Latest Press Releases


Crooked Dances by award-winning playwright and screen-writer Robin French, co-writer of the hit BBC 3 sitcom Cuckoo.

Crooked Dances

By Robin French
Directed by Elizabeth Freestone
The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon
Thursday 20 June – Saturday 13 July
Press night: Wednesday 26 June at 7pm

Casting is announced for the world premiere of the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Crooked Dances, a bold new work by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Robin French, directed by Elizabeth Freestone. This compelling new play examines music, time and attention in our modern digital age.

The production will run from Thursday 20 June to Saturday 13 July in the Studio Theatre at The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, which, since its re-opening in 2016, has been home to new commissions by some of today’s most exciting theatre-makers.

Journalist Katy is desperate for her big break, and an interview in Paris with world famous concert pianist Silvia de Zingaro looks like just her chance.

But the odds are against her. After a disastrous interview, Katy feels certain there's a bigger story there than meets the eye. She hunts for clues, finding Silvia has a collection of mystical books and an apparent fixation with composer Erik Satie. Just as Katy's hope begins to fade, a mysterious night-time encounter with the pianist may well give her the scoop she's looking for…

Making their RSC debuts in the roles of concert pianist, Silvia de Zingaro and the journalist, Katy Porlock, are, respectively, Ruth Lass and Jeany Spark.  Ruth’s credits include Equus (English Touring Theatre), Great Apes (Arcola) and A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Hull Truck). Her TV work includes Silent Witness (BBC) and Houdini and Doyle (ITV). Jeany’s credits include Skylight (Theatr Clywd) and Battleface (Bush Theatre); and on screen Collateral (BBC), Linda Wallander in Wallander (BBC), and Emma Lipsey in Man Down (Channel 4). 

Ben Onwukwe returns to the RSC to play Denis Zann, Silvia’s manager.  Ben’s RSC credits include Days of Significance, Pericles and The Winter’s Tale.  Other theatre credits include New Nigerians (Arcola), The Treatment (Almeida) and The Shawshank Redemption (Tour).  Television work includes: Safe (Netflix), Marcella (ITV) and EastEnders (BBC).

Olly Mott plays Photographer, Nick Sobers.  His theatre credits include Milked (Soho Theatre), Almost Near (Finborough Theatre) and a season at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick.  He has worked for the BBC on EastEnders and Doctors. Crooked Dances is his RSC debut.

Playwright Robin French said “Having felt ready to write a new play, I approached the RSC, knowing that Head of Literary Pippa Hill has an extraordinary talent for unlocking writers. Sure enough, the first inspiration for the play came. I was on a train, listening to a playlist on Spotify. When I heard Erik Satie’s ‘Crooked Dances’ for the first time, I felt a strong intuition that that was where the treasure was buried. The play that evolved melds my fascination with Satie’s music with the preoccupations of our 21st Century digital society. I’m delighted to be working with the brilliant director Elizabeth Freestone on this, my first commission with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and I can’t wait to share it with audiences.”

Director Elizabeth Freestone added, From reading the first few lines in Robin’s play, I was hooked. He creates a funny, vivid and spell-binding atmosphere as the extraordinary story of Silvia’s life unfolds. Nothing you are told is quite as straightforward as it seems, and nothing you see is quite what you expect. It’s a fantastic challenge to realise the ideas and images Robin is exploring – the power of music, the nature of time, the fragility of real human connection. Directing such a powerful and provocative new play for the RSC’s iconic The Other Place is an exciting prospect. We’ll be using projection, live music and possibly a few surprises to create a full and theatrical experience for the audience.”

Robin French is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. His first play, Bear Hug, won the Royal Court Young Writer's Festival and was produced at the Royal Court, where it earned an extended run. Subsequent productions include Gilbert is Dead (Hoxton Hall), The Red Helicopter (Almeida), Heather Gardner (Birmingham Rep), The Get Out (The Royal Court), and Musical Differences (National Theatre Connections).

Robin’s short film Crocodile won awards at Cannes, Encounters, and Guanajuato festival in Mexico, and was BIFA nominated for Best British short. Alongside his friend Kieron Quirke, Robin also co-created and wrote five series of the hit BBC sitcom Cuckoo, starring Greg Davies, Andy Samberg, Taylor Lautner and Andi MacDowell. Cuckoo was BBC3's biggest rating comedy launch and garnered nominations both at BAFTA and the British Comedy Awards. Robin and Kieron’s credits also include creating and writing thirteen-part US sitcom series Roommates (ABC Family) and eight-part mystery drama Trinity (ITV2), starring Charles Dance and Claire Skinner.

Elizabeth Freestone is a freelance director whose previous credits include Endless Light (Kali/Southwark Playhouse); The Duchess of Malfi, Dr Faustus, The School for Scandal, Volpone (Greenwich Theatre); Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Water Harvest (Theatre503) and Left On Church Street (Bridewell).

Previous productions for the RSC include The Rape of Lucrece, Here Lies Mary Spindler, The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes and The Comedy of Errors. She was the Associate Director for A Caucasian Chalk Circle at the National and was an assistant director at the Royal Court, Soho and Hampstead. Elizabeth was Artistic Director of Pentabus Theatre from 2012 to 2017, for whom she directed Slow Dusk by Rory Mullarkey, In This Place by Frances Brett and Lydia Adetunji, This Same England with Lorraine Stanley, Stand Up Diggers All by Phil Porter and The Hay Play by Nell Leyshon.

Crooked Dances is designed by Basia Bińkowska; Lighting by Lauren Watson; Music and Sound by Max Pappenheim; and Dramaturg, Pippa Hill.

Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact 01789 412 622
For press tickets please contact 01789 412 660
To book tickets call 01789 331 111 or online at 

The work of the RSC Literary Department is generously supported by THE DRUE AND H.J. HEINZ II CHARITABLE TRUST

The RSC Acting Companies are generously supported by THE GATSBY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION and THE KOVNER FOUNDATION

Crooked Dances is supported by the John S Cohen Foundation 

The role of Assistant Director in Crooked Dances is supported by The Nina and Roger Stewart Charitable Trust

The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world.  We produce an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers.   

Everyone at the RSC - from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians - plays a part in creating the world you see on stage.  All our productions begin life at our Stratford workshops and theatres and we bring them to the widest possible audience through our touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity. So wherever you experience the RSC, you experience work made in Shakespeare’s home town.  

We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre.  We reach 530,000 children and young people annually through our education work, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online.  Registered charity no.


Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.


You might also like