Theatre News

Ian McDiarmid to star as Enoch Powell in new play in Birmingham

The actor will star in the world premiere of Chris Hannan’s ”What Shadows”

Ian McDiarmid
Ian McDiarmid
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Olivier Award-winning actor Ian McDiarmid will star as Enoch Powell in the world premiere of a new play.

Roxana Silbert will direct the actor in Chris Hannan's What Shadows, which tells the story of Powell's "rivers of blood" speech and its effects on the community 30 years later.

Silbert said: "As we near the 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s explosive speech, I’m excited to be working once again with the brilliant Ian McDiarmid. Powell’s provocative speech was made less than half a mile away from The REP and Chris’s powerful new play is a scorching interrogation of how a divided nation can learn to speak across the divide."

McDiarmid returns to the REP following his portrayal of Galileo in A Life of Galileo in 2014. The actor is best known for his turn as Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars films and his other credits include the film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Merchant of Venice (Almeida) and Emperor and Galilean (National Theatre). He also starred in Rupert Goold's Six Characters in Search of an Author which ran at Chichester Festival Theatre and the West End.

The rest of the cast includes Rebecca Scroggs as Rose Cruickshank, George Costigan as Clem Jones, Waleed Akhtar as Saeed Mahmood, Brid Brennan as Pamela Powell, Phaldut Sharma as Sultan Mahmood and Paula Wilcox as Marjorie Jones.

What Shadows runs at Birmingham Repertory from 1 to 12 November, with previews from 27 October.