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Casting announced for The Cutting Edge at Arcola Theatre

The cast of Cutting Edge

Casting news

CASTING has been announced for Jack Shepherd’s new play The Cutting Edge. A tragicomedy about life, money and art that Shepherd also directs, it opens Arcola Theatre’s 20th anniversary season, running from February 13 to March 21, 2020.

The line-up includes James Clyde (as Peter), Michael Feast (Zak), Jasmine Hyde (Anna), Maggie Steed (Elvira) and David Sturzaker (Chris).

Olivier Award-winner Jack Shepherd has collaborated with Arcola as an actor, writer and director over 20 years. He originally studied at art school before becoming an actor, and this brand new play examines the impact of the rise of commercialism on art and life.

It is the follow-up to his acclaimed 1998 play Half Moon, about London’s bohemian artists during the Falklands war. One of those artists, Elvira Bentham, is depicted several years later in The Cutting Edge, visiting a couple who have chosen to abandon art criticism for a self-sustainable life in the country.

We all felt we were on the crest of a breaking wave. The future was ours.

Anna and Chris have abandoned the lucrative world of art criticism for a self-sufficient life in the countryside. But seven years in, doubts are beginning to take root. An unexpected visit from glamorous artist Elvira shakes the foundations of the couple’s new life, and brings a bygone era into startlingly sharp focus.

Jack Shepherd said: “I studied art at the University of Durham from 1958 to 1962, under Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton. When I started, the predominant influence was Pasmore’s and his essentially constructivist style. By the time I left, the building was filled with brightly-coloured pictures like Hamilton’s – straight out of American pop art. A spirit had been unleashed which was increasingly about capital and the market; adverts, poster art and celebrity. The Cutting Edge is my attempt to understand what happened to me in that period of education, and to evaluate the modernist movement in art.”

Arcola’s co-founder and Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen said: “Jack Shepherd is an exceptional theatre maker and one of the people who helped to shape Arcola’s first two decades, so it is very special that he will be opening our 20th anniversary season. I can’t wait to welcome him back to Arcola with this new play which asks important questions about the value of art in our society.”

Jack Shepherd is an actor, writer, director and artist. His previous work at Arcola includes Only When I Laugh (2009) and Chasing The Moment (2007); and as an actor: Home (2013), Small Craft Warnings (2008) and Macbeth (2002). His other directorial work includes Measure for Measure (National Theatre), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare’s Globe) and King Lear (Southwark Playhouse).

Shepherd played the title role in Trevor Griffiths’ series Bill Brand (1976) and the detective drama Wycliffe (1993-98). He won the 1983 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a New Play for the original production of Glengarry Glen Ross.

The creative team also includes Louie Whitemore (designer), Richard Williamson (lighting designer) and Lex Kosanke (sound designer).

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 020 7503 1646 or visit

The Canary and the Crow continues at Arcola Theatre until February 8, 2020.