Set your alarm: The Pillowman is heading to London next year.
Not to steal your cushions though… it’s the critically-acclaimed play from playwright/director and overall master of dark humour, Martin McDonagh – also known as the genius behind classics like In Bruges, the Oscar-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and his latest to generate a ton of awards buzz, The Banshees of Inisherin. The Pillowman first had its world premiere at the National Theatre a slither over 20 years ago, with David Tennant and Jim Broadbent playing the titular roles of Katurian and Tupolski, but now it’s finally being revived – and at the West End in the Duke of York’s Theatre, with Matthew Dunster sitting in the directors chair.
The Pillowman revival was actually supposed to happen back in 2020, but the pandemic (boo) came along and put paid to that. Good things come to those who wait though, and it’ll be getting a 12-week run next summer from 10th June – 2nd September. Dunster, a lauded director in his own right, is already well-versed in McDonagh’s satirical world having done Broadway shows for Hangmen and A Very Very Very Dark Matter, and he’s also fresh off nabbing a Tony Award for last year’s 2:22 – A Ghost Story.
Lily Allen (the singer, Smile etc.) was the star of that production – her very impressive stage debut saw her pick up a Tony for her performance too – and thus she’s been handpicked to play the character of Katurian; a fiction writer in a police state whose stories run a little too close to a series of disturbing child murders occurring in a nameless town. That’s the general gist of the plot (not to give too much away) and while the character of Katurian was initially intended to be a male, the gender switch won’t make a difference to how the play pans out. Steve Pemberton (The League of Gentlemen, Psychoville) will be starring as Tupolski, one of the detectives on the case.
The original Pillowman production got some pretty decent reviews – as in, many critics consider one of the best plays ever produced, and it won the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2004. So no pressure on the new cast and director to deliver the goods – but considering their pedigree and McDonagh’s seal of approval, you can safely file it under ‘must-see’. And seeing as though this is 20 years in the making and one of the most talked about shows for 2023, you can also probably expect there to be a rush for tickets.
So don’t sleep on those….
NOTE: The Pillowman plays at Duke of York’s Theatre From Saturday 10th June 2023 to Saturday 2nd September 2023. You can find out more, and get a ticket right here.
The Duke of York’s Theatre | St Martin’s Ln, London WC2N 4BG
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