The Knot of the Heart | Almeida Theatre, London
World Premiere

The Knot of the Heart

by David Eldridge
Tue 15 Mar 2011 - Sat 30 Apr 2011

“Why has this happened to us? Things like this don’t happen to families like ours.”

Beautiful and privileged, Lucy is enjoying a burgeoning career in television. But her social drug habit has become a hard drug addiction, casting a dark shadow over her future happiness.

As her charmed life begins to slip away Lucy comes to realise that the devoted support of her family does not come without a price.

Writer David Eldridge's play Festen was a huge success at the Almeida in 2004 and subsequently in the West End. His other work includes Market Boy (National Theatre) and Under the Blue Sky (Royal Court and West End), which won the Time Out Live Award for Best New Play.

Ticket Prices: £8 - £32

Evening Performances 7.30pm
Wednesday Matinee 2.30pm on 13 April
Saturday Matinees 3pm from 19 March
There will be no performance on Easter Monday (25 April)

Running time is 2 hours 40 minutes including one interval of 15 minutes.

Monday 11 April
Stay in the auditorium after the performance to have your question answered by members of the The Knot of the Heart company.
Free to same day ticket holders.

Post-Show Panel Discussion
Wednesday 6 April
Join us for a post-show discussion to delve into the themes behind The Knot of the Heart. This discussion is in association with the Royal College of Psychiatrists; click here to read more.


Saturday 2 April, 3pm &
Tuesday 12 April, 7.30pm
Audio Described
Saturday 16 April, 3pm
(touch tour at 1.30pm)


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The Cast
Kieran Bew | The Knot of the Heart | Almeida Theatre, London

Kieran Bew

All the Men

Kieran played Billy Nixon in the British indie film 1234 and also appeared in Green Street. Kieran has been seen in a number of roles on television including Waking The Dead, Silent Witness and Personal Affairs.

Theatre includes: The House of Special Purpose (Chichester Festival Theatre); Richard II (Old Vic). 

Television includes: Crusoe; The Street; Whistleblower; Midsomer Murders; Spooks.

Abigail Cruttenden | The Knot of the Heart | Almeida Theatre, London

Abigail Cruttenden


Abigail is best known on television for her roles in ITV1’s long running series Sharpe and Benidorm. Her theatre credits include roles at the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as numerous appearances for Theatr Clwyd.

Theatre includes: Afterlife; Flight (National Theatre); The Wood Demon; Tartuffe (The Playhouse); Twelfth Night (Royal Shakespeare Company).

Television includes: Sex, The City and Me; Foyles War; Monarch of the Glen; Anna Karenina; Jane Eyre.

Film includes: Charlotte Gray; Hideous Kinky.

Lisa Dillon | The Knot of the Heart | Almeida Theatre, London

Lisa Dillon


The role of Lucy was created for Lisa, who makes her fourth appearance for the Almeida, following When The Rain Stops Falling, Period of Adjustment and Hedda Gabler. She has recently been in the Old Vic’s production of Design for Living and will be in their next production of A Flea in her Ear. She won the Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Newcomer and
the Ian Charleson Award for her performance as Hilda in The Master Builder at the Albery Theatre. On television she is best known for the role of Mary Smith in the BBC’s period drama Cranford.

Theatre includes: Private Lives (Theatre Royal Bath); Under the Blue Sky (Duke of York’s); Present Laughter (National Theatre); The Cherry Orchard; As You Like It (Sheffield Crucible); Othello (Royal Shakespeare Company).

Film includes: Bright Young Things.

Margot Leicester | The Knot of the Heart | Almeida Theatre, London

Margot Leicester


Margot has most recently been seen on stage at Bolton Octagon in All My Sons, Ghosts and The Enemy Within. Her extensive theatre credits include appearances at Soho Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, The Donmar Warehouse, Birmingham Rep and the Young Vic. 

Theatre includes: Coriolanus (Shakespeare’s Globe); First Frame (Donmar Warehouse); Memory of Water (Vaudeville Theatre); The Last Yankee (Young Vic); Broken Glass (National Theatre); An Enemy of the People (The Playhouse).

Television includes: Spooks; Law & Order; Peak Practice; The Take; Midsomer Murders.

Sophie Stanton | The Knot of the Heart | Almeida Theatre, London

Sophie Stanton


Sophie's previous Almeida credits are Cloud Nine and Dying For It. Other theatre credits include Market Boy and England People Very Nice, both for the National Theatre. Sophie will be recognisable to television viewers for her longstanding role as DCI Marsden in EastEnders.

Theatre includes: Mercury Fur (Paines Plough); Breeze Block Park (Liverpool Playhouse); Bright (Soho Theatre); Beautiful Thing (Donmar Warehouse/ Bush Theatre).

Television includes: Midsomer Murders; Lewis; Ashes to Ashes; Fingersmith; Wallander.

Film includes: Closer; Shadowlands; Beautiful Thing.


Writer David Eldridge

Director Michael Attenborough

Design Peter McKintosh

Lighting Tim Mitchell

Music & Sound Dan Jones

Casting Julia Horan
Fight Director Bret Yount
Assistant Director Gbemisola Ikumelo  

David Eldridge 


For the Almeida: Festen (also Lyric West End, winner of 2005 Theatregoers Choice Award for Best New Play).

Theatre includes: The Stock Da’wa (being staged in Spring 2011, Hampstead Theatre); The Lady From The Sea (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester); A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky (with Robert Holman and Simon Stephens, Lyric Hammersmith); Babylone (Belgrade Coventry); John Gabriel Borkman; The Wild Duck; Summer Begins (Donmar Warehouse); Market Boy (National Theatre); Incomplete and RandomActs of Kindness; Under the Blue Sky (Royal Court and West End, winner of Time Out Live Award 2001 for Best New Play in the West End and 2009 Theatregoers Choice Award for Best New Play); Mad; Serving It Up (The Bush); Falling (Hampstead Theatre); A Week With Tony; Fighting For Breath (Finborough); Thanks Mum (Red Room); Dirty (Theatre Royal Stratford East); Cabbage For Tea, Tea, Tea! (Platform 4 Exeter).

Television includes: Killers, Our Hidden Lives.

Short film includes: The Nugget Run.

Radio includes: Like Minded People; Michael and Me; Stratford, Ilford, Romford and All Stations to Shenfield; Festen; The Picture Man (winner of Prix Europa Best European Radio Drama 2008). 

In July 2007 the University of Exeter honoured David’s work in theatre and as a playwright by making him a Doctor of Letters. He is Honorary Fellow in Drama at the University of Exeter.

Michael Attenborough


Michael Attenborough is Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre (since 2002). Previously, he was Associate Director, Mercury Theatre, Colchester (1972-74), Associate Director, Leeds Playhouse (now West Yorkshire Playhouse) (1974-79), Associate Director, Young Vic (1979-80), Artistic Director, Palace Theatre, Watford (1980-84), Artistic Director, Hampstead Theatre (1984-89), Principal Associate Director, Royal Shakespeare Company (1990-2002). On leaving the RSC he was invited to become an Honorary Associate Artist.

For the Almeida: Through a Glass Darkly; Measure For Measure; When the Rain Stops Falling; In a Dark Dark House; The Homecoming; Awake and Sing; Big White Fog; There Came A Gypsy Riding; Enemies; The Late Henry Moss; Brighton Rock; The Mercy Seat; Five Gold Rings.

For the RSC: Amphibians; The Changeling; Les Liaisons Dangereuses (UK and European tour); After Easter; Pentecost; The Herbal Bed (also in the West End and Broadway); Romeo and Juliet; A Month in the Country; Othello; Henry IV parts I and II; The Prisoner’s Dilemma; Antony and Cleopatra.

For the Palace Theatre productions include: The Girl in Melanie Klein; The Big Knife; Romantic Comedy (also in the West End); Terra Nova.

For the Hampstead Theatre productions include: The War at Home (also on Broadway); Particular Friendships; That Summer; Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme; Separation (also in the West End).

Freelance: Over a Barrel; Single Spies (Turnstyle Group); 1984 (Citadel Theatre, Edmonton); Yerma (Abbey Theatre, Dublin); Anna Weiss (West End); My Mother Said I Never Should (Royal Court); Fashion (Tricycle Theatre); Apollo and Daphne (North Wall); Playing with Fire (National Theatre).

Peter McKintosh 


For the Almeida: House of Games; Waste; Cloud Nine; Romance; The Silent Twins and Love Counts (Almeida Opera).

Theatre includes: The 39 Steps (New York, Boston, Australia, Korea, China, Russia, Japan, Israel, Italy, UK and USA tours) for which he received two Tony nominations on Broadway (Best Scenic Design and Best Costume Design).

West End includes: Love Story; Shirley Valentine / Educating Rita; Prick Up Your Ears; Entertaining Mr Sloane; Fiddler on the Roof; The Dumb Waiter; Summer and Smoke; Donkeys’ Years; The Home Place; The Birthday Party; Ying Tong; A Woman of No Importance; Boston Marriage.

Other theatre includes: King John; Brand; The Merry Wives of Windsor; Pericles; Alice in Wonderland (RSC); The Heretic (Royal Court); Honk!; Widowers’ Houses (National); Luise Miller; Serenading Louie; Be Near Me; The Chalk Garden; John Gabriel Borkman; The Cryptogram (Donmar Warehouse); Love Story; Pal Joey; The Scarlet Letter; Just So (Chichester Festival Theatre); Antony and Cleopatra (Liverpool Everyman Playhouse); Crazy For You; Hello Dolly! (Regent’s Park, Olivier nomination, Best Costume Design); Kirikou et Karaba (Casino de Paris); Me and My Girl; Fiddler on the Roof; Assassins; Ain’t Misbehavin’; Guys and Dolls (Sheffield Crucible).

Opera includes: The Handmaids' Tale (Royal Danish Opera, Canadian Opera, ENO).

Tim Mitchell


For the Almeida: Becky Shaw; Brighton Rock; Big White Fog; The Lightning Play; Enemies; Blood Wedding; Whistling Psyche.

Theatre includes: Racing Demon; An Enemy of the People (Sheffield Crucible); The Three Musketeers (Rose Theatre); Lend Me A Tenor (Plymouth Theatres); Tell Me on a Sunday (tour); Master Class (Theatre Royal Bath); The Critic / Real Inspector Hound; Bingo; The Master Builder; Oklahoma; The Grapes of Wrath; Cyrano De Bergerac (Chichester Festival Theatre); The Secret Garden (Edinburgh Festival Theatre / Toronto); The Cherry Orchard; Arthur and George (Birmingham Rep); Dirty Dancing (West End / Toronto / Hamburg / Utrecht / USA tour / Berlin); The History Boys (tour / West Yorkshire Playhouse); Alphabetical Order (also tour); Darker Shores; Amongst Friends (Hampstead Theatre); A Month in the Country (Salisbury Playhouse); Cinderella (Old Vic); Sleeping Beauty (New York / Barbican / Young Vic); Henry IV Parts I and II (Washington Shakespeare); The Play What I Wrote (Broadway / West End); Merrily We Roll Along (Donmar Warehouse); Hamlet (Japan / Sadler’s Wells); Yes Prime Minister; Toyer; Imagine This; Bad GirlsThe Musical; Otherwise Engaged; As You Like It; Romeo and Juliet; Of Mice and Men (West End). Working extensively with the RSC, his recent credits include Morte D’Arthur, Twelfth Night and Hamlet.

Opera includes: Die Frau Ohne Schatten; Elektra (Mariinsky, Russia); Ariadne Auf Naxos (WNO / Boston); Die Fledermause (WNO).

Dance includes: productions for Northern Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House and Sadler’s Wells.

Dan Jones

Music & Sound

For the Almeida: Through a Glass Darkly.

Theatre includes: England (National Theatre / Whitechapel Gallery / international tour); Kursk; War Music; The Watery Part of the World; Going Dark (Sound&Fury); A Prayer for My Daughter (Young Vic); Fall (RSC / Traverse); Slippage (Rambert Dance Company); Othello; The Turn of the Screw; Uncle Vanya (Bristol Old Vic); Peter Pan; Happy Days; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Dundee Rep); Coriolanus; The Changeling; The Taming of the Shrew; Julius Caesar; The Tempest (Tobacco Factory).

Film includes: Max; Shadow of the Vampire; Manolete; Tomorrow La Scala; Four Last Songs; Twockers.

Television includes: Criminal Justice; Dead Set; David Attenborough’s Darwin and the Tree of Life; Sahara; Witness, Real Lives; The Spying Game; Wildlife on One; The Ghosts of Rwanda; The Natural World; David Attenborough’s Life of Mammals; Horizon; The Iron Duke

Radio includes: Between the Ears (BBC Radio 3).

Audio artwork and installations include: Suburban Counterpoint: Music for Seven Ice Cream Vans (LIFT, NNF10); Sky Orchestra (Fierce Festival, RSC Complete Works Festival, Sydney Festival and international tour); Dream Director (ICA, Arnolfini and tour); Listening Posts (permanent installation Cork Harbour); Paradise Omeros (Julian Isaac, Tate Modern). Dan has also produced string Arrangements for Massive Attack and Alpha / Jarvis Cocker.

Dan recently co-directed Kursk at The Young Vic.

Get a preview of some of the most poignant lines from this new play. Plus Director Michael Attenborough and Writer David Eldridge discuss the key themes of The Knot of the Heart.

Trailer produced by Misfit Films. Find out more at


***** (5 stars) “David Eldridge’s superb new play is the most painful and persuasive account of addiction I have ever encountered”
Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, 21 March 2011
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**** (4 stars) “Eldridge created the role of Lucy for Lisa Dillon and she repays the debt with a shatteringly brilliant and unsparing performance.”
Paul Taylor, Independent, 21 March 2011
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**** (4 stars) "The great virtue of Eldridge's approach is his painstaking exploration of what addiction entails and his refusal to pass easy moral judgements."
Michael Billington, The Guardian, 18 March 2011
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**** (4 stars) "The Knot of the Heart holds us riveted. In absolutely every respect this is a big night of theatre and not one for the faint of emotional heart."
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard, 18 March 2011
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**** (4 stars) "Dillon batters us with a brilliant, believable, thoroughly nerve-jangling performance"
Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out, 22 March 2011
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**** (4 stars) "Eldridge, however, makes his family drama work by ignoring the cliché whenever he can; and when he cannot, investing it with insight and sensitivity."
Ian Shuttleworth, Financial Times, 22 March 2011
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**** (4 stars) "Michael Attenborough directs with understanding and finesse. It is a subject that touches the heart."
Paul Callan, Daily Express, 18 March 2011

"Dillon is superb, expressing the nastiness of the addict while hinting at the beguiling child she was. Margot Leicester as the mother is convincingly crumpled, driven, desperate and deluded."
Libby Purves, The Times, 18 March 2011
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"Under Michael Attenborough’s deft direction, Lisa Dillon - for whom the part was written - is superb as Lucy."
Heather Neill, The Stage, 18 March 2011



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"Just been to Almeida to see The Knot of the Heart . Never cried at the theatre before. Most moving play I've ever seen."

"I thought it was quite riveting, shocking and thought-provoking, and Lisa Dillon's performance was outstanding."

"Just to say how excellent I thought The Knot of the Heart was - brave writing, brave performing, thank you"

"The Knot of the Heart was a very harrowing thought-provoking play, beautifully constructed and written and admirably acted by a flawless cast. Well done indeed."

"The Knot of the Heart by David Eldridge is a thoroughly absorbing night at the theatre. Stunning production. Go see."

"The Knot of the Heart  was by far a play which was thought-provoking, and emotionally unsettling but captivating. Worth it!"

"Thoroughly recommend The Knot of the Heart at the Almeida Theatre! Intense but brilliant."

"The Knot of the Heart by David Eldridge packs a mighty emotional punch. Heartily recommended."

"Powerful, effective, moving, very funny, beautifully written, stunningly acted."

"Wonderful, epic play by David Eldridge - this play is alive and kicking. Go see."

"The Knot Of The Heart was brilliant! David Eldridge is a genius writer, laughed...and cried (a bit!) Everyone go and see it!"

Arts Council England ASP Group