three bored rigid.

The fact that Hytner has still never directed a play by a woman is an obvious concern, which, I think you’ll agree, is fairly impressive. The two Nicks have to start commissioning and involving women writers. Their worrying all-male, all-white line-up will never bring in a diverse audience.

But, hey, why bother with quality control when you can sell tickets to an Evening with Nigella Lawson for £45.00 a pop and shed-loads of Madelines during the intervals.

The Bridge’s latest misfireMartin McDonagh’s objectively rubbish new play A Very Very Very Dark Matter. It might be a contender for the worst play of the year. Why? The plot. Or almost complete lack of it, to be more accurate. No matter how many illustrious writers pen something for that stage and, despite them being an Oscar winner – I still haven’t been able to find one. A Very Very Very Dark Matter never takes off; avoid it at all costs.

A Very Dark Matter, Jim Broadbent

A Very Dark Matter, Jim Broadbent

McDonagh has taken a historical figure and made him a racist idiot– imagining the life he lived at the height of his fame – in this case by portraying Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen (Jim Broadbent) being offensive to a Congolese pygmy woman (Eula’Mae Ackles) in a secret dwelling upstairs in his attic.

As maddeningly incoherent as it sounds.

What did stun me, though, was the sudden realisation that I’d seen it before. It’s a star-fucking Horrible Histories, obviously, but not just the basic grotesque spin on historical events – whether portraying Charles Dickens as a foul-mouthed misery or Christian Andersen as a cockney racist.

The difference, of course, is that Horrible Histories often delivers a powerful message with a charm, subtlety, humour, a proper story and a great script. Matthew Dunster’s production does it with a mallet over the head. The 90-minute evening is full of the F and C words and an attempt to make us laugh at genuinely offensive language, stereotypes about ‘gyppos’ and in-jokes about German directors. How wrong. How sadly, awfully, dangerously wrong.

Either Nick Hytner and Nick Starr have taken their eyes off the ball or else they are working towards better things. However, what they are missing, as yet, is a real sense of vision, inclusion and diversity. Just because it is a commercial enterprise doesn’t mean these things are not compatible.

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

Sure, the toilets are nice and Hytner’s promenade production of Julius Caesar was smart and gripping. But with the new season containing a victory-lap of monologue My Name Is Lucy Barton and Hytner directing an immersive production of William Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I’ll pass thanks.

And you can keep your signature Madeleines… For now.


FIRST LOOK: Production images: Young Marx

Nicholas Hytner & Nick Starr welcomed the first ever audience to the newly built Bridge Theatre

Tonight (Saturday 14 October 2017Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr welcomed the first ever audience to the newly built Bridge Theatre situated on the river by Tower Bridge and City Hall.  In advance of official previews beginning next week (18 October 2017), tonight an audience of Bridge and Young Bridge members were invited to try out the building for the first time.

As well as seeing Young Marx, the opening production at the Bridge – a new play by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, directed by Nicholas Hytner – the audience of over nine hundred people experienced the theatre’s in-house bar, café and up to date facilities.

The flagship theatre of the London Theatre Company, the Bridge is London’s first theatre of scale to be added to London’s commercial theatre stock in eighty years.

London Theatre Company commissioned the new theatre from architect Steve Tompkins and his colleague Roger Watts from Haworth Tompkins.  The Bridge auditorium is a collaboration between Haworth TompkinsLTC and Tait Stage Technologies.


I went along to the unveiling of LAMDA’S new building and had a chat with Joanna Read and Rory Kinnear


COMPETITION: win a copy of ‘Balancing Acts’ by Nicholas Hytner.

Nicholas Hytner
Balancing Acts by Nicholas Hytner

Balancing Acts by Nicholas Hytner


Well, it’s that time of the year when I like to run a competition and, as luck would have it, Balancing Acts by Nicholas Hytner has come my way in order to draw attention to the fact that Hytner’s got a new book knocking around at the moment.

Balancing Acts is the inside story of Nicholas Hytner‘s twelve years at the helm of the National Theatre, apparently.
 To win a copy of this book all you need to do is sign up in the box below

Every day’s an adventure here at

 And that is that.

National Theatre Platforms: Nicholas Hytner and Tracy Chevalier

An eclectic programme of talks, debates and events, Platforms reveal more about the National Theatre’s repertoire, artists and history.

For more information, and to book tickets, visit the NT Platforms page.

Nicholas Hytner

Nicholas Hytner © Hugo Glendinning

Nicholas Hytner: Balancing Acts

Monday 22 May, 6pm, Lyttelton Theatre
Running Time: 45 minutes approximately

Nicholas Hytner reveals the inside story of his 12 years at the helm of the National. This is a story about actors, writers and directors; about directing new plays including The History Boys and One Man, Two Guvnors; films including The Madness of King George; about probing Shakespeare from every angle and reinventing the classics; and about coming up time and again against the challenge of reconciling art and commerce.

With candour, intelligence, humour and insight borne from experience of extraordinary successes and lunatic failures, he explores the biggest questions facing the creative industries right now.

Live subtitling by STAGETEXT for deaf, deafened and hard-of-hearing people.

Buy tickets £5 (£4 concessions)

Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier

Shakespeare Retold with Tracy Chevalier

Friday 9 June, 6.30pm, Dorfman Theatre
Running Time: 45 minutes approximately

The author of Girl with the Pearl Earring discusses New Boy, her reworking of Othello, the latest in the Hogarth Shakespeare series.

The historical novelist transplants the story to the 1970s playground, where a young black boy arrives at an all-white school and finds himself at the centre of a vicious plot of jealousy, betrayal and revenge.

Buy tickets £5 (£4 concessions)