The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre today announces casting and releases images for its summer reopening production Out West which brings together new plays by three of the UK’s leading writers. Esh Alladi will play a young Gandhi in Tanika Gupta’s The Overseas Student, Tom Mothersdale will play new father Jack in Simon Stephens’ Blue Water and Cold and Fresh and Ayesha Antoine will play security guard Donna in Roy Williams’ Go, Girl. The production runs from 18 June to 24 July, with opening night for press on Thursday 24 June, and with an online streaming from 12 to 17 July. Out West is co-directed by the Lyric’s Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan and Diane Page, who this week received the 2021 JMK Award celebrating directors and designers with exciting creative visions. Set and costume design is by Soutra Gilmour, lighting design by Jessica Hung Han Yun and composition and sound design by Simon Slater.
Out West explores race, geography, identity, belonging and hope rooted in multicultural England of past and present, from Tanika Gupta’s The Overseas Student – a sharp and witty reimagining of Gandhi’s formative student years in Victorian England as he is awed by wealth, women, lifestyle and food; to 2020 with Simon Stephens’ Blue Water and Cold and Fresh which confronts white male privilege in the wake of city lockdown living and Black Lives Matter protests and is a heartfelt exploration of what it means to be a husband, father and son; and present day in Roy Williams’ Go, Girl – which follows Donna, who once performed for First Lady Michelle Obama at school but is now a shopping centre security guard and mum to a teenage daughter, yet she discovers her brilliance in the face of adversity in this celebratory story of Black female empowerment and everyday heroism.
The Lyric has teamed up with Inc Arts, a national collective that champions the UK’s ethnically diverse workforce, to pilot Inc Arts’ Act Against Racism campaign, alongside signing up to the online toolkit Unlock. Unlock is the UK’s first cross-sector interactive tool for measuring anti-racist progress in the creative and cultural sector and offers a choice of over 100 suggestions to help bring anti-racist commitments to life in arts workplaces. Act Against Racism is a long-term campaign to take positive anti-racist action in cultural spaces to change the way the industry works. The objectives of the campaign are to celebrate anti-racist work, provoke a sector-wide response and to hold accountability and transparency. Out West celebrates diverse stories and will include interactive audience opportunities to encourage dialogue on the content and themes of the shows through interval activities, a post-show event and up-front information on the anti-racist work that the Lyric has committed to.
The Lyric’s Free First Night scheme also returns for the production of Out West. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the scheme, a long-term partnership with the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, which has seen the Lyric give away nearly 100,000 free tickets to people who live or work locally for its first preview performances.
Esh Alladi’s recent theatre credits include a UK Theatre Award-winning performance in Hobson’s Choice at Manchester Royal Exchange, also adapted by Tanika Gupta. Out West will mark the second time Esh has taken on the role of Gandhi having previously played the Indian politician in his older years in Lions and Tigers at Shakespeare’s Globe also written by Tanika. Other theatre includes: The Argument at Theatre Royal Bath, Rutherford and Son (Sheffield Crucible), Absolute Hell, The Beaux Stratagem, Dara, From Morning to Midnight, Romeo and Juliet (National Theatre), Twelfth Night (RSC), Nell Gwynn (Shakespeare’s Globe), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (New Wolsey Theatre) and The Wind in the Willows (Birmingham Rep). For TV, he has recently finished filming for the upcoming TV series Halo based on the video game franchise. His other TV credits include Fear Fatigue/Unprecedented for Headlong, the BBC’s EastEnders, Casualty, Anthony and Apple Tree House, The Confession for ITV, and Houdini and Doyle and Frankie. Film includes The Leak, Ordinary Love, Christmas at the Palace and Backseat.
Ayesha Antoine’s theatre credits include Blank at Donmar Warehouse, Irie Jones in White Teeth at the Kiln Theatre, Rosencrantz in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s Hamlet and Connie in Red Velvet in the West End. For television, her recent roles have included Dawn in Sky One comedy In the Long Run and Polly the Healer in the Netflix series Cursed, she is also well known for playing nurse Rachel Baptiste in Holby City and previously Dee Dee Blasco in Doctor Who, Judith in Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum and Molly in The Long Song on BBC. Other TV includes Malory Towers, Pompidou, Skins, Mouth to Mouth and Poppy Silver in Grange Hill. Film includes Disney’s Artemis Fowl. Previous theatre credits also include: Life of Galileo and Trade (Young Vic), The Suicide (National Theatre), The Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes, The House That Will Not Stand (Tricycle Theatre), Napoleon Disrobed (Told by an Idiot), Dirty Great Love Story at Arts Theatre, The Ghost Train (Royal Exchange/Told by An Idiot), We Are Proud to Present (Bush Theatre), Tartuffe (Birmingham Rep), Cinderella (Theatre Royal Stratford East), The Mountaintop (Derby LIVE), Big White Fog (Almeida). Absurd Person Singular (Stephen Joseph Theatre) and My Wonderful Day (UK tour and off-Broadway).
Tom Mothersdale launched his career with roles in Peaky Blinders, Doc Martin, King Charles III and Endeavour and has continued to work extensively across stage, film and television. Recently he finished shooting Amazon’s Alex Rider Season 2 and War of the Worlds Season 2 and featured in Van Der Valk, Sky’s A Discovery Of Witches and the USA Network series Treadstone where he stars as Ferguson. Other TV Credits include Hanna, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – The Hood Maker. He can also be seen in Bad Robot’s cult film Overlord. Out West is Tom’s third time working with Simon Stephens, having previously collaborated on A Thousand Stars Explode In The Sky also at the Lyric and The Cherry Orchard at The Young Vic, for which he received an Ian Charleson award. Recently in theatre, Tom played the title role in Headlong’s Richard III, and starred in Caryl Churchil’s plays, Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp. at The Royal Court. Other theatre credits include: John (National Theatre), Oil (Almeida Theatre), The Woods (The Royal Court), Dealing With Clair (Orange Tree Theatre), Boys and The Glass Menagerie (Headlong), and Cleansed (National Theatre). Tom was listed as one of the Top 5 young actors to watch in 2019 in The Sunday Times Culture Magazine.
Out West live shows will be socially distanced for the duration of the run. All tickets are available via www.lyric.co.uk . Following Out West, the Lyric’s summer season continues with Heart of Hammersmith, its first large-scale community play, from 12-14 August created by Nicholai La Barrie and the Lyric Community Company. The autumn will include a major revival of Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane in a co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre where it runs from 03 September to 02 October before transferring to the Lyric from 09 October to 06 November, also directed by Rachel O’Riordan.
Lyric Hammersmith Theatre presents
by Tanika Gupta, Simon Stephens and Roy Williams
Co-Directed by Rachel O’Riordan & Diane Page
Designed by Soutra Gilmour
Lighting Design by Jessica Hung Han Yun
Composition and Sound Design by Simon Slater
Dates: Friday 18 June to Saturday 24 July 2021
Free First Night: Friday 18 June, 7.30pm
Press performance: Thursday 24 June, 7pm
Performance Schedule: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm (excl. Saturday 26 June), plus Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Open Captioned Performance: Saturday 10 July, 2.30pm
Audio Described Performance: Saturday 10 July, 7.30pm
Online streaming: Available to watch from Monday 12 to Saturday 17 July
Lyric Hammersmith Theatre
Lyric Square, King Street, London, W6 0QL
Box office: 020 8741 6850
Tickets from £10