“A whirlwind anthem to theatre
and why we need it now.”
of the Burning Pestle
Written by Francis Beaumont
Performed in Russian with surtitles
Running time 1 hour 40 minutes, no interval
Cheek by Jowl reunites with the Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre on Francis Beaumont’s subversive and darkly funny play within a play. The Knight of the Burning Pestle is a breath-taking comedy, hilarious and terrifying in its relevance to a post-expert world where everyone can be famous and anyone can write the story.
‘The London Merchant’ begins, a thoughtful drama about dysfunctional families. But suddenly, from the audience, a grocer and his wife clamber onto the stage and politely explain to the astonished actors that they are a little bit bored and wouldn’t it be better to cheer the evening up with exotic locations and a Knight – indeed their apprentice grocer Rafe is just the man for the job.
Rafe is duly arrayed as the Knight of the Burning Pestle and his chivalric adventures are played out while the domestic drama of the London Merchant struggles towards its conclusion, chronically interrupted by the grocer and his wife who surprisingly get highly involved with its gritty, unpredictable narrative.
Beaumont’s subversive meta-drama burst onto the stage in 1607, at a critical moment when theatre was threatened by a popular movement increasingly hostile to art and culture. A disturbing comedy centuries ahead of its time, it subtly asks questions all the more relevant today: what is art for? Who is art for?
Produced by Cheek by Jowl and Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre in a co-production with the Barbican, London; Les Gémeaux/Sceaux/Scène Nationale; Centro Dramático Nacional, Madrid (INAEM).
“A blaze of life and theatre”Télérama
We are sad to announce that the scheduled performances in Bergen, Norway and Sibiu, Romania have been postponed due to ongoing international measures adopted around the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
|Agrippina Steklova||Grocer’s wife|
|Alexei Rakhmanov||Mr Merrythought|
|Anna Karmakova||Mrs Merrythought|
|9-10 November 2019||Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Russia|
|18-19 October 2019||Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Russia|
|24-26 September 2019||Toulouse, Théâtre de la Cité, France|
|4 August 2019||Gdańsk, Gdański Teatr Szekspirowski, Poland|
|16 January–2 February 2019||Sceaux, Les Gémeaux, Paris, France|
|13–15 March 2019||Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Russia|
|30 March 2019||Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Russia|
|24-28 April 2019||Madrid, Centro Dramático Nacional, Spain|
|21–22 May 2019||Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Russia|
|5-8 June 2019||London, Barbican, UK|
|27 June 2019||Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Russia|
Best Show of the Season 2019Moskovskiy Komsomoletc Newspaper
Best Production 2019Crystal Turandot Awards
“Simple and wild direction… Diabolical tempo… Radical…A blaze of life and theatre.”Télérama Read the full review
“Irresistible…A whirlwind anthem to theatre and why we need it now”Le Figaro Read the full review
“Exhilarating”Les Inrockuptibles Read the full review
“Virtuoso cast”Les Echos
“Witty, joyous, never before have we seen such a collision of traditional and modern art!”MK
“Donnellan grasps something in Russia that we, being inside, just don’t notice – this is why, as always, he hits the nail right on the head”Rossiyskaya Gazeta
“Touched by grace…Donnellan gives free rein to the Russian actors, all magnificent”El País Read the full review
“Pure fun, pure enjoyment”ABC Read the full review
“Imagination and perfection”El Mundo Read the full review
“A magnificent and versatile cast…Extraordinary”El Cultural Read the full review
“Brilliant and festive…The audience melted with pleasure at Cheek by Jowl and its acclaimed Russian company”Periodista Digital Read the full review
“Cultural sabotage of the wittiest kind…performed by a crack Russian cast”The Telegraph Read the full review
“The Russian company is dizzyingly skilful”The Stage Read the full review
“Audacious and bewitching”The Times
“Freshly modern, polemic and truly hilarious”Theatre Weekly Read the full review
“a wonderful, mad night”What’s On Stage Read the full review