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The Lightning Child - Shakespeare's Globe

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE FINAL new work in the Globe’s 2013 Season of Plenty is The Lightning Child, a radical new remix of Euripides’ The Bacchae. It runs at the Bankside venue from September 18 (previews from September 14) to October 12, 2013.

The Lightning Child hurtles from the ecstatic, primal, musical roots of Ancient Greek tragedy to the squats and shooting galleries of contemporary London.

A diverse cast of real and imagined characters – including Billie Holiday, Neil Armstrong, Caster Semenya, heroin addicts Drax and Shug, virtuoso viola-player Louisa and a pitbull terrier named Cleopatra – explore universal themes of sex, power, envy and retribution.

Meanwhile, intoxicated worshippers gather in pre-Christian Africa to honour the god Dionysus with orgiastic rites, much to the disgust of the prudish king Pentheus…

The Lightning Child is written by Ché Walker, composed by Arthur Darvill and directed by Matthew Dunster – the same team that brought The Frontline to the Globe in 2008, the first contemporary play ever to be staged within the wooden O. This anarchic and highly original production won widespread critical acclaim and was revived the following year with Zawe Ashton.

The cast of The Lightning Child comprises Moyo Akandé, Veronique Andre, Sheila Atim, Geoff Aymer, Bette Bourne, Jonathan Chambers, Tommy Coleman, Phil Cumbus, Harry Hepple, Coral Messam, Jess Murphy, Colin Ryan, Clifford Samuel, Cat Simmons, Clemmie Sveaas, Lucia Tong and Finty Williams.

Ché Walker is a playwright, director, actor and drama teacher based in Camden, London. He has won a Peter Brook Award for his plays Crazy Love and Burnt Up Love and been nominated for an Evening Standard Award for his musical Been So Long at the Young Vic. His other writing credits include Flesh Wound (Royal Court Theatre), Mashup! (Embassy Theatre) and Iphigenia (Southwark Playhouse).

His directing credits include The Big Nickel (Soho Theatre), Car Thieves (National Theatre) and In Walks Ed (Old Vic). Walker also teaches drama at RADA, the Royal Court, Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution and the homeless charity Centrepoint.

Arthur Darvill is currently delighting Broadway audiences as The Guy in the Tony-Award winning musical Once, having shot to fame as Rory Williams in the BBC TV series Doctor Who. His other TV credits include Broadchurch, The White Queen and Little Dorrit. He has composed music for the Bush Theatre and worked closely with Ché Walker on the musical adaptation of Been So Long. As well as composing the score for The Frontline, he has appeared onstage at the Globe as Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus.

Matthew Dunster is a director, playwright and actor. His production of Love and Money by Dennis Kelly was nominated for an Olivier Award. His previous directing credits include his production of You Can Still Make A Killing (Southwark Playhouse), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Theatre), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Royal Exchange, Manchester) and Mogadishu (Lyric Hammersmith). His recent writing credits include Children’s Children (Almeida Theatre) and 1984 (Royal Exchange, Manchester). Dunster is an Associate Artist at the Young Vic.

Tickets: £5 – £39 – available by phone on 020 7401 9919, in person at the box office – Monday to Saturday 10am – 6pm (8pm on performance days), Sundays 10am – 5pm (7pm on performance days) – and online at