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Casting details are announced for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Whip opening in the Swan Theatre this winter.

The Whip by Juliet Gilkes Romero

Directed by Kimberley Sykes
Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon 01789 331111

Saturday 1 February – Sat 21 March 2020
Press night: Tuesday 11 February, 7pm


As the 19th Century dawns, politicians of all political persuasions gather in London to abolish the slave trade once and for all.  But will the price of freedom turn out to be a multi-billion pound pay off to the slave owners, even though such a bailout could drive the country into economic and political ruin?

As morality and corruption clash in a world of men thirsty for power, two women forge an unlikely union and fight their way to the seat of political influence, challenging Members of Parliament who dare deny them their say.

In this provocative new play, directed by Kimberley Sykes, (Dido, Queen of Carthage, 2017; As You Like It, 2019), the personal collides with the political to ask what is the right thing to do and how much must it cost?

Juliet Gilkes Romero is a playwright and journalist. She has reported for the BBC from countries including Ethiopia, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Her most recent work is for the TV series Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle (BBC4), co-produced with Sir Lenny Henry’s Douglas Road Productions.  Previously for the RSC she co-created Day of the Living, which played at The Other Place as part of the RSC’s Mischief Festival in 2018.  She is the recipient of the Roland Rees Bursary 2019 named in honour of the co-founder of the Alfred Fagon Award and her play At The Gates of Gaza won the Writers' Guild Best Play Award in 2009.  

Talking about The Whip, Juliet said: “The 1833 Slavery abolition Act formally freed some 800,000 Caribbean slaves who were then the legal property of Britain’s slave owners. What is less well known is that the same act contained a provision for the financial compensation of the owners of those slaves, by the British taxpayer, for the loss of their “property”.

“In 2018 HM Treasury announced via a tweet on its Twitter-feed that the multi-billion slavery compensation bill, one of the biggest in UK history, had finally been paid off by British tax-payers in February 2015. Most Britons, including myself, had no idea we had been paying for this 182 years later.  There was a social media backlash over the glib nature of tweet which was subsequently deleted. I am a descendant of colonial slavery, so the row added further urgency and fire to my creative process in creating The Whip.”

Richard Clothier will return to the RSC to play Alexander Boyd. He has previously appeared in RSC productions including Troilus and Cressida, King Lear and The Merchant of Venice. His other theatre work includes Witness for the Prosecution (Eleanor Lloyd Productions); Hamlet (London Toast Theatre and HamletScenen); The Graduate (West Yorkshire Playhouse/Leicester Curve); The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With A Key To The Scriptures, Enlightenment (Hampstead Theatre) and The One That Got Away, The Mother and Play Strindberg (Ustinov, Bath).

Debbie Korley, currently appearing in the RSC production of A Museum in Baghdad, plays Mercy Pryce. Her other work at the RSC includes Tamburlaine, Timon of Athens and As You Like It. Other recent theatre includes Acceptance (Hampstead Theatre); King Lear (Talawa/Royal Exchange Theatre/Birmingham Rep); Cargo (Arcola Theatre); Welcome To Your Home, Prurience (Southbank Centre); Beowulf (Unicorn Theatre); Too Clever By Half (Told by an Idiot/Royal Exchange Theatre); Boi Boi is Dead (West Yorkshire Playhouse/Watford Palace); Black Jesus (Finborough Theatre); and Coram Boy (National Theatre).

Katherine Pearce continues her debut RSC season as Horatia. She is currently appearing in Eleanor Rhode’s production of King John as Cardinal Pandulph. Her previous theatre credits include Roundabout Season (Paines Plough); The Last Ballad of Lillian Billocca (Hull Truck): Low Level Panic (Orange Tree Theatre); Husbands and Sons, Port (National Theatre); Husbands and Sons, Our Pals (Royal Exchange); Early Doors (Not Too Tame); Secret Theatre: Stab in The Dark, Chamber Piece, A Streetcar Named Desire and Woyzeck (Lyric Hammersmith).

Further cast includes: Michael Abubakar, David Birrell (Lord Maybourne), John Cummins (Cornelius Hyde Villiers), Nicholas Gerard-Martin (William Purnell), Nadi Kemp-Sayfi, Tom McCall (Anthony Bradshaw Cooper), Corey Montague-Sholay (Edmund), Riad Richie (The Speaker) and Bridgitta Roy.

Joining Kimberley Sykes on the creative team are Ciaran Bagnall (Set & Lighting Designer), Nicky Shaw (Costume Designer), Akintayo Akinbode (Music), Claire Windsor (Sound), Coral Messam (Movement) and Kev McCurdy (Fights).


For further information on the RSC Winter 2019 season, please contact:

Kate Evans 01789 412622 or 07920 244434

For review tickets, please contact Dean Asker

For press images, please register free of charge at

Booking information:

BOOKING: 01789 331111 or


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.

Miranda Curtis - Season Supporter, Swan Theatre Winter 2019

The work of Juliet Gilkes Romero was supported through our collaboration with the University of Birmingham

King John is supported by RSC Production Circle member Marcia Whitaker

The RSC Acting Companies are generously supported by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Kovner Foundation

The work of the RSC Literary Department is generously supported by The Drue and H.J. Heinz II 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.  

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.

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.  Registered charity no. 212481

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