WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

Complicité to stage Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Simon McBurney's adaptation will tour throughout 2023

Simon McBurney © Jorri Kristjánsson / Olga Tokarczuk © Łukasz Giza

Complicité has announced a new show, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, which will be directed by Simon McBurney.

Based on Nobel Prize winning author Olga Tokarczuk's novel of the same name, it is billed as a "scathing reproach of toxic masculinity". The book caused controversy in Tokarczuk's native Poland due to its "defiant attack on authoritarian structures". It was translated into English in 2018 by Antonia Lloyd-Jones for Fitzcarraldo Editions.

The production will open in December at Theatre Royal Plymouth (1 to 3 December 2022) ahead of a three-week run at the Bristol Old Vic (19 January to 11 February 2023).

It will then tour throughout 2023 with UK dates at Oxford Playhouse (1 to 4 March), the Barbican (15 March to 1 April), Nottingham Playhouse (4 to 8 April), Belgrade Theatre Coventry (18 to 22 April) and The Lowry (25 to 29 April) before international dates in May and June 2023 including Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Theatre Amsterdam and L'Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe, Paris.

The story unfolds through the eyes of 65 year-old local woman, Janina, who is engaged in fierce resistance against the injustices around her, and refuses to be a prisoner of society and gender. Her actions ask questions both of the male world which surrounds her and of our deeper human intentions. What does it mean to be human and what does it mean to be animal, and can we separate the two? Why is the killing of animals sport and that of humans murder?

Collaborating with McBurney on the project are set and costume designer Rae Smith, lighting designer Paule Constable, sound designer Christopher Shutt, video designer Dick Straker and dramaturgs Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre and Laurence Cook, together with Complicité's senior producer Tim Bell and executive director Amber Massie-Blomfield.

McBurney said: "Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is a tale about the cosmos, poetry, and the limitations and possibilities of activism. Tokarczuk is a prophet for our times who understands us in all our hilarity, messiness, cruelty and animalism, and it is a great privilege to bring to the stage what is surely one of literature's most urgent accounts of being alive today."