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Casting and dates announced for The Divide at The Old Vic

Casting news

THE Divide, a new play by Alan Ayckbourn, will open at The Old Vic on February 3, 2018 with previews from January 30, 2018, following its premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival this summer.

The Divide is a tale for our own turbulent times that unflinchingly explores a dystopian society of repression, insurrection and forbidden love. Directed by Annabel Bolton, an associate director of The Old Vic, it will be presented in two parts.

The Divide is set in the aftermath of a deadly contagion which, a century from now, has decimated the English population and rendered contact between men and women fatal. Under the dictates of an elusive Preacher, an unthinkable solution is enforced. Separated by the Divide, the adult survivors are segregated by gender, as men wear white as a mark of their purity, and women – still infected – are clothed in black as a sign of their sin.

Brother and sister Elihu (Jake Davies) and Soween (Erin Doherty) grow up learning the ways of their tightly controlled society. As they begin to glimpse the cracks in the system, Elihu falls for Giella (Weruche Opia), the daughter of two radical mothers, risking fatal disease and threatening to ignite a bloody revolution.

The Divide is a vision of a dystopian future defined by brutal repression and forbidden love.

The Divide runs at the King’s Theatre as part of the Edinburgh International Festival from August 8 to August 20, 2017, before opening at The Old Vic in January 2018.

The Old Vic has a long history with the International Festival, having performed at the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and many times in the following decade. This collaboration with EIF is the first of several brokered by The Old Vic to mark the bicentenary of the theatre in 2018.

Matthew Warchus said: “Alan Ayckbourn is of course famous for his domestic tragi-comedies. It is perhaps overlooked the extent to which he is a great and perpetual experimenter with form. He has plays which run backward through time, where an exit from one play becomes an entrance into another, where one beginning has sixteen possible endings, even plays which take place simultaneously on two different stages. Now as he turns 78 he delivers an extraordinary piece of writing which arguably may not even be a play – The Divide – described on its title page as “a dramatic narrative for voices”.

“The Old Vic was in residence 70 years ago at the very first Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and The Old Vic celebrates its 200th birthday in 2018 and it’s with great pleasure and hugely fitting that we celebrate our respective milestones by collaborating again to co-produce the world premiere of Alan’s ambitious and exciting new work, .”

Jake Davies’ recent theatre credits include Beautiful Thing (Arts Theatre), Barbarians (Soho Theatre), Yen (Royal Court/Manchester Royal Exchange), Friend or Foe, The Good Person of Szechuan (Mercury Theatre Colchester) and Something For The Winter (Southwark Playhouse). Screen credits include Black Mirror, The Missing II, Silent Witness, Cyber Bully, A Mother’s Son, Call the Midwife, Holby City and Bad Education (TV); Ghost Stories, Pregnant Pause, X+Y, Leave to Remain and Vengeance (film).

Erin Doherty’s theatre credits include Lights Out (Royal Court), Wish List (Royal Court/Manchester Royal Exchange), Junkyard, The Glass Menagerie (UK Tour), Who Cares (The Lowry) and Pink Mist (Bristol Old Vic). She is best known for her role in the television series Call the Midwife.

Weruche Opia’s theatre credits include The Trial (Young Vic), Liberian Girl (Royal Court), The Waiting Room, For Coloured Girls, The Inheritors (National Theatre Nigeria) and Shakespeare Sonnets (Shakespeare’s Globe). On screen, she is best known for playing Cleopatra in the television series and film Bad Education. Other television credits include Inside No.9, Banana, Suspects, Top Boy and The Bill. She has also appeared in the film When Love Happens.

The cast also includes Clare Burt (as Hork), Thusitha Jayasundera (Kest), Richard Katz (Conrad), Joanne McGuiness (Axi), Sophie Melville (Sassa), Clare Lawrence Moody (Desollia), Martin Quinn (Fergo), Letty Thomas (Ensemble), Sian Thomas (Older Soween) and Finty Williams (Chayza).

2017 marks Alan Ayckbourn’s 56th year as a theatre director and his 58th as a playwright. His work has been translated into over 35 languages, and has been performed on stage and television throughout the world. He is perhaps best known for his plays Relatively Speaking, How the Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval and The Norman Conquests.

The Divide is directed by Annabel Bolton, Associate Director of The Old Vic, designed by Laura Hopkins and composed by hristopher Nightingale, with lighting by David Plater, sound by Bobby Aitken and video design by Ash J Woodward.

NB: Casting is confirmed for Edinburgh International Festival. Casting for The Old Vic performances in 2018 is subject to change.

The Old Vic dates: January 30 to February 10, 2018.

The world premiere of Girl from the North Country runs at The Old Vic from July 12 to October 7, 2017.