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In London’s (Off) West End 2020: A triptych at The Old Red Lion featuring Nuclear War by Simon Stephens with Buried and Graceland (Preview)


LONDON – Revitalising the creative and cultural integrity of The Old Red Lion, newly appointed Artistic Director Alexander Knott presents a thought-provoking triptych, spearheaded by the first revival of Nuclear War from the multi-award-winning Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time adaptation, Sea Wall, and Heisenberg).

Stephens’ text is accompanied by two premiere productions from emerging talent, Buried by David Spencer and Graceland by Max Saunders-Singer. These plays find commonality in the exploration of human suffering and how we survive the unimaginable, resonating with today’s fraught social divisions in a not-so-United Kingdom.

Alexander Knott comments: “Being able to stage the first revival of Nuclear War by Simon Stephens, which was something of a cult smash when it premiered at the Royal Court, is going to be a thrilling and cathartic theatrical experience. I believe that this triptych of plays, when brought together, will tell the story of human endurance in the face of the insurmountable, and hopefully engage and galvanise a new audience for the theatre, on a fringe level.”

The experimental and physically charged Nuclear War will be directed by Knott in his
directorial debut at The Old Red Lion. Stephens’ suggestive open text acts as a stimulus for interpretation, creating a revival far removed from the initial premiere at the Royal Court. It is a  heart-breaking and soul-stopping movement piece about a woman who needs to experience everything life has to offer, in order to feel something again.

Buried is the harrowing true story of Max Spencer, who was buried alive in World War II, written by his son David Spencer and performed by his real-life grandson, James Demaine. This intergenerational and groundbreaking anti-war play is a truthful examination of the human condition.

Rounding off the triple-bill is the darkly comic Graceland, a monologue from an overworked and harassed science teacher who is one small spark away from combustion. Pushed to the edge, and with his personal life unravelling, there’s a looming darkness in the classroom.

TV regular Anthony Cozens (Doctor WhoSherlock and The Last Kingdom, BBC) will take to the stage in the darkly comic Graceland, alongside an exciting intergenerational staging of Buried, the true story of a man buried alive, played by the real-life grandson, James Demaine. Joining them will be actors Zöe Grain (Oneness, Southwark Playhouse) and Freya Sharp (Cockroached, Pleasance) in the first revival of the soul-stopping Nuclear War by the multi-award winning Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeSea Wall, and Heisenberg).

Following the current trend of ‘box-set theatre’, the triptych is a new model for the venue, using a world-renowned playwright to support emerging talent, building a new way of seeing and supporting new writing.

Nuclear War, Buried & Graceland play from 3rd to 21st March 2020 at The Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John St, Islington, London EC1V 4NJ. Tickets available here

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