Alan Ayckbourn's The Divide to open at the Old Vic in 2018

Alan Ayckbourn's new play The Divide will open at The Old Vic in 2018 following its run at the Edinburgh International Festival in August.

The play, which is presented in two parts, is a dystopian tale set one hundred years in the future in the aftermath of a deadly contagion. The virus has almost wiped out the English population and has made contact between men and women fatal. A preacher has become the dictator of the land and enforces a solution which sees the survivors segregated by gender – the ‘pure’ men wear white and the women, who are still infected, wear black.

The Divide follows a brother and sister, Elihu and Soween, who grow up learning about this separation. As the story unfolds, Elihu risks disease by falling for Giella, and in doing so starts a bloody uprising. The Divide is described as a ‘dystopian future defined by brutal repression and forbidden love.’

Ayckbourn’s play premieres at the King’s Theatre for a two week run next month as part of Edinburgh International Festival, and will run at The Old Vic from 3rd to 10th February, with previews from 30th January.

Erin Doherty, whose theatre credits include Lights Out at the Royal Court, will play Soween and Jake Davies (Beautiful Thing, Arts Theatre) will play Elihu.

The cast also includes Clare Burt, Thusitha Jayasundera, Richard Katz, Joanne McGuiness, Sophie Melville, Clare Lawrence Moody, Weruche Opia, Martin Quinn, Letty Thomas and Sian Thomas.

Matthew Warchus, artistic director at the theatre, said: "Alan Ayckbourn is of course famous for his domestic tragi-comedies. It is perhaps overlooked the extent to which he is a great and perpetual experimenter with form… Now as he turns 78 he delivers an extraordinary piece of writing which arguably may not even be a play - The Divide - described on its title page as 'a dramatic narrative for voices'."

This year mark Ayckbourn’s 56th year as a theatre director, and his 58th as a playwright. He is best-known for his plays Relatively Speaking, How the Other Half Loves, and Absurd Person Singular. He was the artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre for 36 years until 2009, and he will direct a revival of By Jeeves, a musical he wrote with Andrew Lloyd Webber, later this year. Annabel Bolton, associate director of The Old Vic, will direct.

Tickets for The Divide Part 1 and The Divide Part 2 are on sale now.

Photo credit: Rosmarie Voegtli (Flickr)

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