Autumn Season | October - December 2017


by Keith Bunin

Friday, 6 October – Saturday, 25 November 2017

The European premiere of the acclaimed Off-Broadway play

“If you take God away, the world is no less horrible”

★★★★ Broadway Baby
★★★★ The Upcoming
★★★★ London Pub Theatres
★★★★ LondonTheatre1
★★★★ Everything Theatre
★★★★ My Theatre Mates
★★★★ Boyz Magazine
★★★★ Paul in London
★★★★ Always Time for Theatre
★★★★ Remote Goat

OffWestEnd Award Nominations
Best Male in a Play - Michael James
Best Lighting Designer - Matt Cater
Best Set Designer - Marco Turcich

The European premiere of a new play by the acclaimed American playwright Keith Bunin in his UK debut, The Busy World is Hushed.

Hannah, a widowed Minister and Bible scholar, finds her faith at odds with that of her long estranged gay son, Thomas. She has recently hired an inquisitive young writer, Brandt, to assist with her book about a newly discovered manuscript that appears to be a lost gospel, one that may predate those in the Bible itself. As she notices the chemistry brewing between Brandt and her son, she decides to risk all on an unconventional opportunity for reconciliation that has unexpected consequences for all three of them.

Originally premiered at New York City’s Playwrights Horizons, The Busy World is Hushed examines – with wisdom, humour and insight – the contradictions we find in our faith, our families and ourselves…

Founding Artistic Director of Theatre503, and 2017 OffWestEnd Award winner, Paul Higgins returns to direct at the Finborough Theatre.


Playwright Keith Bunin’s other plays include The Credeaux Canvas and The World Over (Playwrights Horizons), 10 Million Miles (Atlantic Theatre Company), Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir (La Jolla Playhouse and City Theatre), Vera Laughed (New York Stage and Film), The Principality of Sorrows (Pure Orange Productions), The King of Clocks, (Lincoln Center Lab) and A Joke (Malaparte). Television includes In Treatment (HBO). Film includes Horns, starring Daniel Radcliffe. His essays have been published in American Film Magazine and on the web at McSweeney's. He received his B.A. from Goddard College and his M.A. from Columbia University.


Director Paul Higgins trained at RADA. Paul founded the award-winning Theatre503 and won the Peter Brook Empty Space Award during his tenure. Theatre includes Dog Well Done, Wendell Ash Was Here (Finborough Theatre), Breathing, Talkin' Loud, Fishbowl, Futures (Theatre503), Address Unknown, Last Tuesday (Minerva Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre), A Doll's House (National Theatre), So Close To Home (Arcola Theatre and Brighton Festival). Associate and Assistant Direction includes assisting Robert Delamere on On The Third Day (Ambassadors Theatre), and Anthony Page on The Lady From Dubuque (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Rosmersholm (Almeida Theatre) and Twelfth Night (Royal Shakespeare Company). Opera includes Madama Butterfly (Opera Holland Park), Così fan tutte (English Touring Opera), Cosi fan Tutte for which he won OffWestEnd Award for Best Opera Production 2017 (King’s Head Theatre) and Madam Butterfly (Kings Head Theatre). As a Revival Director, work includes revising Nicholas Hytner’s Don Carlo and Jonathan Kent's production of Manon Lescaut (Royal Opera House). He has worked as assistant or revival director for Teatro Dell'Opera di Roma, La Scala Milan, Glyndebourne, Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Saito Kinen Festival Japan, Royal Opera Copenhagen and the Royal Opera House in Tokyo. Assistant Direction for Film includes assisting Michael Apted on Enigma, George Lucas on Star Wars Episode I, John Badham on Incognito, Christopher Morahan on A Dance to the Music of Time, George Sluizer on Crimetime, Franco Zeffirelli on Jane Eyre, Screen Two, Nicholas Hytner on The Madness of King George and Martin Clunes on Staggered.


Michael James | Thomas

Trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts where he was the recipient of the 2015 Gyearbour Asante Prize for Acting.
Theatre includes Four Play (Theatre503), The Last Days of Troy (Shakespeare’s Globe), Three (Hen and Chickens Theatre) and Karagula, Her Naked Skin and As You Like It (Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts).
Television includes Our Girl and Doctors.
Radio includes being a finalist for the BBC Carleton Hobbs Bursary Award.

Mateo Oxley | Brandt

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include After Orlando International Theatre Action as part of Vibrant 2016 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights.
Trained at the Arts Educational London School of Acting.
Theatre includes Angels in America and Three Days in the Country (National Theatre), The Drowned Man and A Hollywood Fable (Punchdrunk and National Theatre), Shock Treatment (King’s Head Theatre), Alice: A New Musical and California Suite (St. James Theatre), Scenes From 68* Years (Arcola Theatre) and Draw Me Close: A Virtual Reality Memoir (National Film Board of Canada and National Theatre).
Workshops and readings include The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Wig Out! and The Cherry Orchard (National Theatre Studio), This Much (Park Theatre) and Wonderboy and Olympic Fencing (Soho Theatre).
Film includes Magpie.

Kazia Pelka | Hannah

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include Sons of York and The Delicate Lines as part of Vibrant 2010 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights.
Trained at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art where she was the recipient of the Wilfred Foulis Prize. Theatre includes  Anna Karenina (Palace Theatre, Watford), Journeyman Jack (Everyman Theatre, Liverpool), Great Expectations, Caste and 84 Charing Cross Road (Watermill Theatre, Newbury), Beauty Game (Forum Theatre, Manchester), The Importance of Being Earnest, The Passion and Identity Unknown (Swan Theatre, Worcester), The Police (Theatre Royal, Plymouth), The Wizard of Oz (Clwyd Theatr Cymru) and She Stoops To Conquer, Amadeus,  Seasons Greetings and Annie (Redgrave Theatre, Farnham).
Film includes Dirty Dozen: The Final Mission.
Television includes regular roles on Heartbeat, Brookside and Family Affairs for which she won two 2005 British Soap Awards including Best Dramatic Performance, as well as The Bill, Urban Jungle, Casualty, Doctors, Rides, Holby City, Peak Practice 
and Coronation Street. 
Radio includes Lives Out of Step.


“A rare play that gets both into your head and under your skin.” Emi Garside, My Theatre Mates

“A place for belief and its challenges in an intriguing new play from across the Atlantic.” Peter Barker, Traffic Light Theatregoer

“A fantastic, perpetually pertinent play that wrangles with faith, agnosticism and disbelief.” Felicity Peel, Everything Theatre

“Gripping to watch.” Stephen Vowles, Boyz

“Go see it. You won’t get a better night out.” Kate Pettigrew, London Pub Theatres

“An intimate family drama.” Nick730, Partially Obstructed View

“Packs a punch.” Tom Wicker, The Stage

“A fine production which does both the Finborough and the playwright justice.” Frey Kwa Hawking, A Younger Theatre

“Smart, witty and intelligent.” Keith Mckenna, British Theatre Guide

“Watching The Busy World is Hushed sends both a mind reeling trying to keep up with the ideas and questions posed by the characters, but also cuts to the heart with some frank, honest reflections on grief and love.” Emi Garside, My Theatre Mates

“A must-see night of theatre exploring families, religion, loss and love.” Kate Pettigrew, London Pub Theatres

“A fascinating play that definitely deserves to be seen.” Terry Eastham, London Theatre 1

“A very powerful and hugely emotionally charged piece of theatre that is completely engrossing.” Stephen Vowles, Boyz

“You can’t keep me away from the Finborough Theatre. This tiny performance space above a wonderful pub near Earl’s Court showcases some of the very best of the UK’s fringe theatre. The Busy World is Hushed is no exception. This UK premiere of American playwright Keith Bunin’s production about faith and family – and all the complications that come with both – is well conceived, brilliantly executed and utterly captivating.” Felicity Peel, Everything Theatre

“A piece full of compassion.” Frey Kwa Hawking, A Younger Theatre

“Bunin's writing is intelligent and humane.” Peter Barker, Traffic Light Theatregoer

“The play has had rave reviews in the US and that is not surprising. A sensitive, and intelligent, piece of writing.” Kate Pettigrew, London Pub Theatres

“The intelligent, humorous dialogue alone makes this play worth seeing.” Keith Mckenna, British Theatre Guide

“The script is exceptionally well-written and the story unfolds with ease, clarity and drama.” Felicity Peel, Everything Theatre

“Well-written and fast-paced.” Frey Kwa Hawking, A Younger Theatre

“A fabulous, emotive and thought-provoking piece of writing.” Kate Pettigrew, London Pub Theatres

“Keith Bunin's thoughtful exploration of faith, grief and loss.” Tom Wicker, The Stage

“An excellently written and well performed production, that simultaneously provides a space for debate between faith, agnosticism and disbelief.” Felicity Peel, Everything Theatre

“Keith Bunin has written a fascinating theological discussion which pits the faithful against the non-believer using ruthless logic and some cruelty on occasion on both sides to get their point across.” Terry Eastham, London Theatre 1

“Bunin is a writer of wit, subtlety and no small degree of courage, and the play not only tackles changing family and sexual mores but dares to rake over the ashes of age-old theological arguments.” Jenny Gilbert, The Arts Desk

“A brilliantly written, well directed play.” Felicity Peel, Everything Theatre

“A deftly handled three hander and all the actors do some extraordinary and heavy work.” Emi Garside, My Theatre Mates

“An absorbing drama in a well-performed production.” Peter Barker, Traffic Light Theatregoer

“The three actors are tremendous.” Kate Pettigrew, London Pub Theatres

“Both Oxley and Michael James (Thomas) have found the heart of the real affection between the two in the play. To find a play also in which a gay relationship is at the heart, but the play nor the conflict is about them being gay is a rare gift.” Emi Garside, My Theatre Mates

“It’s always good to see a play with central gay characters where their sexuality is incidental to the story, and Oxley and James have good chemistry in their scenes together.” Nick730, Partially Obstructed View

“Mateo Oxley and Michael James breathe life into Brandt and Thomas’s unlikely relationship.” Tom Wicker, The Stage

“Mateo and Michael produced extremely good performances.” Terry Eastham, London Theatre 1

“Oxley and James play the dynamic beautifully.” Emi Garside, My Theatre Mates

“Outstanding talent in the two men, […] who together generate a sexual charge that makes the air crackle.” Jenny Gilbert, The Arts Desk

“Michael James gives a whirlwind performance.” Emi Garside, My Theatre Mates

“Michael James, stunning to watch.” Stephen Vowles, Boyz

“Oxley gives a tremendous performance.” Kate Pettigrew, London Pub Theatres

“Oxley’s nuanced and passionate performance makes it hard to take your eyes off him.” Jo Hardman, The Spy in the Stalls

“Mateo Oxley convincingly plays Brandt with wit and consideration.” Felicity Peel, Everything Theatre

“Oxley makes a convincing East Coast patrician, an urbane intellectual, both a lover and grieving son.” Peter Barker, Traffic Light Theatregoer

“Mateo Oxley is doing incredible, emotional but intelligent work.” Emi Garside, My Theatre Mates

Kazia Pelka. “Complex, emotive performance.” Kate Pettigrew, London Pub Theatres

“Played with an elegance in the role by Kazia Pelka.” Stephen Vowles, Boyz

“There was a real fire in [Kazia’s] performance.” Terry Eastham, London Theatre 1

“Kazia Pelka gives a strong grounded performance as Hannah. There’s a spark and strength to her performance, and she delivers lines with wit and sharpness.” Emi Garside, My Theatre Mates

“Outstanding performances.” Felicity Peel, Everything Theatre

“An excellent play, performed by a strong cast.” Jo Hardman, The Spy in the Stalls

“Beautifully played.” Stephen Vowles, Boyz

“Paul Higgins directs with a sure touch for the sensitivities of this odd trinity of struggling souls.” Jenny Gilbert, The Arts Desk

“Director Paul Higgins keeps up the momentum throughout the play.” Peter Barker, Traffic Light Theatregoer

“The direction by Paul Higgins is also very good, making clever use of the small space and incorporating creative scene changes.” Felicity Peel, Everything Theatre


“Mr. Bunin manages to explore the serious idea of how faith is discovered, maintained or abandoned by thoughtful people today without cheapening the discussion with strident polemics.” The New York Times

“Dramatically and emotionally absorbing, it’s smart, contemplative dialogue flowing naturally from the articulate characters.” Variety

“One of New York’s essential playwrights, Bunin has written wonderful roles for his actors” Time Out New York “This is the sort of play that validates that level of commitment to this thoughtful young playwright.” CurtainUp

“Provocative and moving new play… fresh and engaging.” Theatre Mania

“Bunin's ruthless consistency in presenting them lends compelling, unyielding authority... prospective audiences can be assured that if they will be tried along the way, their faith in Bunin will not ultimately be misplaced.” Talking Broadway

“Excellent new drama. This young man is a fresh new voice adept at discussing complex subjects through developed characters in intelligent plots." Chicago Critic

“Complicated people with believable motivations that lead to unbelievable actions. And it’s a pleasure to hear intelligent debate about religion.” Time Out Chicago

“Bunin’s effortless emotional accuracy is marvellously captured.” Chicago Free Press


“A superb production. Higgins' direction is creative and intelligent.” The Stage on Talkin’ Loud

“Director Paul Higgins has coaxed astonishing performances.” The Stage on Fishbowl

“Higgins' beautifully acted production… a quality of silence that is rare in the theatre.” The Guardian on Futures

“Resourcefully staged, exceptionally cast and very entertaining.” The Stage on Cosi fan Tutte

“Higgins’ production conveys its strange dynamics with such skill and care.” Theatre Cat on Cosi Fan Tutte

“Perfect. We think Mozart would have loved it.” Rageoffstage on Cosi Fan Tutte


Friday, 6 October – Saturday, 25 November 2017

Tuesday to Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm.
Sunday Matinees at 3.00pm.
Saturday Matinees 3.00pm (No Matinees on 7 October and 28 October).

Performance Length: Approximately 2 hours 10 minutes including one interval of 15 minutes.

Prices until 15 October 2017

Tickets £16, £14 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £14 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £16 all seats.
Previews (6, 7 and 8 October) £12 all seats.

£10 tickets for Under 30's for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.

£12 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on Saturday, 7 October 2017 when booked online only.

Prices from 17 October 2017

Tickets £18, £16 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats. 

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


Directed by Paul Higgins

Designed by Marco Turcich

Lighting by Matt Cater

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