Parlour Song at the Almeida Theatre London

Parlour Song

By Jez Butterworth
Ticket prices: £6 - £29.5
Thu 19 Mar 2009 - Sat 9 May 2009

Demolition expert Ned lives in a nice new house on a nice new estate on the edge of the English countryside. He loves his job. Barbeques.Car Boot Sales. Outwardly his life is entirely unremarkable. Not unlike his friend and neighbour Dale.

So why has he not slept a wink in six months? Why is he so terrified of his attractive wife Joy?And why is it every time he leaves on business, something else goes missing from his home?

Parlour Song is a black, hilarious exploration of deceit, paranoia and murderous desire, as the spirit of the the Blues lands in leafy suburbia.

Jez Butterworth’s previous plays include the award-winning Mojo, The Night Heron and The Winterling which all premiered at the Royal Court Theatre. Long time collaborator and former Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre Ian Rickson directs.

  • AmandaandIanforweb.jpgAmandaandIanforweb.jpg
  • Amandaforweb2.jpgAmandaforweb2.jpg
  • Amandaprod1.jpgAmandaprod1.jpg
  • Amandaprod2.jpgAmandaprod2.jpg
  • AndyandTobyforweb2.jpgAndyandTobyforweb2.jpg
  • AndyandTobyforweb3.jpgAndyandTobyforweb3.jpg
Parlour Song - The Cast
Amanda Drew

Amanda Drew - Joy


Amanda has previously appeared at the Almeida Theatre in A Chain Play, Enemies and Dona Rosita The Spinster. Her other extensive theatre credits include Faces In The Crowd and The Ugly Ones at the Royal Court, Play at Battersea Arts Centre, Otherwise Engaged and Blithe Spirit in the West End, Eastwood Ho!, The Malcontent and The Roman Actor for the RSC/West End, and The House of Bernada Alba for Shared Experience. Her television work includes EastEnders, Golden Hour, The Bill, No Angels and Men Behaving Badly. Her film credits include The Other Man, This Year's Love and Mrs Dalloway.

Toby Jones

Toby Jones - Ned
Toby previously appeared in the Almeida Theatre production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. His recent theatre work includes The Dumb Waiter and other Pinter pieces at the Oxford Playhouse, Measure For Measure and The Walls for the National Theatre, The Play What I Wrote in the West End and on Broadway, and The Nativity at the Young Vic. His television credits include The Old Curiosity Shop, The Harlot's Progress, Elizabeth I, Loving Ludmilla and The Way We Live Now. His film credits include W, Frost/Nixon, City of Ember, St Trinian's, Amazing Grace, Infamous, The Painted Veil, Mrs Henderson Presents, Ladies in Lavender, Finding Neverland, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In January 2009 Toby can be seen in Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the National Theatre.
Andrew Lincoln

Andrew Lincoln - Dale


Andrew previously appeared at the Almeida Theatre in The Late Henry Moss. His other theatre credits include Free at the National Theatre, Blue/Orange at the National Theatre and in the West End, Hushabye Mountain for the Hampstead Theatre and on national tour, and Sugar Sugar for the Bush Theatre. His television work includes Wuthering Heights, Moonshot, The Things I Haven't Told You, Whose Baby?, Tell Me Lies, Teachers, Saving Grace and A Likeness in Stone. His film credits include Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Enduring Love, Love Actually, Offending Angel and Human Traffic.

Creative Team

Jez Butterworth - Writer

Jez Butterworth’s first play, Mojo opened at the Royal Court 1995 and subsequently won five drama awards including the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards for Most Promising Playwright Award and the Olivier Award for Best Comedy. He returned to the Royal Court in 2002 with The Night Heron and The Winterling (2006). Parlour Song received its world premeire at the Atlantic Theater in New York, directed by Neil Pepe with a cast including Jonathan Cake, Chris Bauer and Emily Mortimer. His films Mojo, starring Harold Pinter, and Birthday Girl, starring Nicole Kidman, were both shown at the Venice Film Festival. In 2007 he received the E.M. Forster Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Ian Rickson - Director

Ian Rickson has previously directed Jez Butterworth’s The Winterling, The Night Heron and Mojo. Rickson was Artistic Director of the Royal Court from 1998-2007 where his many productions included The Seagull, Krapp’s Last Tape (which he also directed for BBC4), Fallout which he directed as a film for Channel 4, The Weir that transferred to the West End and Broadway, Mojo which also transferred to the West End and then New York, and Dublin Carol.  For the National Theatre he has directed The Hothouse and The Day I Stood Still.
Jeremy Herbert - Designer
Jeremy Herbert has previously designed for the Almeida working on design and video for Michael Nyman's Opera Man and Boy: DADA, and The Triumph of Love. His other extensive theatre credits include Ashes and Sand,The Lights (site specific design in the gutted theatre) and Alice Trilogy all for Ian Rickson at the Royal Court; Cleansed, 4.48 Psychosis, Thyestes,The Ugly One and Bliss at the Royal Court; Imber – a site-specific collaboration on Salisbury Plain with Artangel and composer Giya Kanchelli; the premiere of John Taverner’s opera Mary of Egypt for the Aldeburgh Festival; The Tempest, Roberto Zucco, and Beauty and the Beast for the RSC; and This is Our Youth, Treats, Up For Grabs and Sexual Perversity in Chicago in the West End. Most recently he has designed for Fuenteovejuna in Madrid and on national tour, and Britten’s opera Death in Venice for the Staatsoper, Hamburg.
Peter Mumford - Lighting
Peter Mumford has previously worked with the Almeida on Rosmersholm, Cloud Nine, Hedda Gabler and The Goat or Who is Sylvia?. His recent theatre work includes A View From The Bridge, Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, Shadowlands and The Girl with a Pearl Earring all in the West End; The Hothouse, The Rose Tattoo, The Reporter and Exiles for the National Theatre; A Doll’s House, Born in the Gardens and Portrait of a Lady for the Peter Hall Season 2008, Bath; Uncle Vanya at the Rose Theatre, Kingston; The Seagull, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? and Dying City for the Royal Court, The Entertainer and Richard II for the Old Vic, and Brand and Hamlet for the RSC. 
He has also designed for opera productions at the Royal Opera House, Glyndbourne, English National Opera, amongst many other national and international venues.
Stephen Warbeck – Music

Stephen Warbeck has written extensively for theatre, including for Cloud Nine and Dying for It at the Almeida Theatre, and most recently Mrs Affleck for the National Theatre, and Swimming with Sharks and In Celebration in the West End. He has written for many productions at the Royal Court including The Seagull (also on Broadway), The Night Heron, Boy Gets Girl, Mouth to Mouth (also West End), Dublin Carol and The Glory of Living. Other work includes Proof at the Donmar Warehouse; Hothouse, An Inspector Calls, Machinal, Roots, Magic Olympical Games and At Our Table all for the National Theatre; and Alice in Wonderland, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, The White Devil, The Taming of the Shrew, The Cherry Orchard and Cymbeline all for the RSC.
He has also composed extensively for film and television, including the scores for Shakespeare in Love, Mrs Brown, Billy Elliot and Prime Suspect.
Paul Groothuis - Sound
Paul Groothuis has previously worked at the Almeida on Marianne Dreams. His other extensive credits include Dorian Gray, Nutcracker!, Highland Fling, Edward Scissorhands and Carman for New Adventures; Mermaids for CoisCeim; Oliver!,Mary Poppins, Marguerite, Porgy and Bess, Bad Girls, Endgame and Bent in the West End, and over 140 productions for the National Theatre including Present Laughter; Rafta Rafta, The Rose Tattoo, The Man of Mode, The Life of Galileo, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Once in a Lifetime, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, The House of Bernarda Alba, His Dark Materials, Buried Child, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum, The Cherry Orchard, Sunday in the Park With George, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Anything Goes and My Fair Lady. 
Steven Williams - Video
Steven has previosuly worked at the Almeida on video design and animation for Man and Boy: Dada in collaboration with Jeremy Herbert. His other work includes graphic design for Up for Grabs (West End), an animated history of the parachute for the Imperial War Museum, and a short film about the inventor of limelight for a new national museum. As a digital creative director at Leo Burnett, Steven designed, wrote and art directed many TV commercials, as well as devising multimedia campaigns for Kellogg, Sony, Nike and Nintendo. Music collaborations include Caught Still Hanging (Gill Clarke) and the second "Scanner" album for Touch Records in 1993, which he wrote and produced.
Articles and Reviews



**** (4 stars) "Ian Rickson's beautifully precise production...wild, contrapuntal humour beautifully articulated by Toby Jones... Jones' performance defines the tragi-comic nature of Butterworth's play...Amanda Drew maintains an aura of cool one of Pinter's female sirens. Butterworth exactly captures the mundane madness beneath the bland routine of affluence."

Michael Billington, Guardian, 27 March 2009

Read full review


**** (4 stars) "The sharpest, funniest piece [Jez Butterworth] has written since his precocious debut... I haven't laughed as much in ages"

Benedict Nightingale, Times, 27 March 2009

Read full review


**** (4 stars) "Ian Rickson's superb production...poetic detail of the writing and the perfection of the acting... Lincoln is a powerful and immensely likeable stage presence... the moodily atmospheric quality is brilliantly sustained. An early contender for best play of the year."

Michael Coveney, What's On, 27 March 2009

Read full review


"Superbly directed by Ian Rickson [who] brings his unusual combination of lyricism and shrewdness... a droll and delicious Amanda Drew... knockout physical-comedy sequences"

Susannah Clapp, Observer, 28 March 2009

Read full review


**** (4 stars) "Blissfully funny new play... Ian Rickson directs an almost flawless production... the wonderful Toby Jones hits comic sublimity...Amanda Drew's Joy is both coolly sexy and cruelly spiteful, while Andrew Lincoln entertainingly reveals terminal dimness... a play that combines the comic, the erotic and the downright disconcerting with superb panache"

Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, 30 March 2009

Read full review


**** (4 stars) "Ian Rickson's beautifully measured production... blissfully funny solo scenes for Toby Jones. It will be a vintage year if we see a better-acted play than this"

Michael Coveney, Independent, 30 March 2009

Read full review


*** (3 stars) "Ian Rickson's production is sensitive to every symbolic nuance... Toby Jones is terrific"

Robert Gore-Langton, Daily Mail, 27 March 2009


**** (4 stars) "It's a beauty... wickedly funny. The tone of the play is enthralling... crisply written and punctuated by laugh-out-loud comedy. The cast, in Ian Rickson's beautifully paced production, handles this expertly. Toby Jones, as Ned, is brilliant: poignant, desperate and hilarious... He is perfectly matched by Andrew Lincoln's laddish Dale and Amanda Drew's sensual, contemptuous Joy"

Sarah Hemming, Financial Times, 30 March 2009


*** (3 stars) "The performances match Butterworth's witty, lethal dialogue: Toby Jones as Ned provides a comic masterclass in middle-aged mediocrity, while Andrew Lincoln's geezer Dale is full of banal, amoral postering"

Claire Allfree, Metro, 1 April 2009


"Painfully beautiful hilarious comedy...the strong cast excells...emotionally intense and superbly written"

Alex Sierz, The Stage, 2 April 2009

Read full review





'Fame and Toby Jones' - Toby talks to The Times about his career and rehearsals for Parlour Song, 21 March 2009 

Read full interview



'This Actor's Life' - Andrew Lincoln talks to Alice Jones of The Independent, 26 March 2009

Read full interview


'The grass is greener' - Jez Butterworth discusses his recent work and the opening of Parlour Song (interview by Mark Lawson, The Guardian, 24 March 2009)

Read full interview

Audience Reaction
“We absolutely loved Parlour Song. The combination of three brilliant actors, the humour, the potent symbolism of the piece and the production values, set it out as one of the best all round theatrical experiences of the decade both for myself and my wife. We've urged all our friends to go."
“Parlour Song was excellent in all aspects - script, direction, setting, and a terrific trio of actors” 
"A very good play - very clever and creative set - excellent acting by all 3 actors - we thought particularly the younger guy coming to the front of the stage, engaging the audience, was outstanding.
“We absolutely loved 'Parlour Song!' We thought it was really Pinteresque. The acting was superb. We have seen several productions at the Almeida and always look forward to our visits!”
“Parlour Song was the best show I saw during my trip - and I saw a few West End shows in addition to National Theatre and fringe shows as well. Thanks!"
"It was brilliant: the play itself; the direction and set; the acting - all living up to Almeida's legacy of putting on exceptional theatrical experiences. Could easily book to see this play again - and I don't say that too often.”
“Very interesting play; well written, sad, comedic, witty, Pinteresque. And what a wonderful actor Toby Jones is (Andrew Lincoln and Amanda Drew also excellent but Toby Jones is special)".
“I thoroughly enjoyed 'Parlour Song'. The language and characters were so well observed and beautifully interpreted by the cast. Ian Rickson added so many subtle and quite compelling details that complimented the stage design and the lighting and projections. The music was quite beautiful whilst being unobtrusive and added moments of reflection."
"The staging was inventive and supportive to the story and the performances were wonderful to watch. I cannot wait to see what Toby Jones does next."
"Enjoyed it greatly, Toby Jones’s physical comedy was fab."
“I really enjoyed Parlour Song, and was still laughing about certain scenes days after. The Almeida is my favourite theatre in London and I have seen quite a few productions there and never been disappointed.”
“Parlour Song was hilarious and darkly disturbing at the same time and Toby Jones' performance just wonderful. Congratulations again to the Almeida who never fail to give us something interesting.”
“I thought it was great- really wonderful production”
 “My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed Parlour Song, a well written and acted piece." 
“Great performance. Cast was brilliant and we really enjoyed it. Excellent use of the staging facilities and the lighting effects were superb. Loved the theatre - cosy and close to the action - perfect combination.”
“Our friends and us enjoyed this production very much - great play, amazing acting and I particularly loved the design! The proximity to the stage is one of the reasons I am never disappointed coming to the Almeida Theatre: you do see the spit flying... Thanks for a very special evening.”
“I went to see Parlour Song with my school for a trip and I would just like to say how much of an excellent play this was. I laughed the whole way through it, it was hilarious and well done to all the performers you were excellent”
“I saw Parlour Songs on Saturday evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought the two male actors were superb and the humour spot on. The clever use of language was particularly entertaining. Well done."
Parlour Song Trailer

Watch the Parlour Song trailer to see exclusive footage of the cast in rehearsal and an interviews with actors Amanda Drew, Toby Jones and Andrew Lincoln.


Video produced by Misfit Films. For further information please visit


Parlour Song Podcast

Listen to the writer of Parlour Song Jez Butterworth and the show's director Ian Rickson talk about the play's themes, its characters and the setting. 
Listen here 
Download transcript here
Arts Council England ASP Group