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Janie Dee to star in two hander play The Niceties at the Finborough Theatre

Janie Dee

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE Niceties, a two-hander play by American playwright Eleanor Burgess, receives its European premiere at the Finborough Theatre where it runs from October 1 to October 26, 2019.

The Niceties stars double Olivier Award-winner Janie Dee (as Janine) alongside Moronkẹ Akinola (Zoe) who will be making her professional stage debut.

You’re more afraid of looking like a racist than you are of being a racist. Don’t you want to think about that?

At an elite East Coast university, an ambitious young black student and her esteemed white professor meet to discuss a paper the college junior is writing about the American Revolution.

They’re both liberal. They’re both women. They’re both brilliant. But very quickly, discussions of grammar and Google turn to race and reputation, and before they know it, they’re in dangerous territory neither of them had foreseen – exposing dangerous divides that turn a private debate into a public war.

The Niceties is a complex and compelling depiction of racial and generational divides which speaks directly to our polarised, post-truth era, as it asks who gets to tell the story of America, and how.

The Niceties originally premiered at the Huntington Theatre, Boston, before transferring to Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City.

Janie Dee said: “When I read The Niceties, I felt a blast of fear go through me. It affected me and it left me thinking. Eleanor has written a fresh, intelligent play which captures the voice and tone of today’s university student and graduate generation so precisely. I have always wanted to work at the Finborough and I’m really excited to be bringing Eleanor’s incredible writing into an intimate space where there’s nowhere to hide.”

Janie Dee’s many theatre credits include Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Ustinov Studio, Bath), Follies, Women of Troy, Johnny on a Spot and Carousel, for which she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical (National Theatre), Moonlight, Night School (Harold Pinter Theatre), Hand to God (Vaudeville Theatre), The Seagull, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet (Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park), Noises Off (Old Vic/Novello Theatre), All’s Well That Ends Well (Shakespeare’s Globe), Calendar Girls (Noël Coward Theatre), Mack and Mabel (Criterion Theatre/National Tour), Donkey’s Years (Comedy Theatre), Betrayal (Duchess Theatre/Theatre Royal Bath), A Month in the Country, Three Sisters (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Comic Potential, for she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Play (Lyric Theatre/Manhattan Theatre Club).

Her screen work includes Official Secrets, Dare to be Wild, Me and Orson Welles, The Trouble with Dot and Harry, The Driving Seat and Celebration (film); Chimerica, Crashing, Harold Pinter: A Celebration, The Murder Room, Death in Holy Orders, Midsomer Murders, House of Cards, Heartbeat and London’s Burning (TV).

Moronke Akinola

Moronkẹ Akinola (pictured right) trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Her theatre whilst training includes The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Wonder Boy, The Dissociation of Shirley Mason, The Railway Children, The Mill on the Floss, 19th Floor, The Flora Sandes, Beowulf, Philistines, A View from the Bridge, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Importance of Being Earnest, Twelfth Night and Lungs.

Presented by Giles Chiplin Productions and 23 Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre, The Niceties is directed by Matthew Iliffe, with set and costume design by Rachel Stone and lighting design by Lucía Sánchez Roldán.

Tickets: £10 – £25. To book, call the box office on 01223 357851 or visit

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm. Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 3pm. Additional matinees on Thursday 3 and 24. No performances on Sundays and on Friday 4, Saturday 5 and Friday 25.

The European premiere of Emma Kinane’s multi-award-winning new play Anahera continues at the Finborough Theatre until September 28, 2019.