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Kacey Ainsworth leads cast in James Fritz's Lava

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FIFTH Word and Nottingham Playhouse are presenting James Fritz’s Lava at Soho Theatre (May 5 to May 16, 2020) and on tour (April 23 to June 20).

Kacey Ainsworth, who leads the cast as Vicky, is best known as long-running character Little Mo in EastEnders. More recently, the award-winning actress starred in ITV’s Grantchester and on stage as Mrs Lovett in the Liverpool Everyman’s production of Sweeney Todd where she received rave reviews for her performance.

She is joined by Dan Parr (as Vin), who recently performed in Road at the Royal Court Theatre and at Leeds Playhouse’s pop-up theatre, Safiyya Ingar (as Rach) and Fred Fergus (as Jamie).

Lava focuses on the stages of grief and the ways we find to cope, exploring love, friendship and human connection.

Written by James Fritz, the play is set in the aftermath of an unthinkable disaster which has struck London. In a small town far from the capital, a young man called Vin can no longer speak. Is it shock? Grief? Or something else? Lava considers what happens to those who can’t express themselves in a world that celebrates self-expression, and looks at the lengths we will go to to make sense of our sadness.

While Vin’s mum Vicky is struggling with a loss of her own, his friend Rach is determined to help him find a way out of silence. But when Rach’s family take in Jamie, a charismatic and articulate survivor of the asteroid disaster, who thinks talking – or even singing – about your suffering is the way to heal, Vin’s plight is suddenly eclipsed.

Writer James Fritz said: “I love these characters to bits, and can’t wait for more people to meet them. Lava’s probably the most hopeful play I’ve worked on, and it feels like the right time to be doing it again. It’s also a play that is in part about the complicated relationship between London, where I’m from, and the rest of the country. That relationship feels more under strain than it ever has been in my lifetime, which means that Lava is probably the play of mine that I’m most excited to take to all sorts of different places around the UK.

“During the initial run at the Nottingham Playhouse we got the sense that the story of Vin’s silence meant very different things to different people, depending on who they were and what they’d been through. That’s all you can ever ask as a playwright, I think, when a play that was written from a very personal place starts speaking to audiences in ways you could never have imagined. I can’t wait to see how the response changes and grows as we take the story across the UK.”

Lava is directed by Angharad Jones with Associate Director Laura Ford and designed by Amy Jane Cook, with lighting design by Alexandra Stafford, sound design by Dan Balfour and video design by Louise Rhoades-Brown.

For more information or to book ticket, call 020 7478 0100 or visit sohotheatre.com/.

The tour opens at Salisbury Playhouse before continuing to Birmingham, London, Bath, Nottingham, Plymouth, Oxford and Edinburgh.

A Scottish premiere has also been announced: Lava will be performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh from June 10 – 12.

Hassan Abdulrazzak’s timely new play The Special Relationship with Amrita Acharia (until March 21). Also at Soho Theatre: award-winning playwright Chloë Moss’ Run Sister Run (March 25 to May 2, 2020).