- Film And TV
- 11 Nov 22
The original version starred David Tennant, and has been a 20-year transfer in the making.
Widely regarded as the greatest work of the playwright-slash-filmmaker (The Cripple of Inishmaan, Hangmen, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Banshees of Inisherin, In Bruges), a West End run for 2003’s dark totalitarian satire The Pillowman has been consistently elusive.
The piece will have set and costume design by Anna Fleischle, sound design by Ian Dickinson and casting by Amy Ballfur. Further casting is to be announced at a later date.
McDonagh commented: "I'm thrilled that The Pillowman is finally making its West End premiere. It's a play that's always been very close to my heart, in terms of its combination of dark comedy with its exploration of the nature of story-telling itself and the role of the artist in society. With so many personal freedoms under attack by governments and religions around the world I think it's a perfect time to put this play on.
"I am a huge admirer of both Steve Pemberton and Lily Allen - their intelligence, their wit, their fun - and having Lily play Katurian, the first time this role has been played by a woman in an English-speaking version, is just so, so exciting to me."
The original, David Tennant-starring production garnered endless acclaim at the National Theatre, but never transferred. It went on to play a season on Broadway with a starry new American cast. A West End revival has been publicly mooted by McDonagh for aeons, and was finally scheduled for 2020 with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Steve Pemberton in the cast. The pandemic cut that dream, and Taylor-Johnson’s involvement.
For the twentieth anniversary of the original production, Lily Allen is slated to finally bring it back to life.
Allen commented: "One of our most inventive playwrights, Martin McDonagh, is renowned for pushing boundaries and it's a privilege to join this show. Together with my incredible 2.22 director Matthew Dunster, I am excited to help create a production of The Pillowman that is sorely needed right now in these unprecedented times. I can't wait to bring it to life each night on stage and for audiences to get to experience it."
The second-ever British production of The Pillowman will be directed by Matthew Dunster, who has helmed most of McDonagh’s recent productions.
He also directed the smash hit 2:22 - A Ghost Story. That marked the Olivier-nominated stage debut for Lily Allen, and she’ll be back on the boards again to star as Katurian, a writer of short stories that depict violence towards children who is arrested by the totalitarian government on suspicion of a string of real-life murders.
The role was historically been played by male actors, but swapping the gender isn’t a major deal in terms of the plot. McDonagh is famously protective and picky over his cast, so the two-decade wait will hopefully be justified if he's satisfied with Lily Allen.
The Pillowman is at the Duke of York’s Theatre, Jun 10-Sep 2 2023. Tickets go on sale at noon on Friday, November 11 from here.
- Film And TV
- 30 Nov 23