Autumn/winter season at The Old Red Lion

London theatre news: Tuesday 17 September 2019

Off-West End - Seasons

The Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington has announced its 40th autumn/winter season which runs through to February 1 next year.
Exterior photo of the Old Red Lion Theatre, Islington, London

Photo: Peter Brown 2014

The nights may already be drawing-in and getting chillier, but there's plenty of warming theatre coming up in Islington with The Old Red Lion Theatre announcing its 40th autumn/winter season ...

It opens with a frighteningly timely new revival of Peter Hamilton's DANELAW, five new plays - including two world premieres for the London Horror Festival - and two adaptations of literary classics as part of the theatre's Christmas Festival. 

Kiking-off the season is DANELAW, a grisly tale of British neo-Nazis inspired by true events.

The play follows racist football thug, Cliff, as he is approached by a mysterious man who offers him the chance to re-establish the Golden Age of Viking rule.

And so begins a darkly-comic tragedy of violence and death directed by former Old Red Lion Artistic Director, Ken McClymont.

The London Horror Festival returns to its suitably spooky home with Last Orders: The Haunting of the Old Red Lion, a docu-play based on the venue itself.

Since 1415 the Old Red Lion pub has welcomed countless visitors through its doors and, according to legend, some never left …

The Knock Knock Club will present their findings from months of archival research and paranormal investigations to willing audiences this October.

Closing the London Horror Festival is EDRED, THE VAMPYRE, a new play from David Pinner, the author of the novel RITUAL that inspired the cult movie THE WICKER MAN.

Edred is a thousand-year-old bisexual Anglo-Saxon vampire, who slept with Shakespeare but never bit him.

Combining ironic humour with mystery, suspense and insidious menace, EDRED is the latest offering in Pinner's wealth of contributions to Gothic literature.

Kathryn O'Reilly returns to the Old Red's stage, following her award-winning performance in Paul Westwood's Skin In The Game, with her new play Poisoned Polluted.

In this stark, bold, powerful and poetic drama two sisters struggle to survive in the wake of a toxic childhood and the cycles of drug abuse.

Christmas Festival

To celebrate the end of the theatre's 40th anniversary year, a Christmas Festival will host four plays that each showcase original work created by talented emerging artists.

This will include a new production of Uncle Vanya adapted through a female lens while addressing environmental conservation, quirky and comical murder mystery The Exceptional Case of Whizz and Drex, heartfelt and humorous new play BLOOD ORANGE following a Junior Doctor at Christmas in A&E, and a fresh new adaptation of The Signalman - after all, what's Christmas without a ghost story, or Dickens for that matter?

Drawing the winter season to a close is Rosalind Blessed's 'Tales From Behind the Twitching Curtain', two very dark comedies: The Delights of Dogs and the Problems of People - two souls are lost as a marriage descends into abuse; and Lullabies for the Lost - eight souls are found as they tell their secrets.

The two plays will run in rep throughout January... and both plays have a dog!

Artistic Director, Katy Danbury, said ...

"I am proud to see the Old Red Lion's 40th anniversary out with equal gender representation across the final season and a celebration of both young and established playwrights.

Audiences are sure to be left feeling dazzled, horrified and jolly as they journey through the many, varied stories that will play before them in the coming months.

The absurdity of racist rhetoric is pushed to extremes in one tale based on a true story, our belief in the paranormal tested in the next; mental health importantly takes centre stage in both poetic and comic forms, and a famous text is re-imagined to consider our impact on the planet.

So, whether you're looking for laughs, hard-hitting drama or seeking a delightfully spooky experience, this season is sure to accommodate your entertainment needs."

Here are the shows in the season ...


by Peter Hamilton

Directed by Ken McClymont

September 17 to October 5

Last Orders: The Haunting of the Old Red Lion

by The Knock Knock Club

Devised by The Knock Knock Club

Playing as part of the London Horror Festival

October 8 - 26


by David Pinner

Directed by Anthony Shrubsall

Playing as part of the London Horror Festival

October 28 to November 2

Poisoned Polluted

by Kathryn O'Reilly

Directed by Lucy Allan

November 5 to 30

Uncle Vanya

adapted from Anton Chekhov by Venetia Twigg

Playing as part of the Christmas Festival

Directed by Nadia Papachronopoulou

December 2 to 7

The Exceptional Case of Whizz and Drex

by Fred Kelly

Playing as part of the Christmas Festival

Directed by Fred Kelly

December 2 to 7


by Tania Amsel

Playing as part of the Christmas Festival

Directed by Hamish MacDougall

December 10 to January 4

The Signalman

adapted from Charles Dickens by Martin Malcolm

Playing as part of the Christmas Festival

Directed by Sam Raffal

December 10 to January 4

Tales From Behind the Twitching Curtain

by Rosalind Blessed

The Delights of Dogs and the Problems of People

Directed by Caroline Devlin

Lullabies for the Lost

Directed by Zoé Ford Burnett

January 7 to February 1 (plays alternating dates)


Old Red Lion Theatre

418 St John Street

London EC1V 4NJ

Season dates

September 17 2019 to February 1 2020


Old Red Lion website

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