Get to know 'The Lehman Trilogy' creative team in the West End

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

One of the big British success stories at this year’s Tony Awards was The Lehman Trilogy — a play that premiered at London’s National Theatre and went on to run in the West End. In fact, it’s returning to the West End in 2023, freshly garlanded with Tonys for Best Play, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play (Simon Russell Beale), Best Direction of a Play (Sam Mendes), Best Scenic Design of a Play (Es Devlin), and Best Lighting Design of a Play (Jon Clark).

That wealth of prizes across the board highlights the show’s remarkable creative team. This is pure theatre: storytelling with just three actors that employs vital contributions from every practitioner in order to conjure up different time periods, locations and moods. That really speaks to the carefully supported development process at the National Theatre, nurturing not just new writing but innovative design elements as well.

As The Lehman Trilogy makes its triumphant homecoming, find out more about each member of this incredible team and plan your trip to see the multi-Tony-winning production at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in London.

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Sam Mendes, director

The wunderkind made his West End debut aged just 24, directing Judi Dench in The Cherry Orchard, then he became the first artistic director at London’s fashionable Donmar Warehouse in 1992. There he helmed buzzy shows like Cabaret and an Olivier Award-winning revival of Company. More Oliviers followed: for Twelfth Night/Uncle Vanya, and West End play The Ferryman (which also scored him a Tony on its Broadway transfer).

Mendes made a phenomenal film directorial debut in 1999 with American Beauty, winning the Academy Award, Bafta and Golden Globe. His subsequent films include Revolutionary Road, James Bond hits Skyfall and Spectre, the award-winning war movie 1917, and his latest release Empire of Light.

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Ben Power, adaptor

Power did an extraordinary job to distil the original five-hour Lehman Trilogy into a taut three-hour show. His early work includes dramaturgy for Complicite’s Olivier-winning A Disappearing Number, and he was the first associate director for Headlong. He became associate director of the National Theatre in 2010 and then was deputy artistic director from 2014-19. He commissioned more than 70 world premieres, and adapted shows like Medea.

Power also contributed several screenplays to the BBC’s Bafta-nominated Shakespeare series The Hollow Crown, and was the story producer on the acclaimed show I Hate Suzie. He wrote the screenplay for 2021 Netflix movie Munich: The Edge of War, and is currently in development with an original series for Working Title and Netflix.

Es Devlin, set designer

The versatile Devlin has had an incredible career in theatre and far beyond. She has won two Olivier Awards, and she designed sets for the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring Hamlet and for dance shows choreographed by Wayne McGregor and Akram Khan. She has also teamed up with musical icons like Kanye West, Adele, U2, Take That and Beyoncé, and supplied work for Superbowl halftime shows and Olympics opening ceremonies.

Devlin is a respected artist, too, creating the choral sculpture Come Home Again at Tate Modern, Memory Palace at Pitzhanger Manor, I Saw the World End at the Imperial War Museum, and Forest of Us at Superblue Miami. She was the subject of a Netflix documentary, Abstract: The Art of Design. You can also see her designs in The Crucible at the National Theatre.

Candida Caldicot, music director and pianist

The Lehman Trilogy would not be the same without the incredible live piano playing from Caldicot; she’s essentially a fourth cast member, as well as a key part of shifting the atmosphere throughout the epic tale. The talented Caldicot has a strong track record as a music director for theatre, working on numerous RSC productions, such as It’s a Mad World My Master’s, Hecuba and The Tempest, plus West End and Broadway shows like To Kill A Mockingbird, in which she also plays the organ.

Caldicot has composed original music for theatre as well. Her work includes The Little Prince for Metta Theatre, Buckets at the Orange Tree Theatre, The Hostage for Southwark Playhouse, and Treasure Island for Iris Theatre.

Katrina Lindsay, costume designer

Lindsay is an associate at the National Theatre, and much of her exemplary work comes from that venue. She supplied the wonderful costumes for shows like Small Island, London Road, Three Sisters, Hex, and Behind the Beautiful Forevers. However, she has had many successes in the West End too, winning an Olivier Award for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and picking up a nomination for musical Bend It Like Beckham.

Lindsay has also won two Tonys, for Cursed Child and Les Liaisons Dangereuses. She has designed for the RSC, the Royal Opera and English National Opera, and for dance shows at Sadler’s Wells. She has done set design, too, including for Sleeping Beauty at the Young Vic.

Jon Clark, lighting designer

Clark is another National Theatre regular. His lighting design for shows there includes Manor, Amadeus, As You Like It, Othello, The Beaux’ Stratagem, The Effect, and Women of Troy. He has also worked on multiple West End shows, such as The Shark is Broken, Betrayal, Cyrano de Bergerac, Doctor Faustus, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, plus musicals Made in Dagenham and The Commitments.

Clark won an Olivier Award for his lighting design for The Inheritance, and was Tony nominated for its Broadway transfer. Clark was also Olivier nominated for Three Days of Rain and King Charles III. He has worked with the RSC, the Royal Opera, Glyndebourne, and the Royal Ballet.

Polly Bennett, movement director

Bennett has become hugely in demand for her screen work as well as theatre. She was a vital movement coach to Rami Malek on Bohemian Rhapsody and James Bond film No Time to Die, to Austin Butler as Elvis, and to the casts of TV series like The Crown and The Great. Coming up, she’s working on the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody.

But Bennett has been an influential figure in theatre, too, helping to establish the respected role of movement director. Her numerous credits include Sweat at the Donmar Warehouse, Travesties in the West End and on Broadway, As You Like it at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and, at the National Theatre, Peter Gynt, The Deep Blue Sea, and People, Places & Things. She also worked on the London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

Luke Halls, video designer

Sophisticated video has become an increasingly intrinsic part of our theatre productions — including The Lehman Trilogy. Halls has definitely helped drive that trend with his exciting work in West End shows like Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Half a Sixpence, Mary Poppins, Miss Saigon, The Nether and Frozen, plus National Theatre plays like Ugly Lies the Bone, and West Side Story on Broadway.

Halls has brought his considerable skills to ballet and opera, too, and has also collaborated with leading pop stars. He worked on Beyoncé’s Formation tour, Adele’s 2016 world tour, Robbie Wiliams’s Take the Crown tour, Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia tour, and Rihanna and Nitin Sawhney performances at the BRIT and Grammy Awards. He also won a Bafta for ITV’s The Cube.

Nick Powell, composer and sound designer

The two time Tony-nominated sound designer, Nick Powell, creates a sweeping score for The Lehman Trilogy. He’s worked on some of the biggest plays in recent years: The Ferryman, Wolf Hall / Bring up the Bodies, as well as Shakespeare plays Othello at the National Theatre and Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre.

Powell also works for TV, film, and live events. He’s created live soundtrack for Prada fashion shows in Milan, and made albums for exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Dominic Bilkey, co-sound designer

Dominic Bilkey works alongside Powell as co-sound design on The Lehman Trilogy. In 2014, Bilkey won the Outstanding Achievement in Sound category at the Technical Theatre Award. Bilkey currently serves as head of sound and video at the National Theatre.

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Photo credit: The Lehman Trilogy, Sam Mendes in rehearsals, and The Lehman Trilogy creatives at the Tony Awards (Photos courtesy of production, photo by Mark Douet, and Getty for Tony Awards Productions respectively)

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