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Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Steve Pemberton to star in Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman

Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MARTIN McDonagh, the multi Olivier, BAFTA and Academy Award-winning playwright and screen-writer responsible for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths and Six Shooter, is back in London’s West End this summer with his acclaimed iconic play, The Pillowman.

The production, which runs at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited 12-week season from July 24 to October 17, 2020, reunites McDonagh with Matthew Dunster, the director of their acclaimed production of Hangmen

Described as electrifying and savagely funny, The Pillowman‘s only previous UK run was at the National Theatre in 2003.

The cast includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Katurian and Steve Pemberton as Tupolski, with further casting to be announced.

Martin McDonagh said: “The Pillowman is a play that’s always been very close to my heart, in terms of its combination of the darkest of dark comedy with its exploration of the nature of story-telling itself. It’s a play that I haven’t wanted to have staged in London until I could find the perfect director and the ideal cast for it, and having worked with Matthew previously on Hangmen, and been an admirer of Steve and Aaron’s work for many years, I feel it’s the perfect time to find out what a whole new generation makes of this peculiar tale…”

In a totalitarian state a Writer is questioned by the authorities about a spate of murders that bear similarities to his short stories. Is this life imitating art or something more sinister? This black comedy widely regarded as one of the greatest plays of the past 25 years, examines the role of the artist in society and asks what price do we pay for freedom of expression.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s film roles include portrayals of a young John Lennon in Nowhere Boy, Count Vronksy in Joe Wright’s adaptation of Anna Karenina and James Frey in A Million Little Pieces. He recently starred in Doug Liman’s The Wall, David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King and later this year, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.

Additional credits include the titular character in the Kick-Ass films, Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Shanghai Knights, Godzilla and Oliver Stone’s Savages. He was recognized with a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and a BAFTA Award Nomination for Tom Ford’s thriller, Nocturnal Animals.

Steve Pemberton

Steve Pemberton is a member of The League of Gentlemen with Reece Shearsmith, Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson. He co-wrote and appeared in Psyschoville and Inside Number 9. His other television credits include: Good Omens, Worzel Gummidge, Doctor Who, Benidorm, Blackpool, Shameless, Whitechapel, Happy Valley and Mapp and Lucia. His stage work includes playing Mr Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer at the National Theatre.

Matthew Dunster – who directed McDonagh’s award-winning Hangmen at the Royal Court, in the West End and soon on Broadway – is joined on the creative team by Set and Costume Designer Anna Fleischle (Hangmen, Death of a Salesman, Message in a Bottle, Everyone’s Talking about Jamie) and Sound Designer Ian Dickinson (Hangmen, Company – West End and Broadway, Jerusalem and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time).

Empire Street Productions is presenting The Pillowman and are thrilled to be bringing this extraordinary play to London with a ‘Pay What You Can’ ticket pricing initiative across the whole run. James Bierman (Empire Street Productions) said: ”I really hope that with this play, this cast and for this production, we can welcome both established and new playgoers into the West End, and that this pricing accessibility will give those audiences the thrill of live theatre at its very best.”

Also at the Duke of York’s Theatre: Noël Coward’s classic comedy Blithe Spirit, starring Jennifer Saunders (March 5 to April 11) and the West End transfer of The Doctor starring Juliet Stevenson (April 18 to July 18, 2020).

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