In a remote residential estate of summer cottages, men are dying under mysterious circumstances in the middle of winter. The local Janina Duszejko, a former bridge engineer, teacher, astrologer and passionate translator of William Blake’s poetry, suspects that the animals of the forest are taking revenge on those people who fail to respect animal lives. Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, published her feminist crime novel Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead back in 2009. Given the backdrop of new forms of eco activism and environmental protest, it is a work of unsettling explosiveness. Together with a ten-member ensemble, British theatre maker Simon McBurney, who last appeared at the Wiener Festwochen in 2016 with The Encounter, takes up the novel’s questioning themes and adapts the material for the stage. Indeed, the question is not how far we ought to go in our bid for an empathetic relationship with nature, but how far we must go.
Adapted from the novel by Olga Tokarczuk Direction Simon McBurney With Thomas Arnold, Johannes Flaschberger, Amanda Hadingue, Kathryn Hunter, Kiren Kebaili-Dwyer, Weronika Maria, Tim McMullan, César Sarachu, Sophie Steer, Alexander Uzoka Set design, Costumes Rae Smith Light design Paule Constable Sound design Christopher Shutt Video design Dick Straker Dramaturgy Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre, Laurence Cook Movement Direction Toby Sedgwick Original compositions Richard Skelton Translation Antonia Lloyd-Jones (English) Assistant direction Gemma Brockis Costumes assistance Johanna Coe Wigs Susanna Peretz CDG Casting Amy Bell Artwork Patryk Hardziej
Production Complicité Coproduction Barbican Centre (London), Belgrade Theatre (Coventry), Bristol Old Vic, Holland Festival (Amsterdam), Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe (Paris), The Lowry (Salford), The National Theatre of Iceland, Oxford Playhouse, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, Theatre Royal Plymouth Thanks to the Mirisch & Lebenheim Charitable Foundation Funded by Backstage Trust
Premiere December 2022, Theatre Royal Plymouth