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Shifters, Bush Theatre's smash hit play by Benedict Lombe and directed by Lynette Linton, transfers to the West End this summer

Thursday, 20 June 2024

Eleanor Lloyd Productions, Chuchu Nwagu Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions today announce that the Bush Theatre’s production of Shifters, Benedict Lombe’s intoxicating and fierce new romance will transfer to the West End this summer following a sell- out run at the Bush Theatre earlier this year.

Heather Agyepong (School Girls; or The African Mean Girls Play, Lyric Hammersmith) and Tosin Cole (Netflix’s Supacell, BBC’s Doctor Who), whose electrifying performances received critical acclaim in the original production, will reprise their roles as young lovers Des and Dre for a strictly limited season of nine weeks at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London directed by BAFTA-nominated and Evening Standard Theatre Award-winner Lynette Linton (Blues for An Alabama Sky, National Theatre; Clyde’s Donmar; August in England, Bush Theatre).

Press Night on Wednesday 21 August 2024. Previews are from Monday 12 August and tickets from £20 go on general sale at 9am on Thursday 20 June 2024, with 50% of tickets for the first four weeks available at £40 or under. Audiences will have the opportunity to experience the production from the intimacy of the stage with on-stage seating for every performance.

This epic and universal love story is about the enduring power of memory and young love. Meet Dre and Des, they are young, gifted, Black. He stayed. She left. Years later they come crashing back into each other’s lives, carrying new secrets and old scars. Caught in the space between memory and reality, they struggle to navigate the shifting borders that threaten to rewrite their past and reshape their future.

Shifters’ transfer to the Duke of York’s Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, London marks a ground- breaking moment for Benedict Lombe who follows in the footsteps of Natasha Gordon (Nine Night) and Yasmin Joseph (J’Ouvert) as the third Black British female playwright to have her play staged in the history of the West End.

Benedict Lombe (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize-winner for Lava, 2022, Bush Theatre) comments: "Shifters’ transfer is a big moment. Our dreamy, tender, unrepentantly romantic show about two lost souls finding a connection that can't be forgotten was a hit with Bush audiences. Now we get to recreate our magic on a bigger stage! I hope what Shifters does – as well as invite new audiences to fall in love with Des and Dre – is accelerate the pace for the next wave of Black British female playwrights in the West End.”

Director and Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre Lynette Linton said: ”We're incredibly proud that Shifters is moving from the Bush to the West End - our second transfer this year. At the Bush we’re all about supporting writers to build sustainable careers, and we’ve loved working with Benedict over three commissions. Benedict writes dialogue and romance in a way that no one else can, and it is my privilege to get to direct her words and reunite with Heather and Tosin. We are so excited to tell this story of Black love on such a big platform - I can't wait for audiences to discover the beauty in this tender, funny and relatable show that is the perfect summer romance.”

Heather Agyepong comments: “Shows written by Black British women or plays centering two dark skin leads often don’t reach West End stages so it really feels like we’re part of a legacy. Our stories in all their nuance and beauty have always mattered but it’s great to be on a bigger platform to allow them to shine a little brighter.”

Tosin Cole adds: “It’s an honour to have Shifters transfer to the West End. I’m really excited for a second chance to tell this amazing story and to work with this group of talented people again.”

Set and Costume Design by Alex Berry, Lighting Design by Neil Austin, Sound Design by Tony Gayle, Composition by Xana, Movement and Intimacy Direction by Shelley Maxwell, Production Dramaturg is Deirdre O’Halloran, Voice Coach is Joel Trill and Casting by Heather Basten CDG.

Shifters was originally commissioned by Bush Theatre, supported by Jerwood Foundation.

For more information and to book, click here. 

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