The Dark Earth and the Light Sky, Almeida Theatre, London
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World Premiere

The Dark Earth and the Light Sky

by Nick Dear
Tue 13 Nov 2012 - Sat 12 Jan 2013

"Or must I be content with discontent
As larks and swallows are perhaps with wings?"
The Glory, Edward Thomas

Deep in the Hampshire countryside Edward Thomas scrapes a living; disaffected husband, exhausted father and tormented writer. Then in 1913 he meets American poet Robert Frost and everything changes. As their friendship blossoms Edward writes, emerging from his cocoon of self-doubt into one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century.

On the verge of success he makes the drastic decision to enlist, confounding his friends and family. The Dark Earth and the Light Sky delves into the life of this enigmatic and complex character in an era of change and destruction. 

Nick Dear recently adapted the highly acclaimed Frankenstein at the National Theatre. His other plays include Power, Zenobia and The Art of Success. His screenplays include Byron, Eroica and Persuasion.

Award-winning director Richard Eyre’s most recent theatre credits include Private Lives in the West End and The Reporter at the National Theatre. For film and television he has directed amongst others, Notes on a Scandal, Iris and the forthcoming Henry IV Parts I and II for the BBC.

  • - Pip Carter (Edward) and Shaun Dooley (Robert). Photo Nobby Clark.
  • - Hattie Morahan (Helen). Photo Nobby Clark.
  • - Pandora Colin (Eleanor) and Shaun Dooley (Robert). Photo Nobby Clark.
  • - Ifan Huw Dafydd (Philip). Photo Nobby Clark.
  • - Dan Poole (Bott). Photo Nobby Clark.
  • - Shaun Dooley (Robert). Photo Nobby Clark.


Pip Carter
Edward Thomas

Theatre includes: Posh (Duke of York’s Theatre); The Cherry Orchard; The White Guard; Gethsemane; Never So Good; The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other; Present Laughter (National Theatre); Tiger Country (Hampstead Theatre); Joseph K (Gate Theatre). 

Television includes: Henry IV Parts I & II; Neverland; Christopher and His Kind; Lewis; John Adams; Party Animals.

Film includes: That Syncing Feeling; The Eagle; Robin Hood; The Devil’s Wedding.


Pandora Colin
Eleanor Farjeon

For the Almeida: The House of Bernarda Alba.

Theatre includes: After the Dance; Every Good Boy Deserves Favour; Some Trace of Her; Women of Troy (National Theatre); Sixty-Six Books; If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet (Bush Theatre); Kindertransport; The Kiss (Hampstead Theatre); Mariana Pineda (Arcola Theatre); Serious Money (Birmingham Repertory Theatre); Stephen and the Sexy Partridge (Trafalger Studios / Old Red Lion); Natural Selection (Theatre 503); You Might as Well Live (New End Theatre/Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh); Flanders Mare (Sound Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing (Salisbury Playhouse); Design for Living; Fight for Barbara (Theatre Royal Bath); Julius Caesar (Cynergy Theatre Company at Wansworth Prison); Man of Mode (Northcott Theatre Exeter); The Country Wife (Sheffield Crucible).

Television includes: Mr Selfridge; Titanic; Doctors; Life Begins; Black Books; Coupling; Hotel Babylon; NY-LON; Watermelon; Comedy Lab: The Pooters; Extremely Dangerous; The Dark Room; Close Relations; The Peter Principle; Wycliffe; Casualty; In Your Dreams; The Bill; Tears Before Bedtime.

Film includes: I Give It a Year; Run, Fatboy, Run; A Bunch of Amateurs; Max; What Rats Won’t Do; Trouble Brewing (short); Checkout Girl (short).

Radio includes: The Happiness Foundation; Book at Bedtime: Summer Crossing; The Art of Deception.

Ifan Huw Dafydd
Philip Thomas

Theatre includes: As You Like It; Blackthorn; Festen; History of Falling Things; Rape of the Fair Country; A Christmas Carol; Afore Night Come; King Lear; Twelfth Night; Macbeth; Under Milkwood; Songs of the Earth; Hard Times; Accidental Death of an Anarchist; Dance of Death (Clwyd Theatre Cmru); Rosencranz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Tour); Desire Lines (Sherman Theatre); The Indian Queen (Glasgow Citizens’ Theatre); Memory (Clwyd Theatre Cmru / 59th St. Theatre, New York).

Television includes: Gavin and Stacey; Sherlock; Martha, Jac A Sianco; The Indian Doctor; Coma Girl; Stella; Alys; Rise of the Gargoyles; Holby City; Midsomer Murders; Stick or Twist; Con Passionate; Belonging; The Last Detective; Foyle’s War; In Deep; Hearts of Gold; Care; House; Heartburn Hotel; The Silent Twins; Gadael Lenin; The Bullion Boys; The Life and Death of Phillip Knight; Coming Up Roses; Butterfly; Pobol y Cwm; Drovers’ Gold; The Proposition; Mortimer’s Law.

Film includes:
Seasons of Mist; Abraham’s Point; I Know You Know; Daddy’s Girl.

Ifan won the Welsh BAFTA for Best Actor for Martha, Jac A Sianco.

Shaun Dooley
Robert Frost

Theatre includes: BLOK/EKO (The Wrestling School); Stovepipe (Hightide Festival); Summer Begins (Iceni Productions); The White Devil (Lyric Hammersmith); Making Noise Quietly (Oxford Stage Company); Kiss of the Spider Woman (Nottingham Playhouse); The Glass Menagerie (Palace Theatre, Watford); Brassed Off (Sheffield Theatres / National Theatre); Early Morning; The Arbor; Marat/Sade (National Theatre); United on a Wednesday Night (Sheffield Crucible).

Television includes: Misfits; Tatt; Benidorm; Great Expectations; The Borrowers; Postcode; Sugartown; Exile; Hustle; The Road to Coronation Street; The Accidental Farmer; South Riding; Moving On – Skies of Glass; Inspector George Gently; Five Days; Married. Single. Other…; Silent Witness; Harley Street; Apparitions; Midsomer Murders; An Accident Waiting to Happen; Mobile; Strictly Confidential; The Bill; Vital Signs; The Street; Heavenly Father; Rosemary and Thyme; Child of Mine; The Ghost Squad; Vincent; Holby City; New Tricks; Murphy’s Law; The Royal; Foyle’s War; POW; Eastenders; Shackletown; Warriors; Peak Practice; Coronation Street; Dalziel & Pascoe; The Grand.

Film includes: Offender; The Woman in Black; The Awakening; Junkhearts; Red Riding Triology; Kandahar Break; Salvage; The Appointment; Eden Lake; Mark of Cain; Pitch Perfect; Mathilde; Plain Jane; Groove on a Stanley Knife.   

Shaun received the Royal Television Society North Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Mark of Cain.

Hattie Morahan
Helen Thomas

Theatre includes:
A Doll’s House (Young Vic); Plenty (Sheffield Crucible); The Real Thing (Old Vic); Three More Sleepless Nights; Time and the Conways; Some Trace of Her; The Seagull; Iphigenia at Aulis; Power (National Theatre); The Family Reunion (Donmar Warehouse); The City (Royal Court); Night of the Soul; Prisoner’s Dilemma; Hamlet; Love in a Wood (RSC); See How They Run (tour / ACT Productions); Twelfth Night (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Singer (Tricycle / Oxford Stage). 

Television includes: Eternal Law; Lewis; Lark Rise to Candleford; Money; Outnumbered; Marple; Trial and Retribution; Bike Squad; Sense and Sensibility; Bodies; New Tricks; The Peacock Spring.

Film includes: The Visit; Summer in February; Having You; The Golden Compass; The Bank Job; Out of Time; Good Boy; Love Hate.

Dan Poole
Bott / Major Lushington

Theatre includes: What You Will (Globe Theatre); Jerusalem (Royal Court); The Man Outside (Theatre Royal Haymarket); Permission to Play (Globe Theatre); Sweet Dumpling (Chichester Festival Theatre); Bear V Shark; Flat 1; With Gods (Forbidden TC); The Ofsted Inspector (Passion Fish Productions); When It's Ajar (Trouserpress Theatre); Hippo Roundabout; Stressed (Hen and Chickens Theatre); Pinocchio; Brokenville; The Moves; Poor Ted (ONO Theatre Co.); Epic (Epic Productions).

Television includes: Flat White; Katy Brand’s Big Ass Show; The Commuter.

Film includes: One Day Some Years Ago; Batman Begins; A Kind of Hush; Chronic; Unarmed and Dangerous; Money Trouble; Stan’s Slice of Life; Big Enough for 3; Carousel; Thanks for Nothing; Ed’s Bed.

Dan directed and produced the forthcoming documentary film Muse of Fire.

Writer Nick Dear
Director Richard Eyre
Design Bob Crowley
Lighting Peter Mumford
Sound and Music John Leonard
Casting Cara Beckinsale
Dialect Jill McCullough
Voice Gareth Valentine
Movement Scarlett Mackmin
Assistant Director Ed Viney

Nick Dear

Nick has written for theatre, screen and radio. His adaptation of Frankenstein premiered at the National Theatre in 2011, directed by Danny Boyle.

For the Almeida: Siren Song (Almeida Opera); Food of Love (Complicite).

Theatre includes: Frankenstein; Lunch in Venice; Power; The Villains’ Opera; Summerfolk; Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (National Theatre); In the Ruins (Bristol Old Vic); Zenobia; The Art of Success; Pure Science; Temptation; The Last Days of Don Juan (RSC); The Promise (Tricycle); A Family Affair (Cheek by Jowl).

Television includes: Persuasion; The Turn of the Screw; Cinderella; Byron; Eroica; Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

Film includes: The Gambler.

Opera includes: The Palace in the Sky (English National Opera / Hackney Empire).

Nick received a BAFTA in 1996 for his television adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and the Prix Italia for Eroica in 2003.

Richard Eyre

Richard was Director of the National Theatre from 1988 – 1997. He has received numerous major awards; he was knighted in 1997 and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2011.

For the Almeida: The Judas Kiss; The Novice; Hedda Gabler.

Theatre includes: Hamlet; Kafka’s Dick; Edmond (Royal Court); Comedians; Guys and Dolls; The Beggar’s Opera; The Government Inspector; The Voysey Inheritance; Racing Demon; Richard III; Night of the IguanaWhite Chameleon; SkylightNapoli MilionariaSweet Bird of Youth; The Absence of War; John Gabriel BorkmanAmy’s View; King Lear; The Invention of Love; Vincent in Brixton; The Reporter; The Observer; Welcome to Thebes (National Theatre); The Crucible (Broadway); Mary Poppins (West End / Broadway); Private Lives (West End / Broadway); A Flea in Her Ear (Old Vic); The Last of the Duchess (Hampstead Theatre).

Opera: La Traviata (RoH); Le Nozze di Figaro (Aix-en-Provence); Carmen (Metropolitan Opera).

Television includes: The Insurance Man; Country; Tumbledown; Suddenly Last Summer; Changing Stages; Henry IV Parts I and II.

Film includes: The Ploughman’s Lunch; Iris; Stage Beauty; Notes on a Scandal.

Richard is the author of Utopia and Other Places, a memoir; National Service, a journal of his time at the National Theatre, and Talking Theatre, conversations with theatre people

Bob Crowley

Bob previously designed for the Almeida’s productions of The Iceman Cometh and Moonlight. He has designed more than twenty-five productions for the RSC including Les Liaisons Dangereuses and The Plantaganets winning him an Olivier Award. He is a recipient of the Royal Designer for Industry Award.

Other theatre includes: Into the Woods, Orpheus Descending (Donmar Warehouse); Don Carlos (MET); Pavane and Anastasia (Royal Ballet); La Traviata (Royal Opera House); The Magic Flute (English National Opera); The Cunning Little Vixen (Châtelet); The Coast of Utopia & Carousel (Lincoln Center Theatre); The Seagull (Public Theatre New York); The Capeman, The Sweet Smell of Success, Disney’s Aida, Disney’s Tarzan; Mary Poppins; The Year of Magical Thinking and Once (all on Broadway).

Peter Mumford

For the Almeida: Parlour Song; Rosmersholm; Hedda Gabler; Cloud Nine; The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?; Earth and the Great Weather; The Storm; Venice Preserved; The Winter Guest; The School for Wives. 

Theatre includes: Top Hat; Absent Friends; Much Ado about Nothing; The Lion in Winter; The Misanthrope; An Ideal Husband; Carousel; Fiddler on the Roof (West End); Jumpy; Our Private Life; Sucker Punch; Cock; The Seagull; Drunk Enough to Say I Love You (Royal Court); Betrayal (Sheffield Crucible); The Last of the Duchess (Hampstead Theatre); Heartbreak House (Chichester Festival Theatre); Pictures from an Exhibition (Young Vic); Scenes from an Execution; All’s Well That Ends Well; The Hothouse; Exiles (National Theatre).

Opera and dance includes: Bluebeard’s Castle; Madam Butterfly (English National Opera) Faster, E=MC² (Birmingham Royal Ballet); Pelleas and Melisande (Mariinsky); The Bartered Bride (Royal Opera House). He is currently directing/designing a concert version of The Ring Cycle for Opera North.

Peter received the 1995 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance for The Glass Blew In (Siobahn Davies) and Fearful Symmetries (Royal Ballet), the 2003 Olivier Lighting Award for The Bacchai (National Theatre) and the Knight of Illumination Award in 2010 for Sucker Punch (Royal Court).

John Leonard
Sound and Music

For the Almeida: Filumena; Measure For Measure; Rope; Duet for One; Waste; The Homecoming; Big White Fog; Dying For It; Hedda Gabler; Macbeth; Brighton Rock; Whistling Psyche; Five Gold Rings; The Mercy Seat; I.D. and many others.

Recent theatre includes: Farewell To The Theatre; The Last Of The Duchess; Skåne; The Train Driver (Hampstead Theatre); The Lady From The Sea; The Snow Queen (Rose Theatre, Kingston); The Heresy Of Love (RSC); Grief; London Assurance; The Power of Yes; England People Very Nice; Much Ado About Nothing; The Enchantment (National Theatre); Calendar Girls; Carrie’s War; In Celebration; Kean; Donkey’s Years; Summer & Smoke; Glengarry Glen Ross (West End); Big Maggie; The Cripple Of Inishmaan (Druid Theatre, Galway / New York / tour); Small Craft Warning; Crazy Paola (Arcola Theatre); A Month In The Country (Salisbury Playhouse); Calendar Girls (Chichester / national tour); Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Druid Theatre, Galway / Dublin); Pure Gold (Soho Theatre); Translations (Princeton / Broadway); Leaves; Empress of India; The Druid Synge (Druid Theatre, Galway / Dublin/ Edinburgh / Minneapolis / New York).

Cara Beckinsale

Theatre includes: Chariots of Fire (West End second cast); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Judas Kiss; The Last of the Duchess (Hampstead Theatre).

Television includesBig Bad World; Coma Girl; Stella; Vexed; A Touch of Frost; The Time of Your Life; The State Within; Beneath the Skin; Recovery.

Film includes: Forget Me Not; Gin and Dry; Dyatlov Pass Incident; Creation; The Nutcracker; The Secret of Moonacre; Mr Bean’s Holiday; Good.

Jill McCullough

Jill was an adjunct professor at Yale University and ran the world’s first dialect summer school at Central School of Speech and Drama.

For the Almeida: A Delicate BalanceWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 

Theatre includes:
 The Body GuardThe Sunshine BoysIn a Forest Dark and DeepThe Misanthrope; Betty Blue EyesOliverSophie’s ChoicePhantom of the OperaThis is Our YouthWe Will Rock YouLes Miserables; A View from the Bridge; Three Tall Women; Three Days of Rain; On an Average Day; Sexual Perversity in Chicago; The Beautiful Game;  (West End); Cause Celebre; Inherit the Wind (Old Vic); Boston Marriage (Donmar Warehouse); Hitchcock Blonde (Royal Court).

Film includes: SkyfallJack Ryan; About TimeAnna KareninaThe Iron LadyA Dangerous MethodOne DayJane EyreTinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpyEndgameChildren of MenYoung Victoria; Wanted; JunkheartsLate BloomersHannaFive Days of WarCemetery JunctionThe DuchessIroncladFred ClausElizabeth: The Golden AgeThe Mighty CeltSahara Pride and PrejudiceThe Other Boleyn GirlThe Letters; Vanity FairPenelopeAlbatrossNational TreasureAustin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged MeSin CityStardustHeartlandsStone of DestinyKing ArthurThe Phantom of the OperaFlawlessCinderella Man.


Gareth Valentine 

Musical Supervision includes: Kiss Me Kate (Chichester / Old Vic); Crazy For You (Open Air Theatre / Novello); End of the Rainbow (Trafalgar Studios);The King and I (Royal Albert Hall, RPO);  Into the Woods (Open Air Theatre); Merrily We Roll Along; Company; Wicked; Porgy and Bess (West End); Acorn Antiques (West End / UK Tour); Aladdin (also Composer - Old Vic); Children Will Listen: The Words and Music of Stephen Sondheim (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane); Anything Goes (also dance arranger and musical director - Drury Lane / National Theatre);Tonight’s the Night (also dance arranger - Victoria Palace); My One and Only (Piccadilly Theatre).

As Musical Director:  Kiss Me KateCamelot; Kiss of the Spider WomanMiss SaigonThe Baker’s Wife; Cats Cabaret42nd Street; Windy City (West End); Chicago (West End / Tour); Nine; Merrily We Roll Along; Damn Yankees; Company (Donmar Warehouse).

Gareth conducted Brynfest this year at the Royal Festival Hall with Bryn Terfel and WNO Orchestra. He was commissioned by ENB to write and conduct a ballet, Strictly Gershwin (2008), which was performed at the Albert Hall and Coliseum to great acclaim.

Ed Viney
Assistant Director

Ed was Director in Residence at the National Theatre Studio and Creative Associate at the Bush Theatre. He recently adapted for the stage and directed The Dolphin Crossing.

Theatre includesDanger: Memory! (Jermyn Street Theatre); Hard Times (Tobacco Factory Theatre); The Well-Made Life (Arcola Theatre); Rum and Vodka (Brewery Theatre/Hull Truck/Manchester Royal Exchange); Script Factory (Ustinov Studio).

Ed trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. 

"…outstanding and deeply moving…exquisitely staged and acted."
Kate Bassett, Independent on Sunday, 18 November 2012
Read full review

"Pip Carter is superb… A remarkable, elegiac production"
Mail on Sunday, 25 November 2012

"Like Thomas's poetry, Richard Eyre's production is deceptively simple and deeply felt"
The Sunday Times, 25 November 2012

"Nick Dear’s deep, deft new play…An unforgettably haunting evening."
Libby Purves, The Times, 16 November 2012
Read full review (you may not be able to view this article without a Times subscription)

"Probing, intelligent… there is absolute clarity to Richard Eyre’s excellent production."
Michael Billington, The Guardian, 16 November 2012
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"Richard Eyre’s simple and beautiful production…searching and deeply felt."
Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2012
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"…encapsulates everything that is cherishable about our world-envied subsidised theatre sector: a rich and layered piece of new writing."
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard, 16 November 2012
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"Timely and poignant."
Quentin Letts, Daily Mail, 16 November 2012
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"Richard Eyre's spare, exquisitely modulated production..."
Paul Taylor, The Independent, 16 November 2012
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"Pip Carter is wonderful as Edward, a touchy yet oddly loveable depressive, as is Hattie Morahan as his fiery yet devoted wife."
Nina Caplan, Time Out, 16 November 2012  
Read full review

"Shaun Dooley’s bitter Frost is a self-assured foil to Pip Carter’s wonderfully insecure and sympathetic Thomas…probably too unassuming to win any awards, but awards are what it deserves."
Whatsonstage, 16 November 2012


"Utterly absorbing."
Susannah Clapp, The Observer, 25 November 2012

"Hattie Morahan shows again what a magnetic stage presence she has."
The Arts Desk, 16 Novembe 2012
"Pandora Colin twinkles infectiously…while Hattie Morahan is electric as the free-thinking, volatile Helen…gut-wrenching."
Simon Edge, Daily Express, 16 November 2012


"As near to a perfect production as I can imagine. Six faultless performances of a masterly script."

"Very engaging."

"Deeply moving and beautifully done."

"The acting is truly great."

"Enthralling, sensitive, beautiful."

"Superb set, brilliantly lit, razor-sharp direction."

"It is a real gem. I will urge all discerning theatregoers not to miss it!"



Previews Thu 8 - Wed 14 November
Press Night Thu 15 November (7pm)

Evening performances 7.30pm
Saturday matinees 2.30pm from 17 November
Wednesday matinees 2.30pm on 28 November and 9 January

Running time is approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes including a 15 minute interval

This production contains occasional loud explosion effects

There will be no performances on 24, 25, 26 or 31 December

Happy Mondays 12 November
Talkback Tue 11 December
(post performance with speech-to-text transcription)


Dark Earth and Light Sky | Dates and Tickets | Captioned Captioned Tue 11 December, 7.30pm
Audio-described Sat 15 December, 2.30pm (Touch Tour at 1pm)


£8, £16, £24, £32
See seating plan for further details

£8, £16, £22, £26

Concessions* (Jobseekers Allowance, Full-Time Students, Over 60s)
Mon – Thu evenings £16 (normal price £22 / £24)
Wed & Sat matinees £16 (any seat in the house)

Deaf and disabled patrons*
All performances £16 (any seat in the house)

Islington First* Discounted tickets if you live or work in Islington
Thu 8 - Sat 17 November £20 (best available)
More info

Under 30s*
Valid on all Mondays of the run £16 (best available)
More info

Young Friends of the Almeida
Happy Mondays £5
More info

Educational Group Bookings
Partner schools £12
Other UK state schools £20
Visit the Education section of our website to find out more

*All concessions are subject to availability and proof of eligibility must be presented when booking and collecting tickets.


Arts Council England ASP Group