Cast announced for Describe the Night

Posted on 19 March 2018.

Posted in: Announcements

Cast announced for Describe the Night

In 1920, the Russian writer Isaac Babel reports on a Red Cavalry campaign in Poland.  In 1936, Stalin’s NKVD chief Nicolai Yezhov unleashes the Great Purge. In 1989, a mysterious KGB agent spying on a woman in Dresden falls in love.  In 2010, an aircraft carrying most of the Polish government crashes near the Russian city of Smolensk…

Hampstead Theatre presents the UK premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s Describe the Night. Directed by Lisa Spirling, this darkly comic rhapsody on Russian themes explores the blurred lines between lies, fiction and conspiracy theories, as it tracks back and forth across 90 years of Soviet and post-Soviet history in search of the genesis of the post-truth world. 

David Birrell plays Nikolai. His theatre credits include The Shadow Factory (NST City, Southampton); The Threepenny Opera; Talking Heads; Educating Rita (Bolton Octagon/Derby Theatre); The Wind in the Willows (Original Cast UK Tour); The War Has Not Yet Started (Theatre Royal Plymouth); An Enemy of the People (Bolton Octagon - Best Supporting Actor Manchester Theatre Awards); The Family Way; Journey's End (Bolton Octagon - Best Supporting Actor Manchester Theatre Awards); The Death of King Arthur (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse); Peter Pan; A Midsummer Night's Dream; Ragtime (Regent’s Park); The Last Days of Troy (Royal Exchange/Shakespeare's Globe); Sweeney Todd (West Yorkshire Playhouse/Royal Exchange - Best Actor Nominee Manchester Theatre Awards, Best Performance in a Musical Nominee Theatre Awards UK); A Little Night Music (Guildford/West End); Company (Sheffield Crucible); Passion and Grand Hotel (Donmar Warehouse); The Secret Garden; Hapgood; Peter Pan (Birmingham Rep/West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Real Thing (Salisbury Playhouse); Spamalot (Original West End Cast); Henry V (Propeller); Oh! What A Lovely War (National Theatre); The Venetian Twins; Love's Labour's Lost; Moby Dick; The Tempest; Murder in the Cathedral; Hamlet; Columbus and Romeo and Juliet (RSC). His film and television credits include Holy Flying Circus; Midsomer Murders; Buried and Angels.

Ben Caplan plays Isaac Babel. His theatre credits include The Knowledge (Charing Cross), Abigail’s Party (Theatre Royal, Bath/UK tour), Sunny Afternoon (Hampstead Theatre/West End), Hedda Gabler (Salisbury Playhouse), Shiver (Watford Palace); Playing With Grown Ups (Theatre503); A Winter's Tale; Dr. Korzcak's Example (Unicorn); Titanic (The MAC, Belfast); Seven Jewish Children (Royal Court); The Common Pursuit (Menier Chocolate Factory); Three Sisters on Hope Street (Liverpool Everyman/Hampstead Theatre); Two Thousand Years (National Theatre); The Man of the Future is Dead (Edinburgh), Hamlet (Southampton Nuffield); The Dwarfs (Tricycle), As You Like It (Oxford Playhouse) and SWEAT (Bloomsbury). His film and television credits include The Harness; The Commuter; That Woman; The Funeral; Leap Year; Rocknrolla; Midsomer Murders; Maigret; Call the Midwife; X Company; The Coroner; New Blood; The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries; Whitechapel; Dark Matters; The Runaway; Trinity; The Passion; Maxwell; The Candidate; Judge John Deed; Dwarfs; Band of Brothers; A Touch of Frost; The Perfect Blue; Soldier Soldier; Inspector Morse and Where the Heart Is.

Siena Kelly plays Urzula. Her theatre credits include A Christmas Carol (Old Vic); On the Town (Regent's Park); King Kong the Musical (workshop); Little Red Riding Hood (National Youth Ballet); Water Babies: The Musical (Curve, Leicester); Bugsy Malone (Workshop - The Lyric); West Side Story and 13 The Musical (National Youth Music Theatre). Her television credits include Vanity Fair.

Wendy Kweh plays Mariya/Mrs Petronova. Her theatre credits include Julius Ceasar (The Bridge); Snow in Midsummer (RSC); The Sugar Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie (HighTide Festival); Boy (Almeida); You For Me For You (Royal Court); Image of an Unknown YoungWoman (Gate); Chimerica (West End); Moonwalking in Chinatown (Soho); The Oresteia (National Theatre). Her film credits include Her film and television credits include Hot Hot Hot; The Blue Mansion;Silent Witness; Apocalypse Slough; Eastenders; Holby City; Coronation Street; Casualty; Murder City; The Year of the Tiger; The Crooked Man; The Bill and Doctors.

Joel MacCormack plays Feliks. His theatre credits include The Oresteia (Shakespeare’s Globe - Ian Charleson Commendation); Measure For Measure (Shakespeare's Globe); Each His Own Wilderness (Orange Tree - UK Theatre Award For Best Performance In A Play 2015); Oppenheimer and The Shoemaker's Holiday (both RSC). His film and television credits include Ready Player One, Safe House and Wolf Hall.

Rebecca O’Mara plays Yevgenia. Her theatre credits include Melt (Rough Magic); Private Lives (Gate); Helen and I (Druid); Othello (Abbey); Chekhov’s First Play (Dead Centre); Wuthering Heights (Gate); The Aristocrats (Abbey); The Vortex; Pride and Prejudice; Mrs Warren’s Profession and Hay Fever (all Gate, Dublin); Moment (Bush); Danton’s Death (National Theatre); The Yalta Game (Gate, Dublin/Edinburgh International Festival); Far from the Madding Crowd (ETT); Deep Blue Sea (Theatre Royal, Bath/Vaudeville) and Salt Meets Wound (Theatre503). Her film and television credits include Jimmy’s Hall, Red Rock; Line of Duty; The History of Mr Polly and Doctors.

Steve John Shepherd plays Vova. His theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare's Globe); Plastic (Theatre Royal, Bath); The Good Canary (Rose, Kingston); A View From Islington North (Out of Joint); Bomber's Moon (Trafalgar Studios/Park Theatre); Albion (Bush); Piaf (Donmar/Vaudeville); The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder and Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads (both National Theatre); Original Sin (Sheffield Crucible); Twelfth Night (UK tour) and Dangerous Corner (West Yorkshire Playhouse/Garrick). His film credits include Entebbe; Romance; The Best Man; Too Much Too Young; Boudicca; Spy Hole; Star Wars Episode II; Now You See Her; Me Without You; From Hell; Greenwich Mean Time; Virtual Sexuality; RPM and I Want You. His television credits include Silent Witness; Waking the Dead; Lunch Monkeys (series 1 & 2); Taggart; Bringing Down the House; Being Human; Material Girl; Plus One; Cold Blood; Bad Mother’s Handbook; Bonkers; Dalziel and Pascoe; New Tricks; Last Chancers; Real Men; Spine Chillers; The Knock; Forgive and Forget; An Unsuitable Job for a Woman; Maisie Raine (series 1 & 2); This Life (series 1 & 2); The One That Got Away; Christmas and On Expenses.

Rajiv Joseph’s play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. His play Guards at the Taj was a 2016 Obie Winner for Best New American Play and 2016 Lucille Lortel Winner for Best Play. His play Archduke, received its World Premiere this spring at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.  Other plays include Gruesome Playground Injuries, The Monster at the Door, Animals Out of Paper, The Lake Effect, The North Pool, Guards at The Taj, Mr. Wolf, and Describe the Night. Rajiv has been awarded artistic grants from the Whiting Foundation, United States Artists and the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. He is a board member of the Lark Play Development Center in New York City, where he develops all his plays. He served for three years in the Peace Corps in Senegal and now lives in Brooklyn, NY. 

Lisa Spirling is the Artistic Director of Theatre503. Her previous work at Hampstead Downstairs includes Deposit; Ken (also The Bunker); Pine; Fault Lines and I Know How I Feel About Eve. Her other theatre credits include In Event of Moone Disaster (Theatre503), Jumpy (Theatr Clwyd); Hello/Goodbye (Singapore Rep Theatre); The Nine O’Clock Slot (Ice & Fire Theatre Company/Red Gallery); Donkeys’ Years and Here (Rose, Kingston); Enron (West End Recast/UK tour); Boeing Boeing (Alley Theatre, Texas); Idiots of Ants (Pleasance, Edinburgh/Arts); Hundreds & Thousands (Buckle For Dust /ETT/Soho) and Cotton Wool (Theatre503).


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