Theatre News

Shifters with Heather Agyepong and Tosin Cole to transfer to the West End

Benedict Lombe’s piece was first seen at the Bush Theatre

Tosin Cole and Heather Agyepong, © Craig Fuller
Tosin Cole and Heather Agyepong, © Craig Fuller

Benedict Lombe’s Shifters will have a nine-week season in the West End later this summer.

The Bush Theatre’s smash hit play was first seen in February where it played a sell-out run. The romantic piece tells the story of Des and Dre, who reconnect following a significant parting. In a glowing review from WhatsOnStage, it was said to “feature one kiss in particular which you’re unlikely to see the equal of onstage this year.”

Heather Agyepong (School Girls; or The African Mean Girls Play) and Tosin Cole (Doctor Who) will star once more, directed by Lynette Linton.

Shifters will have a strictly limited engagement at the Duke of York’s Theatre from 12 August to 12 October 2024. Tickets, starting at £20, are on general sale now, with 50 per cent for the first four weeks priced at £40 or under. Audiences will also have the opportunity to sit on-stage at every performance.

Lombe, a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize-winner for Lava in 2022, follows in the footsteps of Natasha Gordon and Yasmin Joseph as the third Black British female playwright to have her play staged in the West End.

She said today: “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.”

Linton added: ”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.”

The production includes 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 Deirdre O’Halloran, voice coach Joel Trill, and casting by Heather Basten. Shifters was originally commissioned by Bush Theatre, supported by the Jerwood Foundation.

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