Articles for the ‘Theatre’ Category


Indhu Rubasingham returns to the National Theatre

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 by Tricycle

The Tricycle’s Artistic Director Indhu Rubasingham will return to the National Theatre in 2017, following her hugely acclaimed production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Motherf**ker With The Hat last year.

Ugly Lies The Bone

An honest and funny new drama, Ugly Lies The Bone marks the UK Debut of award-winning American playwright Lindsey Ferrentino.

After three tours in Afghanistan, Jess finally returns to Florida. In a small town on the Space Coast, as the final shuttle is about to launch, Jess must confront her scars – and a home that may have changed even more than her.

Experimenting with a pioneering virtual reality therapy, she builds a breathtaking new world where she can escape her pain. There, she begins to restore her relationships, her life and, slowly, herself.

Ugly Lies The Bone runs at the National Theatre from 22 February 2017. Tickets from £15. Find out more and book tickets at

★★★★★ ‘This is a triumph for the National’
Evening Standard on The Motherf**ker With The Hat


Lucian Msamati talks about Toof, Iago and the RSC

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 by Tricycle

Lucian Msamati stars as Archbishop Tardimus Toof in our current World Premiere production of Marcus Gardley’s A Wolf In Snakeskin Shoes, before which he made headlines with an ‘outstanding’ performance (The Guardian) as the first Black actor to play Othello’s nemesis Iago at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Left to right: Michelle Bonnard, Ayesha Antoine, Lucian Msamati, Wil Johnson and Karl Queensborough. Photo: Mark Douet

We spoke to Lucian about his time at the RSC, and how he made the transition from playing the villain in a Shakespeare tragedy to playing a villain in an adapted Molière comedy. This is what he had to say…

What is it like working at the RSC? This is, in all honesty a very frustrating question to try and answer — and that is not to pooh-pooh the question! — it’s frustrating because I don’t know whether there is ever a satisfying or insightful way to put another at the heart of that experience. It would be like me asking Cristiano Ronaldo, ‘What’s it like playing for Real Madrid?’ What does he say, ‘It’s cool!’ ‘It’s fantastic!’. It is not as if those answers are ‘wrong’. But for me? Not entirely satisfactory (And just to be clear, I am not comparing myself to Ronaldo; we are the same height and that’s it.) For one thing this is my job as well as my passion so I don’t ‘change’ or ‘adapt’ who I am or what I do to suit the company I happen to be employed by at any given time. On the other hand, of course there is obvious excitement when you’re playing for one of the ‘Big Un’s’. But when it comes down to it? The really noticeable and notable contrast is always practical. The bigger companies seem to have more of the two things most of us perhaps crave: time and money. There is a certain security in that; there is a big difference in having four weeks to mount a production and having twelve weeks; a massive difference. But it doesn’t lessen the pressure! It is the difference between reading a book by a renowned scholar and being able to fly the author over to speak to you in person. That is fantastic! And cool! But either way you still have to get down and do the work: rehearse, learn lines, adapt, absorb, finesse, create and repeat.

Transitioning from ‘Iago’ to ‘Toof’ was quite straightforward. I was incredibly privileged and proud to have had a director and fellow cast at the RSC full of trust, respect, intelligence, fun, grit and camaraderie. It made it easier to shake off the darkness and intensity of that particular character. I have been blessed to walk into a very similar situation with ‘Wolf’: many fine folk that I have had the privilege of playing alongside before. Other than Karl, I have worked with everyone else before; that really is a blessing to be treasured and allows us all to take the material much further.

But actually? Iago and Toof are not that dissimilar: they’re both frustrated by their position in life; they both feel they’re worth much, much more; they both have marital issues; they’re both witty, insightful and resourceful but turn their ire in the wrong direction; they both see the audience as their confidante/accomplice. But the biggest split (other than the fact that Iago is very good at killing his way through certain problems) for me is that when faced with their moment of reckoning, Toof confesses his full, dark and ugly truth to the world. Does it absolve him? Not necessarily. But we perhaps understand his motivation a tiny bit more. But in the same moment, in a parallel universe, Iago keeps quiet; we see and perceive glimpses of what that mania is, but in the end, it is possible to understand why people don’t entirely ‘get’ him. Maybe they ought to share a cell — but not in my head, thank you very much!

A Wolf In Snakeskin Shoes by Marcus Gardley is on stage at the Tricycle Theatre until Saturday 14 November. Book your ticket today!


Scott Graham, Artistic Director of Frantic Assembly on The Believers…

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 by Tricycle


 The Believers rehearsalsThe Believers rehearsals

Initially all that existed was a title, The Believers, and the briefest synopsis – it is about belief systems. Apart from that, I was starting from scratch.

The first research and development we did was driven by the book Religion Explained, a fascinating insight into belief and anthropology, I then decided to look at horror films, as they inspire us to believe in the absurd and I was interested in how far our belief systems might bend and alter when presented with different situations. That might be fear and terror, or it might be the promise of great reward.

These were early directions but many of them are still applicable in what became The Believers. When you set out to make a show, it can take at least two years and in that time you can change direction, take wrong turnings, get lost, or meet sudden inspiration – something that came to Eddie and I in the early hours of the morning after our first preview as it struck us that what we had all just watched was a beautiful painting. It was crafted to within an inch of its life but it remained two-dimensional. It was not leaping out and embracing or shaking us, which led us to spending the next day giving the production a bit more oomph. By 21:00 that night, it had become clear that our hard work was well worth it – it had leapt out at us, gripped us for 70 minutes and then released us feeling shaken and very proud.

I think The Believers illustrates why I cast actors and then get them to move. The four performers were cast on their acting ability and their potential to give their best physically. Eddie and I were confident we could introduce them to the physical world and get them strong and confident physically. When we had achieved that, we knew that their acting skills would then come to the fore – and, of course, they did. 

You can find out more about The Believers on our website here


A Boy And His Soul trailer

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 by Tricycle

Watch the trailer for Colman Domingo’s award winning coming-of-age story, A Boy And His Soul


A Boy And His Soul is on stage at the Tricycle theatre from 4 – 21 September. Book Now.


Audience Reactions to The Epic Adventure Of Nhamo The Manyika Warrior…

Thursday, August 8th, 2013 by Tricycle

See what other people thought of this hilarious African comedy by Denton Chikura, directed by Lucian Msamati.

Due to an overwhelming response from both audiences and critics, we’ve added an extra week of performances of The Epic Adventure of Nhamo The Manyika Warrior and his sexy wife Chipo.

The production will now be on stage at the Tricycle Theatre until 24 August. Book Now


The soundtrack … Take It Easy Hospital

Friday, November 16th, 2012 by Tricycle

As the opening of The Arabian Nights approaches, Iranian band Take It Easy Hospital (aka Ash Koshanejad and Negar Shaghaghi) have been in the rehearsal room preparing the soundtrack for this modern, punky adaptation.

The indie/rock duo (who also starred in the film No One Knows About Persian Cats) have been working with the company to create a vibrant, edgy soundtrack to reflect the energ

y and tenacity of the production.

Get yourself in the mood by watching the music video for their previous single Human Jungle and sampling more tracks on MySpace. Plus read this Guardian article to find out about the duo’s extraordinary experience being musicians in Iran.




The Arabian Nights preview trailer

Monday, November 5th, 2012 by Tricycle

With rehearsals for The Arabian Nights in full swing, we caught up with Director Lu Kemp, actors Sandy Grierson and Ony Uhiara, and the Tricycle Theatre’s Artistic Director Indhu Rubasingham, about the magic of stories.

The Arabian Nights runs from 30 Nov – 12 Jan.
Click here to find out more and book tickets.



The Arabian Nights rehearsal photos

Friday, November 2nd, 2012 by Tricycle

As you can see from these pictures, rehearsals for The Arabian Nights are in full swing! A contemporary twist on ancient tales, this festive show promises to be magical, funny and dark…  a feast of story telling by a wonderful cast of actors. With music composed by Iranian indie rockers Take It Easy Hospital to spice up proceedings, this is one show you don’t want to miss!


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The Arabian Nights runs from 30 Nov 2012 – 12 Jan 2013




Bravo Mark Thomas!

Friday, August 10th, 2012 by Tricycle

Mark Thomas’s new show, Bravo Figaro, is going down a storm at the Edinburgh Fringe (Traverse Theatre till 26th August), and has just earned Mark a well-deserved Fringe First Award. We can’t wait till it opens here on 10th September. Bravo Figaro tells the story of Mark’s experience when his father develops a degenerative disease. We could tell you more, or you could read an interview with Mark in the Evening Standard, or this article in The Guardian, or you could even listen to him talking about it on Radio 4’s Front Row.

 We emerge enlightened, uplifted and deeply moved METRO

 A work of honest beauty THE HERALD

 Deeply powerful… A profound exploration THE LIST 

Four Stars Touching but brilliantly funny THE TIMES

Four Stars Bravo indeed THE TELEGRAPH

Four Stars A heartwarming story told with a lot of humour SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

Four Stars [A] refreshing performance SUNDAY TIMES

 … This is one you really don’t want to miss.



What The **** Is Normal?! – An interview with Francesca Martinez

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 by Tricycle

Francesca Martinez will be performing What The **** Is Normal?! at the Tricycle Theatre from Wednesday 6 – Saturday 9 June, and will be joined by a very special guest each night. Click Here for more information.


To say that Francesca Martinez is up-and-coming would be a serious oversight – in actual fact, she’s been active since 1994. Beginning her career as an actor in Grange Hill, representing the series’ first main disabled character, then moving in to the comedy world (even balancing the two with her role in an episode of Extras) and coming to add motivational speaking to her already impressive CV, she’s no newbie to the circuit.

Francesca Martinez“It’s a very personal show; growing up being labelled “abnormal” from a very young age has meant that I’ve had this intense relationship with the word “normal” and this show is kind of based on that premise of, you know, what do you do when you’re labelled “abnormal” in a world obsessed with normality and fitting in? The show’s kind of my answer to that question. I think whatever you’ve got is normal to you, so I have this funny contradiction whereby the world labelled me “abnormal”, but I felt totally normal, and totally capable, and I think part of that was that I was lucky enough to grow up in a family who never defined me as disabled, they always just said ‘you’re Francesca.’

“It’s quite a rollercoaster journey – I went from a really happy kid, very loved, very confident, to you know, high school teenage hell where all that confidence was stripped away and I began to judge myself on these standards by which other people saw me, and that just made me into a shadow of myself. And then [in the show] I talk about the journey I went on getting Grange Hill, and how that really had an impact on me and restored some of my confidence, but fundamentally I was still wishing I was normal, whatever that was, and then I speak about really intense romantic encounters that totally changed my perception of what normal was and I guess the show is very much about questioning these labels, asking why they exist, who do they benefit, and ultimately the liberation of ripping them up and creating your own.

“It’s a universal show in the sense that it’s not about disability, but it’s about what it is to be human, to find self acceptance, and ultimately try and define yourself by your own values and liberate yourself from these pressures that exist within society to conform on many levels. I feel it’s quite a political question, because I think the concept of normal is used to control people and to disempower, so I’m really passionate about communicating the power you can reclaim yourself if you stick two fingers up to that idea and go, you know what, I’m going to define myself by my own means and take back control over my thoughts.”

The concept of definition is one that Martinez comes up against quite frequently in the media, being labelled as a ‘female comedian’ – a label that has slipped into common usage in the comedy world which is still, at least in terms of mainstream representation, fairly male-dominated – as well as a disabled comic.

“I find labels like that really misleading. Number one, I hate the word disabled, because it focuses on what I can’t do. It kind of perpetuates this myth that there’s a group of people who can’t do stuff and everyone else is perfect, but that’s actually really inaccurate.

“I also think it’s really disempowering to grow up having this label slapped on you and I talk about in my show how much I hate the word “cerebral palsy”, how it makes people so nervous. One of the things I say is that I’ve re-christened myself wobbly, because wobbly is a word I like, wobbly is cool, wobbly is not scary or off-putting. And it may sound really trivial – they’re words, they’re sounds – and in one way, I agree, but in another way, words really betray what we think of whatever they’re labelling, and it’s quite a big section in my show, I talk about the awful words given to disability, whereas there are other truly awful things that have quite nice names, like friendly fire. Why? Because those in power want them to sound acceptable.

“I think the way we label things is a very political area, and being a baby and having terrible sounding names slapped on you, it’s quite hard to struggle free of them and feel like you’re not a faulty piece of equipment. It’s something I struggled with for years and it’s ironic that I’m still labelled a disabled comic because from the first show I ever did I was questioning how we label each other, and in my experience the only normality there is, is difference. So these labels that try and separate people I find divisive, and in the end it just makes us all feel that there’s a secret club that we’re all trying very hard to fit into, when actually that club doesn’t exist, and a real revelatory moment was when I realised that I’d never met a normal person before. That was a really powerful moment because I thought, wow, they don’t exist. All that exists are people, and that was so nice for me, because I just felt, you know what, I’m not more different than anyone else, I’m just part of the human race.

“Where I’ve found issues [in the comedy world] is venturing into television. I think by definition TV is a more image-obsessed medium, and panel shows seem very scared of booking me – possibly because comedy and disability are not seen as natural partners. Jimmy Carr fought for months to get me onto 8 out of 10 Cats, but his producers wouldn’t have it in the end, and I think maybe it’s because [panel shows are] perceived as quite light hearted post-pub entertainment, and I think they just see me as a lump of disability that’s going to come on the show and bring the mood down.

“I think it’s quite bizarre because for the last 12 years of my career, I’ve been making those very same audiences laugh, no one’s run out of my shows screaming. I kind of understand it because I’m the first wobbly comic in the country, so naturally the doors aren’t open yet. In the same way though I do think, come on guys, what’s the worst that can happen? In live comedy there’s no grey area, people either laugh or they don’t, so I’m tested all the time. I’m only human and I do get a bit frustrated that they don’t feel like they can take the chance on me, but I also think it’s a matter of time, hopefully the more I show in my live work that I don’t induce pant-wetting fear the more likely they are to say, okay, let’s give it a go.”

Quite the opposite of inducing pant-wetting fear, Martinez says she’s been able to connect with audiences across the board.

“I do get disabled audiences, and I do perform at events for disabled people. I think it’s really refreshing for them to see someone on stage like me, because there are so few people in the media representing difference. One of the big problems is that the media could really do so much in terms of making difference seem normal, but it doesn’t.

“Funnily enough, I get written to and approached by loads of able-bodied people saying they found my show really challenging or it changed the way they thought about themselves, so it’s a real equal balance of feedback, because my show’s very much about trying to focus on the aspects of human life that we all share, and I kind of hope that my comedy would connect with and inspire anyone because I feel fundamentally we’re all dealing with the same challenges.

“I think comedy is a unique art form in that it allows you to cut through the chit chat and to just address topics, but in a really lighthearted way. One of the things when I started that I was aware of, is that you hardly ever hear from anyone different making jokes and talking about their life as a person. It’s always quite serious, or quite sad, so I was really happy that I could stand up there and humanise a scary label. It’s interesting, because some critics when I started said, oh she’s funny, but her material needs to broaden out from that issue, and I’ve always felt, it’s not an issue, I do exactly what every other comedian does, I talk about my life. Full stop.”

“I’ve always felt very passionate that while difference isn’t really covered in the mainstream, I’m going to do my best to be honest about it and share my life. I think comedy is such a perfect way to do that, because it does dispel nerves and fears very quickly. I do feel [that disability] is still the last taboo because if you look at the representation in the media, it’s next to zero, and when it is covered it’s often a very narrow depiction of people in wheelchairs. I also think maybe it’s because [the subject of disability] conjures up feelings of pity, it makes people confront questions of mortality. I understand there are complex reactions but I also feel the very solution to those feelings is exposure and relationships with all kinds of ability, because ultimately we are all people and that often gets lost if your contact is limited.

“I can understand why it’s been a difficult area for humanity to come to terms with, but I also feel like we need to deal with it. The funny thing is, disability is normal, because it’s always existed; there’s no point trying to cover it up or ignore it, it’s always going to be there. Another thing I touch upon in my show is the benefit of being different, and what it teaches you, and what it makes you confront, and I’m very grateful to my CP for teaching me certain things that made me happier. You never hear that anywhere, you just hear ‘disability’s awful’. And obviously we’ve just seen really recently, sadly with Amy Winehouse, how you can have externally everything – wealth, beauty, talent – and it doesn’t mean you’re happy or confident or together, but society tells us that is what you need to be happy. My show is very much about questioning that and proving otherwise.”

This feature was written by Caitlin Field, and originally published by The Skinny.

Francesca Martinez will be performing What The **** Is Normal?! at the Tricycle Theatre from Wednesday 6 – Sunday 9 June. Click Here for more information.