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I am extremely excited about Nakamitsu. It is forming into a brilliant piece of theatre.

It combines a tragic epic story, song, dance, music, and many of the spectacles that theatre can be. I am proud of it and the whole company.

It has a life or death decision, a samurai sword and a big drum. All in an hour. Who would want to miss that?!

If you are about in London, May 24 to June 16. Please come.

Guardian guide preview here.


The Gate Theatre presents


in a new version by Benjamin Yeoh

24 May – 16 June

Directed by Jonathan Munby & Michael Ashcroft

Design by Mike Britton
Lighting by Hartley T A Kemp
Sound by Paul Arditti
Original Music Composed & Performed by Ansuman Biswas

Cast Peter Bankolé, Matthew Burgess, Richard Clews & Daniel Williams

Ignited by a sudden act of violence, Nakamitsu must make a choice: love versus honour. From the shadows of a seedy underworld, his story unfolds. East and West collide in a startling new version of this classic Noh play, often attributed to Zeami. Benjamin Yeoh’s adaptation of Nakamitsu is a modern ensemble piece performed with live music by Ansuman Biswas.

Nakamitsu is winner of the Gate Theatre & Oberon Books Translation Award 2006. This award was set up to encourage and reward the vital contribution translation and adaptation makes to international theatre. The judges for the 2006 award were Samuel Adamson (playwright and translator), Penny Black (playwright and translator), Jack Bradley (former literary manager of the National Theatre), Simon Callow (actor, writer, director), Christopher Hampton (director, writer and translator), Nell Leyshon (playwright), and Jatinder Verma (Artistic Director of Tara Arts).

Performances 24 May – 16 June

Mon– Thurs at 7:30pm, Fri 7:00 & 9:00pm, Sat 5:00 & 7:30pm

Tickets: £15 | £10

Happy Mondays: a limited number of seats are pay what you can on the door

BOX OFFICE 020 7229 0706

Critics: dead white men

Nick Hytner seems to have sparked off a debate about British theatre critics by calling them dead white men.

Of course, this isn’t exactly accurate although hints at some underlying truths. There are more older male critics than younger or female ones.

I’ve found Lyn Gardener’s and Susannah Clapp’s comments more interesting.

Lyn makes the point that she goes to see a wider range of theatre than the first-string theatre critics who mainly sees London-centric main shows. This means that a second strong critic has a wider range of theatre vocabulary and importantly, current theatre vocabulary, to draw from in drawing opinions about plays.

Clapp writes:

A Matter of Life and Death, which tells its tale not only in dialogue, but with songs and mime and aerialism, is an example of movement theatre, which until now has been mostly seen on the Fringe, where it has regularly disproved the idea that theatre audiences are always over 40. I’ve had some of my best experiences in the theatre watching it. Over at the Telegraph, Charles Spencer has had some of his worst.

I also believe not only is this newer theatre practise great for British theatre. I think it is flowing through to our young and new (and more established) writers. Both Polly Stenham and Mike Bartlett recently at the Court and a whole host of other writers eg (off the top of my head) Tom Morton-Smith,  Duncan Macmillan and the more experienced Dennis Kelly, Chloe Moss, Rebecca Lenkiewicz are developing, have developed exceptional theatrical voices (and I remain forever jealous at that, struggling with my own writing voice….). With the recent change in artistic directors in some of the new writing theatre, I expect to see still more and from some of our “forgotten” but very much living greats like Philip Ridley, whose Leaves of Glass at the Soho has been a welcome commission.

I suppose I am saying, ever onwards and forwards, not backwards. Theatre and art marches on with its history. We can never truly recreate Shakespeare (although we can reinvent it for modern times). Shakespeare was created in reaction to its time and place, and position in cultural history. We can create a theatre of today, whether dead white men appreciate it or not.

Speed Death

Another person’s work who I will be positively bias about is Chris Goode, who also writes a wiser and more insightful blog than mine.

Goode has a new piece going on at the Plymouth Drum. See here. It’s called Speed Death of the Radiant Child.

I really want to see it but like the May Queen I can’t make the logistics work, between rehearsals for Nakamitsu, day job and life.

Kiss of Life was one of the most uplifting plays I’ve seen dealing with amongst other matters, the interconnectedness of being. It was brilliant.

I feel all the poorer as I remember what Gideon Lester once told me and I’ve tried to take to heart and I paraphrase:

“Theatre is a live art, so if you hear about a performance that you truly want to see and it is across the otherside of the world, then you must fly over to see it because the performance will not last forever but it may live on in your mind for the rest of your life”


Update: I’ve managed to squeeze in a booking. It’s about 3 to 3.5 hours on the train from London. But luckily I like train journeys.

May Queen

I expect that if you read this, you will also know Stephen Sharkey’s blog.

But as he is not going to blow his own trumpet, I will do so for him.

His work and the production gets some great reviews:

The Times here.

Guardian here.

Stage here.

I really wanted to go but I can’t make the logisitics work between rehearsals and day job. If you can make it, I recommend it but of course I’m bias.

Bristol Old Vic going dark…

There’s an awful lot of debate, speculation and many angry people pointing fingers about this.

Lyn Gardner wrote a piece and it has attracted many comments. See here.

I don’t know the full story, but having some experience at board level I know there are many difficult matters to balance and that to a large extent you have to trust that your creative team will deliver.

However, now the decision has been taken if people want the BOV to flourish, then they do need to rally round and help it restructure rather than recriminate.

Looking forward is often harder than looking back.

Punch Drunk: The Masque of the Red Death

For those of you who liked Faust. And I definitely loved it.

Start booking now for their next production. It’s selling out already. Especially the party nights…

“Journey into a macabre world and explore the four corners of Battersea Arts Centre’s Old Town Hall as Punchdrunk immerses the entire site in Poe’s imagination. Inspired by the classic short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, The Masque of the Red Death is an indoor promenade performance lasting up to 3 hours, with two entry times at 7.15pm and 7.45pm . Evening dress is optional . On Friday and Saturday nights tickets for The Masque of The Red Death include entry into Red Death Late Nights, an after-show party with live music, dancing and surprise mystery guests.”

I’m hearing that they are taking over the whole of the BAC and transforming the old town hall like you’ve never seen it before.

Given what they made of an old warehouse, an old town hall should be very exciting.

See you at the party!

Book via National Theatre link or BAC 020 7223 2223

Theatre under Blair

Michael Billington argues here that

“The real significance of the Blair decade is that theatre has regained its old political bite.”

Of course MB tends to views his theatre through a lens of political and social commentary which for instance, Lyn Gardner doesn’t tend to do.

On first thought, I can’t exactly link what difference the Blair decade has made. True, there does seem to be some more political theatre but is that truly Blair’s biggest effect?

Does theatre trundle on more or less regardless to its government? Does theatre only become interesting in opposition to some form of oppression?

Thoughts welcome.

Nakamitsu: Free tickets for blogggers

I asked my nice producer and she said yes.

No, I’m not marrying her. I did it, for you.

She says bloggers can have free tickets to see my play, Nakamitsu (as if you didn’t know). How is the night of May 29 (before “press” night) ? You’ve got to be more important than “press”, non?

Obviously, there is an expectation of a blog mention, but hey if you don’t like it or don’t want to then you don’t have to.

Mondays have pay as much as you can/want tickets if you are feeling broke or can’t make the May 29.

And for those who get restless, I reckon the play will be over in 45 minutes, although they are still rehearsing so it could be shorter!

Email / comment me if you are interested and I’ll pass your details on to the producer and I hope to see you at the play. Or more importantly in the pub below.


  • About me

    I'm a playwright and investment analyst. I have a broad range of interests: food, gardening, innovation & intellectual property, sustainability, architecture & design, writing and the arts. I sit on the board of Talawa Theatre Company and advise a CIS investment trust on socially responsible investments.

  • Recent Work

    Recent plays include, for theatre: Nakamitsu, Yellow Gentlemen, Lost in Peru, Lemon Love. For radio: Places in Between (R4), Patent Breaking Life Saving (WS).

  • Nakamitsu

  • Yellow Gentlemen