A HAMPSTEAD THEATRE WORLD PREMIERE

RAVENS: SPASSKY vs. FISCHER

By TOM MORTON-SMITH
Directed by ANNABELLE COMYN

Running time: 2 HOURS AND 45 MINUTES WITH AN INTERVAL

The Cold War is still a war. Soft power is still power. You’re out here playing by the rules … they’re out here playing to the crowd

Main Stage

Choose a date and select your own seats online

29 Nov 2019 - 18 Jan 2020

Box Office: 020 7722 9301

'An intriguing story... Robert Emms plays Fischer excellently' | The Guardian
'Gripping… A riveting central performance by Robert Emms enhances this compelling… Cold War face-off' | Evening Standard 
'Ronan Raftery is quietly impressive' | Evening Standard
'Arresting…an elegant study of pressure and paranoia' | ★★★★ The Stage
'Electrifying… Fascinating… There is a whole lot to enjoy about Annabelle Comyn’s slick and dynamic production' | Time Out
'Impressive... Appallingly relevant now' | ★★★★ Broadway World


 

Reykjavik, 1972. All eyes are on Iceland ahead of ‘the Match of the Century’: Boris Spassky vs. Bobby Fischer in the World Chess Championship.  Never before in chess history has a tournament attracted such global media attention.  And for the two contenders, Spassky the World Champion and the maverick superstar Fischer, the stakes have never been higher – not only the world title, but unprecedented prize money and stratospheric fame are all on the table. 

But as the Cold War begins to heat up, each side of the Atlantic spots a major opportunity to demonstrate superiority over the other. So why hasn’t America’s knight in shining armour shown up? And why won’t Russia’s grandmaster listen to orders?  As the two superpowers prepare their opening gambits in a proxy battle of ideologies, with sport as the weapon of choice, both sides find themselves undermined by their pawns, who seem oddly unwilling to cooperate…

Tom Morton-Smith’s gripping psychological thriller depicts a match that became a signature event of the Cold War, exploring how two very different individuals were co-opted to stand for contrasting political systems.  

Tom makes his Hampstead Theatre debut following his critically acclaimed hit, Oppenheimer (RSC / West End).

Annabelle Comyn is the award-winning Artistic Director of Hatch Theatre Company. Her directing credits include Asking for It (The Abbey Theatre) and Look Back in Anger (The Gate Theatre).

Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer has been kindly supported by Erin Bell & Michael Cohen.

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  • The Stage

    'Ravens: Spassky vs Fischer is a taut and cerebral character study.'

    'If author Tom Morton-Smith tells the tale with deep... detail, director Annabelle Comyn’s muscular staging injects it with energy, punctuating key scenes with arresting movement work that effectively dramatises the unfolding matches. Chairs are aggressively swivelled, glasses of orange juice are competitively consumed in brief but breathless stylised dances.'

    '...the large supporting cast successfully fills out the grand scope of the story... Solomon Israel plays a memorably Machiavellian Henry Kissinger, while Gary Shelford adds some deadpan levity as softly-spoken Icelandic policeman Saemi-Rokk.'

    'Controversial challenger Bobby Fischer comes off badly: an arrogant, infantile diva, simultaneously paranoid and entitled. Robert Emms plays the part with extraordinary ferocity, stamping about the space alternately gloating, throwing tantrums or railing violently against life’s unfairness.'

    'On the other side of the board, Ronan Raftery starts out calm and dignified as defending champion Boris Spassky, determined but ultimately unable to stay above the political quagmire.'

    'Jamie Vartan’s set captures the period with a few impeccable design choices... A cluster of boxy grey TV sets keep score as the tournament wears on, the screens clouding with static to underline the palpably building tension.'

    Ravens: Spassky vs Fischer review at Hampstead Theatre, London – ‘an elegant study of pressure and paranoia’
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  • Broadway World

    'Tom Morton-Smith's new play tells its tale, shedding light on that manifestation of the Cold War and saying plenty about the new politics of conspiracy theorists, alternative facts and the absence of trust. The polyester suits and beige-grey interiors say 1972, but plenty jumps 47 years to be appallingly relevant now.'

    'Both principals give fine, committed performances, Emms burning energy at a ferocious rate. There's strong support too from the players' seconds and minders, and the poor Icelandic and FIDE saps who have to cope with the two adolescents in men's bodies. Simon Chandler is particularly impressive in his cameo as FIDE President, lamenting the absence of fundamental trust required to make any collaborative activity (chess, politics) work, and Gary Shelford does a good job with his down-to-earth Icelandic minder, the only person with whom Fischer appears to bond.'

    BWW Review: RAVENS: SPASSKY VS FISCHER, Hampstead Theatre
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Artistic team

WRITER

TOM MORTON-SMITH

DIRECTOR

ANNABELLE COMYN

DESIGNER

JAMIE VARTAN

LIGHTING

HOWARD HARRISON

COMPOSER AND SOUND

PHILIP STEWART

VIDEO

JACK PHELAN

MOVEMENT

MIKE ASHCROFT

CASTING

JULIET HORSLEY CDG

Cast

RAVENS: SPASSKY vs. FISCHER: ★★★★ FROM THE STAGE

Posted on 6 December 2019

Dave Fargnoli awards Tom Morton-Smith's 'Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer' four stars.

RAVENS: SPASSKY VS. FISCHER - PRESS NIGHT PHOTOS

Posted on 6 December 2019

Thursday 5 December brought Press Night for Tom Morton-Smith's psychological Cold War thriller Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer, directed by Annabelle Comyn.

RAVENS: SPASSKY vs. FISCHER: ★★★★ FROM BROADWAY WORLD

Posted on 6 December 2019

Gary Naylor awards Tom Morton-Smith's 'Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer' four stars.

'SPASSKY VS FISCHER: HOW THE CHESS BATTLE BECAME A THEATRE EVENT' ON BBC ONLINE

Posted on 5 December 2019

Vincent Dowd from the BBC on Tom Morton-Smith's Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer.

WHATSONSTAGE INTERVIEWS ROBERT EMMS

Posted on 2 December 2019

Robert Emms speaks to WhatsOnStage about his role in Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer.

RADIO 3'S FREE THINKING INTERVIEWS TOM MORTON-SMITH

Posted on 27 November 2019

Rana Mitter speaks to Raven: Spassky vs. Fischer playwright Tom Morton-Smith on Radio 3's Free Thinking programme.

IRISH WORLD INTERVIEWS RONAN RAFTERY

Posted on 27 November 2019

Ronan Raftery speaks to David Hennessy from Irish World about Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer.

FINANCIAL TIMES INTERVIEWS TOM MORTON-SMITH

Posted on 21 November 2019

Sarah Hemming interviews Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer writer Tom Morton-Smith

HAM AND HIGH INTERVIEWS RONAN RAFTERY

Posted on 14 November 2019

Bridget Galton interviews Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer star Ronan Raftery.

A Q&A WITH... RAVENS: SPASSKY VS FISCHER'S RONAN RAFTERY AND ROBERT EMMS

Posted on 8 November 2019

We caught up with Raven: Spassky vs Fischer's Ronan Raftery (Boris Spassky) and Robert Emms (Bobby Fischer) to discuss playing real people, the Berlin theatre scene and putting chess on stage...

FULL CAST ANNOUNCED FOR RAVENS: SPASSKY VS. FISCHER

Posted on 24 October 2019

We're thrilled to announce the cast for the World Premiere of Tom Morton-Smith's Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer, directed by Annabelle Comyn, including Ronan Raftery as Boris Spassky and Robert Emms as Bobby Fischer.

NEW SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT

Posted on 23 July 2019

Ahead of its 60th Birthday, Hampstead Theatre announces Roxana Silbert’s inaugural season as Artistic Director

2019 New Season Offer

Posted on 23 July 2019

For a limited time only, you can see all four new Main Stage productions in Roxana Silbert's debut season for the price of three - yes, see one show entirely for free!

Roxana Silbert's Debut Season: Statement

Posted on 23 July 2019

‘I am excited to introduce my debut season as Artistic Director of Hampstead Theatre.

Previews, Mondays and matinees 
Full price: £30/£27/£18
Under 30s/Students: £15/£10
Seniors* (matinees only): £25/£20
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
Access: £16

*Ages 60+

Tuesday – Saturday evenings 
Full price: £37/£32/£25
Under 30s/Students: £15/£10
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
Access: £16

All prices are subject to change. Book early for the best price.

Video and Image Gallery

Buffy Davis (Fred Cramer / Lina Grumette), Simon Chandler (Max Euwe), Gunnar Cauthery (Guðmundur Þórarinsson), Beruce Khan (Iivo Nei) & Gyuri Sarossy (Efim Geller) Buffy Davis (Fred Cramer / Lina Grumette), Simon Chandler (Max Euwe), Gunnar Cauthery (Guðmundur Þórarinsson), Beruce Khan (Iivo Nei) & Gyuri Sarossy (Efim Geller)
Tom Morton-Smith (Writer) & Philip Desmeules (Lothar Schmid) Tom Morton-Smith (Writer) & Philip Desmeules (Lothar Schmid)
Tom Morton-Smith (Writer) Tom Morton-Smith (Writer)
Beruce Khan (Iivo Nei) & Emma Pallant (Regina Fischer) Beruce Khan (Iivo Nei) & Emma Pallant (Regina Fischer)
Robert Emms (Bobby Fischer) & Gary Shelford (Sæmundur “Sæmi-Rokk” Pálsson) Robert Emms (Bobby Fischer) & Gary Shelford (Sæmundur “Sæmi-Rokk” Pálsson)
Ronan Raftery (Boris Spassky) Ronan Raftery (Boris Spassky)
Gunnar Cauthery (Guðmundur Þórarinsson), Emma Pallant (Regina Fischer) & Buffy Davis (Fred Cramer / Lina Grumette) Gunnar Cauthery (Guðmundur Þórarinsson), Emma Pallant (Regina Fischer) & Buffy Davis (Fred Cramer / Lina Grumette)
Solomon Israel (William Lombardy / Henry Kissinger) Solomon Israel (William Lombardy / Henry Kissinger)
Simon Chandler (Max Euwe) Simon Chandler (Max Euwe)
Joanna Pidcock (Assistant Director) & Annabelle Comyn (Director) Joanna Pidcock (Assistant Director) & Annabelle Comyn (Director)
Rebecca Scroggs (Nikolai Krogius) Rebecca Scroggs (Nikolai Krogius)
Beruce Khan (Iivo Nei), Gyuri Sarossy (Efim Geller) & Ronan Raftery (Boris Spassky) Beruce Khan (Iivo Nei), Gyuri Sarossy (Efim Geller) & Ronan Raftery (Boris Spassky)
Robert Emms (Bobby Fischer) Robert Emms (Bobby Fischer)
Tom Morton-Smith (Writer) & Mike Ashcroft (Movement Director) Tom Morton-Smith (Writer) & Mike Ashcroft (Movement Director)
Robert Emms (Bobby Fischer) & Ronan Raftery (Boris Spassky) Robert Emms (Bobby Fischer) & Ronan Raftery (Boris Spassky)
RONAN RAFTERY (BORIS SPASSKY) RONAN RAFTERY (BORIS SPASSKY)
SOLOMON ISRAEL (WILLIAM LOMBARDY) SOLOMON ISRAEL (WILLIAM LOMBARDY)
GARY SHELFORD (SÆMUNDUR “SÆMI-ROKK” PÁLSSON) GARY SHELFORD (SÆMUNDUR “SÆMI-ROKK” PÁLSSON)
RONAN RAFTERY (BORIS SPASSKY) & ROBERT EMMS (BOBBY FISCHER) RONAN RAFTERY (BORIS SPASSKY) & ROBERT EMMS (BOBBY FISCHER)
REBECCA SCROGGS (NIKOLAI KROGIUS) REBECCA SCROGGS (NIKOLAI KROGIUS)
GYURI SAROSSY (EFIM GELLER) & BERUCE KHAN (IIVO NEI) GYURI SAROSSY (EFIM GELLER) & BERUCE KHAN (IIVO NEI)
GARY SHELFORD (“SÆMI-ROKK” PÁLSSON) & ROBERT EMMS (BOBBY FISCHER) GARY SHELFORD (“SÆMI-ROKK” PÁLSSON) & ROBERT EMMS (BOBBY FISCHER)
PHILIP DESMEULES (LOTHAR SCHMID), GUNNAR CAUTHERY (GUÐMUNDUR ÞÓRARINSSON) & SIMON CHANDLER (MAX EUWE) PHILIP DESMEULES (LOTHAR SCHMID), GUNNAR CAUTHERY (GUÐMUNDUR ÞÓRARINSSON) & SIMON CHANDLER (MAX EUWE)
ROBERT EMMS (BOBBY FISCHER) ROBERT EMMS (BOBBY FISCHER)
EMMA PALLANT (REGINA FISCHER) EMMA PALLANT (REGINA FISCHER)
GYURI SAROSSY (EFIM GELLER), GUNNAR CAUTHERY (GUÐMUNDUR ÞÓRARINSSON), PHILIP DESMEULES (LOTHAR SCHMID) & BERUCE KHAN (IIVO NEI) GYURI SAROSSY (EFIM GELLER), GUNNAR CAUTHERY (GUÐMUNDUR ÞÓRARINSSON), PHILIP DESMEULES (LOTHAR SCHMID) & BERUCE KHAN (IIVO NEI)
EMMA PALLANT (REGINA FISCHER) & ROBERT EMMS (BOBBY FISCHER) EMMA PALLANT (REGINA FISCHER) & ROBERT EMMS (BOBBY FISCHER)
BUFFY DAVIS (FRED CRAMER), PHILIP DESMEULES (LOTHAR SCHMID), SIMON CHANDLER (MAX EUWE), RONAN RAFTERY (BORIS SPASSKY), BERUCE KHAN (IIVO NEI), REBECCA SCROGGS (NIKOLAI KROGIUS) & GUNNAR CAUTHERY (GUÐMUNDUR ÞÓRARINSSON) BUFFY DAVIS (FRED CRAMER), PHILIP DESMEULES (LOTHAR SCHMID), SIMON CHANDLER (MAX EUWE), RONAN RAFTERY (BORIS SPASSKY), BERUCE KHAN (IIVO NEI), REBECCA SCROGGS (NIKOLAI KROGIUS) & GUNNAR CAUTHERY (GUÐMUNDUR ÞÓRARINSSON)
RONAN RAFTERY (BORIS SPASSKY) & ROBERT EMMS (BOBBY FISCHER) RONAN RAFTERY (BORIS SPASSKY) & ROBERT EMMS (BOBBY FISCHER)