The Knight
of the Burning Pestle

The Knight
of the Burning Pestle

“A blaze of life and theatre”

Télérama

Written by Francis Beaumont
Performed in Russian with surtitles
Running time 1 hour 40 minutes, no interval
2019

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).

Tickets

DateLocationTickets
4 August 2019Gdańsk, Gdański Teatr Szekspirowski, PolandTickets
24-26 September 2019Toulouse, Théâtre de la Cité, France Tickets
18-19 October 2019Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, RussiaTickets
9-10 November 2019Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Russia Tickets
Cast and creative team

Cast

NameCharacter
Alexander FeklistovGrocer
Agrippina SteklovaGrocer’s wife
Nazar SafonovRafe
Sergei MillerVenturewell
Anna VardevanianLuce
Kirill ChernyshenkoJasper
Andrei KuzichevHumphrey
Alexei RakhmanovMr Merrythought
Anna KarmakovaMrs Merrythought
Danila KazakovMichael
Kirill SbitnevTim

Creative Team

RoleName
DirectorDeclan Donnellan
DesignerNick Ormerod
Lighting designerAlexander Sivaev
ComposerPavel Akimkin
ChoreographerIrina Kashuba
Assistant directorIgor Teplov
Previous performances

Previous Performances

DateLocation
16 January–2 February 2019Sceaux, Les Gémeaux, Paris, France
13–15 March 2019Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Russia
30 March 2019Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Russia
24-28 April 2019Madrid, Centro Dramático Nacional, Spain
21–22 May 2019Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Russia
5-8 June 2019London, Barbican, UK
27 June 2019 Moscow, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Russia
Reviews

Reviews

France

“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

Russia

“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

Spain

“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

UK

“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

Production photo
The Company. Photograph: Johan Persson.
Production photo
The Company. Photograph: Johan Persson.
Production photo
Andrei Kuzichev and Anna Vardevanian. Photograph: Johan Persson.

“Exhilarating”

Les Inrockuptibles

“A whirlwind anthem to theatre
and why we need it now.”

Le Figaro

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