A major new revival of Martin McDonagh’s Olivier Award-winning play The Pillowman has announced casting and venue for its first West End run.
The Pillowman will play the Duke of York’s Theatre from 10 June 2023 for a strictly limited 12 week run until 2 September 2023.
The production is set to star Lily Allen and Steve Pemberton, with direction by Matthew Dunster.
Further casting is to be announced.
The Pillowman originally had its world premiere in November 2003 at the National Theatre directed by John Crowley starring David Tennant and Jim Broadbent; and opened on Broadway in April 2005 at the Booth Theatre starring Billy Crudup and Jeff Goldblum.
The Pillowman is set in a totalitarian state, where a Writer is questioned by the authorities about a spate of murders that bear similarities to her short stories. Is this life imitating art or something more sinister, in a play that examines the role of the artist in society and asks what price do we pay for freedom of expression.
Martin McDonagh said in a press statement: “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. With such a strong cast, and Matthew at the helm once again, I can’t wait to be part of it.”
Lily Allen said: “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.”
Steve Pemberton said: “As a huge fan of Martin McDonagh’s writing, I’m delighted that The Pillowman is heading to the West End next year. I can’t wait to help bring this blisteringly dark and funny play to life and I’m honoured to be working with such an exciting creative team.”
Joining Matthew Dunster on the creative team are Set and Costume Designer Anna Fleischle, the Lighting Designer is Neil Austin, Sound Designer, Ian Dickinson for Autograph and Casting is by Amy Ball.
The Pillowman is produced by Empire Street Productions (Prima Facie).
Martin McDonagh is an acclaimed writer for stage and film. His theatre work include Olivier Award-winning Hangmen, which ran successfully in the West End and on Broadway; The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara, The Lonesome West, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Cripple of Inishmaan, A Behanding in Spokane and A Very Very Very Dark Matter.
McDonagh recently won the Best Screenplay Award at the Venice Film Festival for his new film The Banshees of Inisherin, is also the multi Olivier, BAFTA and Academy Award-winning playwright and screen-writer responsible for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths and Six Shooter.
Lily Allen, who made her West End debut in 2:22 – A Ghost Story at the Noel Coward Theatre in a role for which she was awarded Best Female-Identifying Role in a Play at the Whatsonstage Awards and Olivier nominated, will play Katurian, the first time the role has been played by a woman. Next year Allen is set to star star in new Sky original comedy Dreamland, and she is also an internationally renowned singer and songwriter.
Steve Pemberton is a member of The League of Gentlemen with Reece Shearsmith, Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson. He co-wrote and appeared in Psychoville and Inside No. 9 for which he won the BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance in 2019. His other television credits include: Killing Eve, Good Omens, Worzel Gummidge, Doctor Who, Benidorm, Blackpool, Shameless, Whitechapel, Happy Valley and Mapp and Lucia. His stage work includes playing Mr Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer at the National Theatre. Steve will play Tupolski.