Autumn Season | September to November 2013


by Anders Lustgarten

Tuesday, 1 October – Saturday, 26 October 2013

The world premiere

Recommended in The Guardian's Best Theatre of Autumn 2013

“ And do you know why I was called by that name? Because I decided who would be saved and who would be condemned. I took that responsibility for others and now I take it for myself. I am Black Jesus. I do not crawl. ”

In a production commissioned by the Finborough Theatre, following a workshop production at the Harare International Festival of Arts, Zimbabwe, and a staged reading as part of Vibrant – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, Anders Lustgarten's Black Jesus receives its world premiere...

Zimbabwe. 2015.

 Eunice Ncube, working for the new Truth and Justice Commission, begins the interviewing of Gabriel Chibamu, one of the most infamous perpetrators of the horrors of the Mugabe regime. As Gabriel's trial and inevitable prosecution approach, Eunice begins to sift through the past – only to find that right and wrong, and guilt and innocence, are far less clear than she first thought...

This stunning new play by Finborough Theatre Playwright-in-Residence and one of the UK's leading political playwrights, Anders Lustgarten, is more urgent than ever in the light of the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe. Black Jesus unpicks the political complexities of Zimbabwe through the devastating personal journeys of two very different people, both scarred by one of Africa's most notorious dictatorships.


Playwright Anders Lustgarten is a Playwright-in-Residence at the Finborough Theatre and made his London debut there with The Insurgents (2007), Enduring Freedom (2008) and – as Pearson Playwright-in-Residence – A Day at the Racists, partially about the BNP but mainly about New Labour's betrayal of the working class, which won both Pearson's Catherine Johnson Award and the inaugural Harold Pinter Award. His work staged as part of Vibrant – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights festivals includes Death and the Kit-Kat (A Torture Comedy) (2009) and The Punishment Stories (2010). His other work includes If You Don't Let Us Dream, We Won't Let You Sleep (Royal Court Theatre). He has had attachments at Soho and the National Theatre, and commissions from both the Octagon Theatre, Bolton, and the Royal Court Theatre.


Director David Mercatali is a director and writer. For his production of the world premiere of Philip Ridley’s Tender Napalm, he received nominations for the Evening Standard Outstanding Newcomer Award and the OffWestEnd Award for Best Director. Previous work includes Feathers in the Snow (Southwark Playhouse), the acclaimed verbatim play Someone to Blame (King’s Head Theatre), the premiere of Philip Ridley’s Moonfleece (London and National Tour), Weights and his own play The Sound (Blue Elephant Theatre), Runners: The Return (Underbelly for the Edinburgh Festival) and People’s Day (Pleasance London). He was Assistant Director on The Eleventh Capital (Royal Court Theatre), is currently Associate Director at the Southwark Playhouse, and has developed new work with Paines Plough and Theatre503.


Paapa Essiedu

Trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama Theatre includes Outside On The Street(Arcola Theatre and Pleasance Edinburgh), A Marked Man (Hightide Festival), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Mouse and His Child (Royal Shakespeare Company) and Dutchman (Orange Tree Theatre).

Alexander Gatehouse

Trained at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Theatre includes The Merchant Of Venice (UK Tour), A Midsummer Night's Dream (UK Tour), Old Things (Bush Theatre), Hamlet (Dalston Bunker), Cyrano De Bergerac (US tour), The Taming Of The Shrew (US tour), Someone To Blame (King's Head Theatre), Green And Pleasant Land (Arcola Theatre), A Doll’s House (Arcola Theatre), The Exonerated (Charing Cross Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Unicorn Theatre), Communication Breakdown (Theatre 503), Big Shoe (King's Head Theatre), The Gift (Old Vic New Voices), Freddie Hearts Freddie (Southwark Playhouse),  Beat Generation/Jack Kerouac (Old Vic New Voices), The Sound (Blue Elephant Theatre),  Inches Apart (Theatre 503), All For Honour (Tara Arts), Present Tense (Trafalgar Studios), Elegies For Angels, Punks And Raging Queens (Fortune Theatre), Valpariso (Old Red Lion Theatre), Not In My Home (The Space), The Broken Heart (White Bear Theatre), A Bequest To The Nation (Jermyn Street Theatre) and Hanging Around (Kneehigh). Television includes A London Affair.

Debbie Korley

Theatre includes Too Clever By Half (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, and Told by an Idiot), The Endings (Theatre 503) King Lear, American Trade, Little Eagles, Morte D'Arthur, Hamlet, Romeo And Juliet, The Grain Store, The Comedy Of Errors, As You Like It (Royal Shakespeare Company), Feathers In The Snow (National Theatre Studio), Saturday Night (White Bear Theatre), Cinderella (Theatre Royal Stratford East), A Matter Of Life And Death (Kneehigh and the National Theatre), Coram Boy (National Theatre), Sick! (Almeida Theatre), Ten Suitcases (The Drill Hall), The Little Mermaid (The Bull Theatre), The Vagina Monologues (Mercury Theatre, Colchester), The African Maiden (Blue Elephant Theatre) and Whistle Down The Wind (Palace Theatre). Television includes Doctors, Green Balloon Club, Holy Smoke, Casualty, Night And Day and Night Fever.

Cyril Nri

Theatre includes Julius Caesar (Royal Shakespeare Company and West End), The Riots (Tricycle Theatre), Mad About The Boy (Edinburgh Festival), The Observer (National Theatre),  Oxford Street (Royal Court Theatre), Othello (Birmingham Stage Company), The Exonerated (Riverside Studios), Where Do We Live (Royal Court Theatre), The Way Of The World (National Theatre), Playboy Of The West Indies (Tricycle Theatre), The Darker Face Of The Earth (National Theatre) and The Tempest (The Old Vic). Film includes Deadmeat, Long Time Dead, The Siege and Talos: The Mummy. Television includes Law and Order, Holby City, New Tricks, The Sarah Jane Adventures,  Doctors, Waking The Dead, Cold Blood, The Bill, EastEnders, Family Affairs, Arabian Nights and This Life.


On If You Don’t Let Us Dream, Then We Won’t Let You Sleep

“He’ll be saying a lot of things that haven’t been heard in our theatre for a long time. He could even be lining himself up as the first genuinely intellectual left-wing dramatist since Trevor Griffiths and David Edgar.” WhatsOnStage 
“The play has bags of vigour and offers a bracing attack on financial capitalism" The Guardian

“Lustgarten's disgust is bracing as he begs to differ, big-time, from David Cameron” The Independent

“A fierce writer whose activism blends intellectual curiosity and idealism” Evening Standard

On A Day at the Racists

“The best new political play of recent times.” John Nathan, The Jewish Chronicle

“The real "wow" of the week is A Day at the Racists by Anders Lustgarten, a political activist turned breathtakingly confident playwright” Kate Bassett, The Independent on Sunday

“A potent and timely state of the nation play…A triumph – a splendid play that deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible.” Evelyn Curlet, The Stage

“More than a match for Richard Bean's NT satire, England People Very Nice, and better than some of David Hare's state-of-the-nation plays.” Kate Bassett, The Independent on Sunday


“Mercatali is clearly one to watch” Time Out

“Mercatali’s brilliantly alert and magically tragicomic production” The Independent on Moonfleece

“David Mercatali's direction is quick-paced and strong” WhatsOnStage on Someone To Blame

“Viciously funny and deeply sensual... simply and sensationally staged by Mercatali” The Guardian on Tender Napalm

“Mercatali captures beautifully the invisible, unspoken and benign repression” Time Out on Weights

"The pulsating animal energy of Mercatali's production" Evening Standard on Tender Napalm

"A spirit of antic knockabout playfulness splendidly captured in Mercatali's production" The Independent on Feathers in the Snow


★★★★ Time Out
★★★★ WhatsOnStage
★★★★ Evening Standard
★★★★ The Upcoming
★★★★ Everything Theatre
★★★★ The Public Reviews
★★★★ What's Peen Seen
★★★★ London Theatreviews

“Anders Lustgarten's powerful new play.” Paul Taylor, The Independent

“Anders Lustgarten, currently the most provocative political playwright in Britain.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“This stunning new play by Anders Lustgarten, one of the UK’s leading political playwrights.”

“Anders Lustgarten is a rare animal: a political playwright. His work has so far included an exploration of British fascism and a frontal assault on the capitalist crisis. Now, in this new 75-minute piece, he tackles Zimbabwe; the result... is intriguing and eye-opening.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Anders Lustgarten is a vigorously political playwright who’s been honing his talent at the Finborough with plays such as ‘A Day at the Racists’...What’s fascinating about his latest work is his ability to probe the shocking subject of political violence in Zimbabwe and tease out the psychological and political threads that sustain it.” Patrick Marmion, Time Out

“An emotional and political tour de force.” Everything Theatre

“What is refreshing is that Lustgarten opens up new dramatic territory: a play can act as a stimulus to research, and this one had me searching the internet for information about what has happened in Zimbabwe since the recent elections.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“This is unabashedly direct political theatre that forces you to sit up straight and be provoked into thought.” Laura Tucker, The Upcoming

“Unlike some political theatre it is engrossing, captivating stuff that doesn’t sacrifice drama at the altar of moralising or delivering sermons to the audience. It takes a weighty topic and tells it from a unique and interesting angle. An excellent production all round.” Andy Moseley, The Public Reviews

“Set in the near future, Anders Lustgarten's play, tackling the horrors of contemporary Zimbabwe, has a feverish intensity.” Henry Hitchings, London Evening Standard

“Black Jesus is absorbing and strikingly succinct.” Henry Hitchings, London Evening Standard

“A sophisticated look at how human beings deal with the traumas of the past.” Honour Bates, The Stage

“Debbie Korley as the nervously investigative Eunice, Paapa Essiedu as the intimidating, far-from-angelic Gabriel and Cyril Nri as the dangerously smooth apologist for the new government are all exceptionally good.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Papa Essiedu (Gabriel), Debbie Korley (Eunice), Alexander Gatehouse (Rob) and Cyril Nri (Moyo) all give faultless performances.” Kira Goman, WhatsOnStage

“Stunning performances by Paapa Essiedu as the defiant yet vulnerable ‘Black Jesus’; Debbie Korley as the devoted but naïve Eunice Ncube, Cyril Nyi as the canny, manipulative Minister Edward Moyo and Alexander Gatehouse as a fun-loving but pragmatic Rob.”

“The engaging writing and powerful acting, particularly from Korley and Essiedu, kept me enthralled throughout.” Laura Kate, What’s Peen Seen?

“Debbie Korley as Eunice and Paapa Essiedu as Gabriel are particularly outstanding.” Andy Moseley, The Public Reviews

“Paapa Essiedu’s Chibamu is both beguiling believer and a dangerous coiled spring.” Marianka Swain, Bargain Theatreland

“Paapa Essiedu gives an electric and consuming performance.” Everything Theatre

“In the hands of the excellent Paapa Essiedu he has a deeply malign menace.” Henry Hitchings, London Evening Standard

“Paapa Essiedu is excellent as Gabriel.” Paul Taylor, The Independent

“Korley, present in every scene of the play, steers the action and the mood with poise, precision, and passion.” Everything Theatre

“Debbie Korley gives a moving performance as Eunice.” Laura Kate, What’s Peen Seen?

“Cyril Nri is an ebulliently cynical government minister.” Patrick Marmion, Time Out

“Cyril Nri’s smooth politician is terrifying and worryingly convincing.” Honour Bates, The Stage

“Given a brilliantly sinister edge by Cyril Nri.” Paul Taylor, The Independent

“David Mercatali has come up with a tight, tense production.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“David Mercatali’s production is forensically focused.” Patrick Marmion, Time Out

“Thought provoking and intense, director David Mercatali does a brilliant job keeping us in suspense.” Kira Goman, WhatsOnStage

“David Mercatali’s direction is focused and intuitive.” Honour Bates, The Stage

“David Mercatali's compelling, pressure-cooker production.” Paul Taylor, The Independent

“Max Dorey’s simple but intimate set, the subtle lighting, the powerful concentration of the acting, the enormity of the subject make this production the essence of what theatre can do by enlightening the atrocities of today through an emotional journey.” Blanche Marvin, Blanche Marvin’s London Theatreviews


Tuesday, 1 October – Saturday, 26 October 2013

Tuesday to Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm.
Sunday Matinees at 3.00pm.
Saturday Matinees 3.00pm (from 12 October 2013).

Performance Length: Approximately 90 minutes with no interval.

1 - 13 October 2013

Tickets £14, £10 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £10 all seats, and Saturday evenings £14 all seats.
Previews (1 and 2 October) £9 all seats.

£6 tickets for Under 30's for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.

£10 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on Saturday, 5 October 2013 when booked online only.

15 - 26 October 2013

Tickets £16, £12 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £12 all seats, and Saturday evenings £16 all seats. 

For details of our Returns Policy for sold out performances, please click here


Directed by David Mercatali

Presented by HMD Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.