Noughts & Crosses

Richard Madden (Callum) and Ony Uhiara (Sephy) in the RSC's 2007 production of Noughts & Crosses © RSC

Reminiscent of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Noughts & Crosses is a modern-day tale of star-crossed lovers set in a alternative world where you are either a 'Cross' with dark skin or a 'nought' (never with a capital N) with white skin, and violence ensues when the two try to mix. Noughts & Crosses aims to challenge our perceptions of race, power and truth.

The story

We follow the love story of Sephy and Callum, two young people kept apart by bigotry, terrorism and injustice. Sephy is a Prime Minister's daughter from the powerful Crosses who falls for rebel Callum, son of a dangerous nought agitator. Their desire to be together threatens family loyalties and sparks a growing political crisis.

Find out more about the story and this production in our information pack:
Download Information Pack (PDF 920KB)

If you are a teacher working on either the book or the play of Noughts & Crosses, the Activity Pack produced by our Education team contains rehearsal insights and activities for you to try with your students:
Download Activity Pack (PDF 400KB) »

The production

Dominic Cooke adapted and directed Noughts & Crosses which ran at the Civic Hall in Stratford-upon-Avon in winter 2007/8.

In Malorie's novel the different skin colour can of course be kept from the reader, but on stage it's immediately obvious. Dominic tried several ideas to create a 'reveal' moment on stage but abandoned these early once in rehearsal.

Dominic remarked that the world of Noughts & Crosses echoes many different settings: "There's the America of the 1950s, South Africa under apartheid, and in the handling of the Liberation Militia, the IRA of the 1970s and Eighties. It's remarkable how the story also speaks to people who have been divided on other than racial grounds."

The ensemble included Ony Uhiara as Sephy and Richard Madden as Callum.

View photos and watch extracts of this production:


Act 1 Scene 4
Act 1 Scene 12

The director

Director Dominic Cooke is a former RSC Associate Director and currently Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre, London. His most recent production for the RSC was his adaptation of Arabian Nights in winter 2009/10. Before that, he directed Macbeth, As You Like It, The Crucible (which won two Olivier Awards), and Pericles and The Winter's Tale which formed part of our Complete Works Festival in 2006.

The writer

Malorie Blackman is a best-selling author of books for children and young adults. As well as the Noughts & Crosses trilogy, her novels include Hacker, A.N.T.I.D.O.T.E. and Thief!, which won the 1996 Young Telegraph/Fully Booked Award, as well as Pig-Heart Boy, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and adapted for a Bafta award-winning TV series.


Noughts & Crosses ran in repertoire with Fantastic Mr Fox at the Civic Hall in Stratford-upon-Avon and on a UK tour from 2 February 2008.

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