The Serpents Tooth | Almeida Theatre, London
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World Premiere

The Serpent's Tooth

by David Watson
in association with Talawa Theatre Company
Tue 13 Nov 2012 - Sat 17 Nov 2012

In an unstable nation, vulnerable to violence, what form will justice take?

King Lear and his family are dead, and in the aftermath of a cruel war the country is at a crossroads. As lawlessness descends, an
imprisoned traitor awaits his fate. 

A prominent diplomat arrives to oversee the trial of this infamous prisoner. But with the guards resisting his authority and the threat of invasion growing outside, the visitor’s purpose begins to unravel.

Staged in the atmospheric basement of Shoreditch Town Hall, this potent finale to King Lear brings the audience face-to-face with a nation’s struggle for power.

Writer David Watson is best known for Flight Path (Bush Theatre) and Pieces of Vincent (Arcola Theatre). Talawa Theatre Company Artistic Director Michael Buffong directed Crawling in the Dark at the Almeida Theatre in 2011, as well as the highly acclaimed Moon on a Rainbow Shawl at the National Theatre.

Please note that this is a site-specific piece and performances are not taking place at the Almeida Theatre. For more information about the venue click here

This performance is recommended for ages 14+

  • - Photo Sheila Burnett.
  • - Alexander Campbell (Warden). Photo Sheila Burnett.
  • - Alexander Campbell (Warden) and Babou Ceesay (Abina). Photo Sheila Burnett.
  • - Babou Ceesay (Abina). Photo Sheila Burnett.
  • - Alexander Campbell (Warden) and Imogen Doel (Guard B). Photo Sheila Burnett.
  • - Alisha Bailey (Guard D). Photo Sheila Burnett.

The performances are taking place in the Basements of Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT. Click here for a map showing the venue.

The nearest tube and overground stations are Shoreditch High Street, Hoxton, Old Street and Liverpool Street.

Buses 5547 and 243 make stops within short walking distance of the venue.

Shoreditch Town Hall is a very old building with uneven flooring and narrow, dimly lit spaces which some audience members may find unsettling. Please ensure that you dress warmly with comfortable footwear and leave heavy bags at home.

Access information
This is a promenade performance during which you will follow the action around the basement spaces. You will be standing throughout, sometimes in the same spot for up to ten minutes. We regret that the venue is not accessible to wheelchair users and we are unable to provide access performances.
However, we do offer both captioned and audio-described performances for all other productions at the Almeida Theatre. Please see individual show pages for further details.

If you have a specific question regarding your access needs please speak to the Box Office.








Alisha Bailey
Guard D

Theatre includes: Powder Monkey (Royal Exchange, Manchester).

Television includes: Doctor Who; Missing; Doctors; My Almost Famous Family; Dirk Gently.

Film includes: I Give It a Year; The Decoy Bride.

Alexander Campbell

Theatre includes:One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Leicester Curve); Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain (English Touring Theatre); Private Peaceful (Bristol Old Vic / Trafalgar Studios / New York); Prodigal Son (Stephen Joseph Theatre); Merlin and the Cave of Dreams (Manchester Library Theatre); Six Degrees of Separation (Manchester Royal Exchange); Antigone (Jerwood); The Boys Next Door (Tabard Theatre).

Television includes: Murder Investigation TeamCasualtyThe Bill.

Babou Ceesay

Theatre includes: Bang, Bang, Bang (Royal Court); Pocket Dream (Propeller Theatre Company); Elektra (Young Vic Company); The Gods Weep (Royal Shakespeare Company); Doctor Faustus (Present Moment); A Midsummer Night’s Dream; The Merchant of Venice (Watermill Theatre); The Overwhelming (National Theatre/Out of Joint); Macbeth (Out of Joint); The Long Goodbye (Cockpit Theatre); Suddenly Last Summer; Trojan Women (The Studios); Twelfth Night (Pegasus Theatre).

Television includes: Lewis VII; Strikeback III; Getting On; Shirley; Luther; Stolen; Casualty; Law and Order; Whistleblowers; Silent Witness.

Film includes: Half of a Yellow Sun; Severance; Light.

Charlie Covell

Theatre includes: Queen of the North; The Winslow Boy (Bolton Octagon); Blackbird (York Theatre Royal); The Spanish Tragedy (Arcola); Men Without Shadows (Finborough); Ned and Sharon; Oscar and Jim (High Tide Festival); Bite Me; Bajazet (Edinburgh Festival); Ask and Tell (Soho Theatre); Another Muffin (Oxford Revue).  

Television includes: The Inbetweeners; Whitechapel; Law and Order UK; Arcadia; Midsomer Murders; Angelos; Doctors; Messiah IV; Fortysomething.

Film includes: Fantastic Fear of Everything; Forget Me Not; Oscar and Jim.

Imogen Doel
Guard B

Theatre includes: Marat/Sade; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (RSC); Notes to Future Self (Birmingham Rep); Get Santa! (Royal Court).

Theatre while training includes: Tommy; The Revenger’s Tragedy; The Grace of Mary Traverse; Nina; Pennies ‘n’ Beggars; Three Sisters; The Man of Mode; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Oedipus Rex; ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore.

Television includes: Misfits; An Accidental Farmer.

Olivia Morgan
Guard C

Theatre includes: The Charity That Began at Home (Orange Tree Theatre); King Lear (West Yorkshire Playhouse).

Theatre while training includes: La Dispute; Loyal Women; Man and Superman.

Television includes: Holby City; Doctors.  

Film includes: Robbery on the Champs Elysses.

Writer David Watson
Director Michael Buffong
Design Signe Beckmann
Lighting Tim Mascall
Sound Steven Brown
Dramaturg Lucy Morrison
Producer EJ Trivett
Casting JenkinsMcShane CDG
Fight Director Bret Yount    
Movement Imogen Knight  
Assistant Director Roy Alexander Weise

Michael Buffong

Michael is the Artistic Director of Talawa Theatre Company, and has directed a number of high-profile productions including the recent Moon on a Rainbow Shawl at the National Theatre and the multi-award-winning A Raisin in the Sun at the Manchester Royal Exchange. 

For the Almeida: Crawling in the Dark.

Theatre includes: Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre); A Raisin in the Sun; Private Lives; All the Ordinary Angels; Six Degrees of Separation; On my Birthday (Manchester Royal Exchange); One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Leicester Curve); To Kill a Mockingbird (West Yorkshire Playhouse and Birmingham Rep); Little Sweet Thing (Hampstead Theatre); Raising the Roof (Palace Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue); Long Time No See; Unfinished Business (Talawa Theatre Company); Souls (Theatre Centre); The Prayer (Young Vic Studio); Stories From Mean Street (New End Theatre, Hampstead); Airport 2000 (Leicester Haymarket); Brother to Brother (Lyric Hammersmith); Scrape of the Black (Theatre Royal Stratford East); In Pieces (Coventry Belgrade).

Television includes: Holby City; EastEnders; Admin; Placebo; Calais Rules; Doctors; Casualty; Comedy Shuffle; Hollyoaks; Feeling It; Blazed.

Film includes: Simple! (Acapulco Film Festival).

David Watson

David was the Pearson Playwright in residence for 2009/10 at the Lyric Hammersmith. He is currently under commission to the Royal Court Theatre and the National Theatre. He is also writing a musical for Only Connect Theatre and working on a new series of L8R for Hi8us/BBC.

Theatre includes: Pieces of Vincent (Arcola); Penny Dreadful (Tricycle); Bad Man Christmas; Freedom Project; Any Which Way (Only Connect); Flight Path (Bush Theatre); 24 Hour Plays (Old Vic); Just a Bloke (Royal Court); Obsessed/No More Flowers (Birmingham Rep).

Television includes: L8R.


Signe Beckmann

Signe trained at the Danish Design School and the Motley Theatre Design Course. She works internationally in a wide variety of styles and genres. Current projects include Insufficiency at the Riverside Studios directed  by Andy Jordan and Maria de Buenos Aires for Copenhagen Opera Festival.  Signe has also recently designed the Headlong Theatre 2012/13 Season trailer for Rupert Goold. 

For the Almeida: Crawling in the Dark

Theatre includes: Peep (Pleasance, Edinburgh), Benefactors (Sheffield Crucible); The Man with the Disturbingly Smelly Foot (Unicorn Theatre); Mathematics of the Heart (Theatre 503); The Glee Club (Hull Truck); Faith, Hope and Charity (Southwark Playhouse); The Knowledge; Little Platoons (Bush Theatre); Ghosts (Young Vic); Pedro and the Captain (Arcola Theatre); King Ubu (Corona La Balance, Denmark); Dancing at Lughnasa (Aubade Hall, Japan).

Opera includes: The Turn of the Screw (Opera Up Close); La Serva Padrona (Sa de Miranda, Portugal), Volume (ENO Opera Works, Sadlers Wells),  Eugene Onegin; Giasone (Iford Arts).

Dance includes: Gameshow (Company Chameleon, The Lowry); Quiproquo (Rapid Eye, Denmark); Meridian; Phantasy (Rambert company, Queen Elizabeth Hall).

Film includes: Shift MS; A Portrait of London.

Tim Mascall

Theatre includes: The Seagull; How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found;  (Southwark Playhouse); Chalet Lines (Bush Theatre / Live Theatre, Newcastle); Hundreds and Thousands; Vote Dizzy! (Soho Theatre); The New World Order (Hydrocracker / Barbican / Shoreditch Town Hall / Brighton Festival); The Roman Bath; Rose Bernd; Professor Bernhardi (Arcola); Without You; Breakfast with Johnny Wilkinson (Menier Chocolate Factory); A Little Night Music (Menier Chocolate Factory Productions / Central Szinhaz Theatre, Hungary); Ruby Wax: Lost It! (Menier Chocolate Factory Productions / Theatre on the Bay, Cape Town, South Africa); Darren Brown: Enigma; The Vagina Monologues (West End / UK Tour); Latin Fever; Ruby Wax – Losing It; Stones in His Pockets; The Lady of Burma; Darren Brown Live: An Evening of Wonder; Pete and Dud: Come Again; The Alchemist; Bad Jazz; Gizmo Love; Trainspotting; Off the Wall (UK Tour); Good Grief (Theatre Royal Bath / Tour); Counted (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Shore (Riverside Studios); Bloody Poetry (Jermyn Street Theatre); Thom Pain (The Print Room); Potted Potter (Seabright Productions); The Littlest Quirky (Theatre Centre / Stratford Circus); Peter Pan (Bristol Hippodrome / New Wimbledon Theatre); The BFG (Derby LIVE); Tim Key – Masterslut (Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh);  War and Peace at the Circus (Giffords Circus); Desire Lines (Sherman Cymru); Curtains (Arts Ed); Bells are Ringing (Union Theatre); The Importance of Being Earnest (New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich); Entangled (The Place).

Opera includes: The Gamblers (London Philharmonic Orchestra / Royal Festival Hall); Atalanta (Britten Theatre); Mahogonny Songspiel; Das Wunder Teatre (Cantieres des Artes Montepulciano, Italy).

Television includes: Derren Brown: Enigma; Derren Brown: an Evening of Wonder; Derren Brown Live: Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Steven Brown

Steven is a multi-award-winning sound designer with more than 85 sound design credits as Head of Sound with the Royal Exchange Theatre Company, Manchester, including World and European premieres, tour and productions which have transferred to the West End.

 Theatre includes: Moon on a Rainbow Shawl; Leave Taking; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (redesign) (National Theatre); Richard III; Gloriana’s Garden; The Blue Angel; Measure for Measure; The Taming of the Shrew; Romeo and Juliet (Royal Shakespeare Company); Madre Coraggio e I suoi figli by Bertolt Brecht (Teatro Strehler, Piccolo Teatro di Milano); Nathan the Wise; Turandot (Hampstead Theatre).

Sound engineering includes: Sweeney Todd; Arcadia; Wind in the Willows (National Theatre); Macbeth; A Midsummer Night’s Dream;The Beaux Stratagem (Royal Shakespeare Company).

Commissions include: The Listening Shell; sound design curator and exhibit designer for Collaborators: UK Design for Performance (Victoria & Albert Museum); Why Won’t You Tell Me? (Steam Control / The X Festival / British Film Institute National Film Theatre / Sassoon/Saatchi Gallery); a pan-continent collaborative soundscore for International Radiophonic Creation Day; soundscape for Laban Dance Centre; sound works composition/installation for Exeter Cathederal.

Curations include: The Prague Quadrennial 2011; World Stage Design 2013; Scenofest at the Prague Quadrennial 2007.

Steven’s soundscape and audio ecology work has been exhibited across the world, most recently at The Sonar Festival, Barcelona, Oxford Brookes University, Centre for Contemporary Art in Almere (Netherlands) and The Future Everything Festival, Manchester. His recent work has been broadcast on internet and terrestrial radio stations including Resonance FM (London), Radio Zero (Lisbon) and Free103point9 (New York).

"Invigorating, intense and absolute must-see."
One Stop Arts, 15 November 2012
Read full Review

"Rich and terrifying...a memorable and haunting piece of work."
Exeunt Magazine, 15 November 2012
Read full review

"This Michael Buffong-directed production proves to be something quite exceptional... one of the richest new plays I've seen all year."
Spoonfed, 16 November 2012
Read full review

"...stand-out performances...a quick-witted script and a suitably unsettling venue."
Camden New Journal, 15 November 2012




Wednesday 7 - Saturday 17 November

Evening performances 
Tue & Wed at 7pm
Thu - Sat at 7pm and 9pm
There are no public performances on Thu 8 November

This is a promenade performance with a running time of approximately 55 minutes with no interval.

The production is taking place at Shoreditch Town Hall.

Latecomers will not be admitted and there is no readmittance if you leave the space during the performance.

In 2012 Almeida Projects celebrates ten years inspiring the theatre-makers, theatre-goers and theatre-lovers of the future, no matter what their background. Each year we fundraise more than £200,000 to continue to provide 10,000 opportunities for young people to get involved. We hope you’ll consider making a donation to Almeida Projects when purchasing your ticket. Simply click 'add to basket' in the Donations section, or tell the Box Office that you would like to add a donation to your order.

Full Price


Concessions (Jobseekers Allowance, Full-Time Students, Over 60s)

Under 30s

Young Friends of the Almeida
More info

More info

Educational Group Bookings
Partner schools £5
Other UK state schoos £10
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.
YFA, TYPT and Schools tickets are not bookable online.


Arts Council England ASP Group