Benedict Lombe’s 'Shifters' to open in the West End

Benedict Lombe will become the third Black British female playwright to have her play staged in the West End, following Natasha Gordon and Yasmin Joseph.

Olivia Rook
Olivia Rook

Benedict Lombe’s Shifters will transfer to the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End this summer following a run at the Bush Theatre earlier this year. Lombe will become the third Black British female playwright to have her play staged in the West End.

Heather Agyepong (School Girls; or The African Mean Girls Play) and Tosin Cole (Supacell, Doctor Who) will reprise their roles as young lovers Des and Dre.

Shifters tells the sprawling love story of Dre and Des, who fall in and out of each other’s lives, carrying new secrets and old scars.

Benedict Lombe, who won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Lava in 2022, said: "Shifters’ transfer is a big moment. Our dreamy, tender, unrepentantly romantic show about two lost souls finding a connection that can't be forgotten was a hit with Bush audiences. Now we get to recreate our magic on a bigger stage! I hope what Shifters does – as well as invite new audiences to fall in love with Des and Dre – is accelerate the pace for the next wave of Black British female playwrights in the West End.”

Bush Theatre artistic director, and director of the show, Lynette Linton said: ”We're incredibly proud that Shifters is moving from the Bush to the West End - our second transfer this year. At the Bush we’re all about supporting writers to build sustainable careers, and we’ve loved working with Benedict over three commissions. Benedict writes dialogue and romance in a way that no one else can, and it is my privilege to get to direct her words and reunite with Heather and Tosin. We are so excited to tell this story of Black love on such a big platform - I can't wait for audiences to discover the beauty in this tender, funny and relatable show that is the perfect summer romance.”

Heather Agyepong commented: “Shows written by Black British women or plays centering two dark skin leads often don’t reach West End stages so it really feels like we’re part of a legacy. Our stories in all their nuance and beauty have always mattered but it’s great to be on a bigger platform to allow them to shine a little brighter.”

Tosin Cole added: “It’s an honour to have Shifters transfer to the West End. I’m really excited for a second chance to tell this amazing story and to work with this group of talented people again.”

The rest of the creative team includes set and costume design by Alex Berry, lighting design by Neil Austin, sound design by Tony Gayle, composition by Xana, movement and intimacy direction by Shelley Maxwell, production dramaturg is Deirdre O’Halloran, and voice coach is Joel Trill.

Check back for Shifters tickets on London Theatre.

Photo credit: Shifters at the Bush Theatre. (Photo by Craig Fuller)

Originally published on

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