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Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair

Written by William Makepeace Thackeray
Adapted by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod
Performed in English

Vanity Fair is Thackeray’s hilarious satire of Britain on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo. Beautiful Becky Sharp schemes her way up the Regency ant heap, a swarm with grotesque characters – like fat peacock Jos Sedley drunkenly cavorting in Vauxhall gardens and ancient but trendy Miss Crawley who drinks, gambles and back-bites with abandon. Thackeray dissects that corrupt era of face-powder, frivolity and self-interest before it suffocated beneath the crinoline of Victorian respectability.

Vanity Fair was first published in monthly parts in 1847–1848. Adapted for the stage from Thackeray’s novel by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod.

Produced by Cheek by Jowl. The first performance of Vanity Fair was on 10th August 1983 at the Clockhouse Community Centre, London.

“An exhilarating sense of Theatre”

The Sunday Times
Cast and creative team


Andrew CollinsMiss Pinkerton / Mr Sedley /
Rawdon Crawley / Isidor / Miss Glorvina
Martin TurnerJemma Pinkerton / Joseph Sedley /
Mr Osborne / Raggles
Amanda HarrisAmelia Sedley / Mrs Raggles
Duncan BellGeorge Osborne / Sir Pitt Crawley /
Marquis of Steyne
Simon DormandyWilliam Dobbin / Pitt Crawley /
Pauline / Lord Southdown /
Anne WhiteMrs Sedley / Miss Crawley /
Mrs Major O’Dowd / Marshioness of Steyne

Creative Team

DirectorDeclan Donnellan
DesignerNick Ormerod
Score and Musical DirectionJeremy Sans
Company Stage ManagerNick Kidd
CostumesKim Kenny
Previous performances

Previous Performances

Date (first performance)LocationNo. of performances
7 January 1985London, Donmar Warehouse, UK7
4 December 1984Norwich, Arts Centre, UK1
22 November 1984Cologne, British Council Centre, Germany1
14 November 1984Munich, Alabama–Halle, Germany6
11 November 1984Erlangan, Theatre in der Garage, Germany1
7 November 1984Cologne, British Council, Germany1
5 November 1984Dusseldorf, Schauspielhaus, Germany1
1 November 1984Stamford, Arts Centre, UK1
15 October 1984Guildford, University of Surrey, UK1
9 October 1984Pendley, Arts Centre, UK1
23 August 1984Glasgow, Tron Theatre, UK2
11 June 1984Haifa, Beit Adu Hushi, Israel3
9 June 1984Jerusalem, Gerard Behar Centre, Israel4
2 June 1984Billericay, Arts Centre, UK1
25 May 1984Warminster, Arts Centre, UK1
18 May 1984Canterbury, Gulbenkian Theatre, UK2
12 May 1984Wallingford, Corn Exchange, UK2
8 May 1984Hereford, Nell Gwynne Theatre, UK2
30 April 1984Winchester, College, UK1
28 April 1984Aversham, Robin Hood Theatre, UK1
26 April 1984Milton Keynes, Stantonbury Theatre, UK2
28 March 1984Washington, Arts Centre, UK1
22 March 1984Bangor, Theatr Gwynedd, UK3
19 March 1984High Wycombe, Town Hall, UK1
16 March 1984Southport, Arts Centre, UK1
13 March 1984Accrington, Town Hall, UK1
12 March 1984Langholm, The Academy, UK1
10 March 1984Biggar, Arts Centre, UK1
9 March 1984Stranraer, Academy, UK1
8 March 1984Gatehouse, Primary School, UK1
7 March 1984Thornhill, Wallace Hall Academy, UK1
2 March 1984Irvine, Harbour Arts Centre, UK1
1 March 1984Aberdeen, Arts Centre, UK1
29 February 1984Durham, Dunelm House, UK1
26 February 1984Chertsey, The Hall, UK1
23 February 1984Plymouth, The Drum, UK3
18 February 1984Maidstone, Hazlitt Theatre, UK1
17 February 1984Broadstairs, Hilderstone Arts Centre, UK1
15 February 1984Tunbridge Wells, Trinity Arts Centre, UK1
14 February 1984Eastbourne, Tivoli Arts Centre, UK1
9 February 1984Bracknell, Wilde Theatre, UK1
7 February 1984Runcorn, Castlefields Centre, UK2
6 February 1984Ormskirk, Civic Hall, UK1
1 February 1984Bury St Edmunds, Theatre Royal, UK4
26 January 1984Epsom, Playhouse, UK3
13 January 1984Luton, Library Theatre, UK2
17 December 1983Aylesbury, Limelight Theatre, UK1
16 December 1983Windsor, Arts Centre, UK1
15 December 1983Aldershot, West End Centre, UK1
12 December 1983Scunthorpe, Civic Theatre, UK2
8 December 1983Gt Yarmouth, St Georges, UK1
6 December 1983Basildon, Towngate Studio, UK2
3 December 1983Tamworth, Arts Centre, UK1
2 December 1983Rugby, Macready Theatre, UK1
1 December 1983Halesowen, Leasowes School, UK1
30 November 1983Kidderminster, College of FE, UK1
29 November 1983Evesham, Arts Centre, UK1
28 November 1983Stoke on Trent, Arts Project, UK1
26 November 1983Shropshire, Ellesmere Arts Centre, UK1
25 November 1983Burton upon Trent, Bass Museum, UK1
24 November 1983Hereford, Cathedral School, UK1
23 November 1983Shrewsbury, 6th Form College, UK1
22 November 1983Stafford, Gatehouse Theatre, UK1
21 November 1983Bridnorth, Theatre on the Steps, UK1
19 November 1983Skegness, Arcadia Centre, UK1
18 November 1983Louth, Cordeaux High School, UK1
17 November 1983Gainsborough, Queen Elizabeth HS, UK1
16 November 1983Humberside, Baysgarth Drama School, UK1
15 November 1983Grimsby, Whitgift Theatre, UK1
14 November 1983Withernsea, High School, UK1
11 November 1983Leicester, Pheonix Arts Centre, UK3
8 November 1983King’s Lynn, Fermoy Centre, UK2
4 November 1983Hemel Hempstead, Old Town Hall, UK2
3 November 1983Banbury, Spiceball Arts Centre, UK1
2 November 1983Basingstoke, Central Studio, UK1
31 October 1983Stevenage, Gordon Craig Theatre, UK2
28 October 1983Sudbury, Quay Theatre, UK2
25 October 1983Colchester, St Mary’s Arts Centre, UK2
25 October 1983Colchester, University Theatre, UK2
24 October 1983Bury St Edmunds, Theatre Royal, UK1
21 October 1983Boston, Blackfriars Arts Centre, UK2
19 October 1983Chipping Norton, The Theatre, UK2
13 October 1983Coleraine, Riverside Theatre, UK3
12 October 1983Omagh, Town Hall, UK1
11 October 1983Armagh, Technical College, Ireland1
8 October 1983Frome, Merlin Theatre, UK1
7 October 1983Dartingdon, Arts Centre, UK1
6 October 1983Torrington, The Plough, UK1
5 October 1983St Austell, Arts Centre, UK1
4 October 1983Bridgewater, Arts Centre, UK1
30 September 1983Whitehaven, Rosehill Theatre, UK2
28 September 1983Ambleside, CharlotteMasonCollege, UK1
27 September 1983Barrow, 6th Form College, UK1
23 September 1983Uppingham, Theatre, UK2
21 September 1983Fareham, Drama Centre, UK2
16 September 1983Oundle, Stahl Theatre, UK2
13 September 1983Sutton, Secombe Theatre, UK2
18 August 1983Edinburgh, Bedlam, UK14
10 August 1983London, Clockhouse Community Centre, UK1
Awards and reviews


Olivier Award – Most Promising Newcomer of the Year in Theatre

1985 – Cheek by Jowl for Andromache, Pericles and Vanity Fair at the Donmar Warehouse

Edinburgh Fringe First

1983 – Vanity Fair

Scottish Arts Club Writer’s Award

1983 – Vanity Fair


“An exhilarating sense of Theatre.”

The Sunday Times

“A fluid bubbling and dazzling show… one of the central theatrical experiences of the Israel Festival”

Yediot Achronot

“Ormerod designs, making much use of brilliant white as a piece for seven performers who throw the narrative between them like game of catch…Enhances the musicality and wit of the language without losing its sense of meaning; it is done with all possible lightness and speed well short of haste.”

The Observer

“Cinematic fluidity… Fidelity to the text… Worth seeing”

The Financial Times
Production photo
Photograph: John Beveridge
Production photo
Photograph: John Beveridge

“ Cinematic fluidity…
Fidelity to the text ”

The Financial Times

The one supreme and even sacred quality in Thackeray’s work is that he felt the weakness of all flesh. Wherever he sneers it is at his own potential self…

G. K. Chesterton

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