Cast announced for THE CUTTING EDGE

Arcola Theatre today announces the full cast for the world premiere of The Cutting Edge, a tragicomedy about life, money and art written and directed by Jack Shepherd

The play stars James Clyde (Peter), Michael Feast (Zak), Jasmine Hyde (Anna), Maggie Steed (Elvira) and David Sturzaker (Chris). The creative team includes Louie Whitemore (Designer), Richard Williamson (Lighting Designer) and Lex Kosanke (Sound Designer).

Previews begin on 13 February, and the run ends on 21 March 2020. Press night is Tuesday 18 February at 7pm.

Olivier Award-winner Jack Shepherd has collaborated with Arcola as an actor, writer and director over 20 years. Jack originally studied at art school before becoming an actor, and this brand new play examines the impact of the rise of commercialism on art and life.

It is the follow-up to his acclaimed 1998 play Half Moon, about London’s bohemian artists during the Falklands war. One of those artists, Elvira Bentham, is depicted several years later in The Cutting Edge, visiting a couple who have chosen to abandon art criticism for a self-sustainable life in the country.

The Cutting Edge opens Arcola Theatre’s 20th anniversary season, a year-long programme which includes new work by Barney Norris, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Leyla Nazli, David Farr and Tena Štivičić, and from a new generation of writers. Tickets for the 2020 Season start from £12, with over 27,000 tickets available for £20 or less across the year, plus Pay What You Can tickets every Tuesday.

Writer and director of The Cutting Edge Jack Shepherd said: 

“I studied art at the University of Durham from 1958 to 1962, under Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton. When I started, the predominant influence was Pasmore’s and his essentially constructivist style. By the time I left, the building was filled with brightly-coloured pictures like Hamilton’s – straight out of American pop art. A spirit had been unleashed which was increasingly about capital and the market; adverts, poster art and celebrity. The Cutting Edge is my attempt to understand what happened to me in that period of education, and to evaluate the modernist movement in art.”

Arcola’s co-founder and Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen said: 

“Jack Shepherd is an exceptional theatre maker and one of the people who helped to shape Arcola’s first two decades, so it is very special that he will be opening our 20th anniversary season. I can’t wait to welcome him back to Arcola with this new play which asks important questions about the value of art in our society.”


About Arcola Theatre

Arcola Theatre was founded by Mehmet Ergen and Leyla Nazli in September 2000. Originally located in a former textile factory on Arcola Street in Dalston, in January 2011 the theatre moved to its current location in a former paint-manufacturing workshop on Ashwin Street. Arcola has won awards including the UK Theatre Award for Promotion of Diversity, The Stage Award for Sustainability and the Peter Brook Empty Space Award.

Arcola Theatre produces daring, high-quality theatre in the heart of East London and beyond. We commission and premiere exciting, original works alongside rare gems of world drama and bold new productions of classics. Our socially-engaged, international programme champions diversity, challenges the status quo, and attracts over 65,000 people to our building each year. Ticket prices are some of the most affordable in London, and our long-running Pay What You Can scheme ensures there is no financial barrier to accessing the theatre. Every year, we offer 26 weeks of free rehearsal space to ethnically diverse and refugee artists; our Grimeborn Festival opens up opera with contemporary stagings at affordable prices; and our Participation department creates over 13,500 creative opportunities for the people of Hackney and beyond. Our pioneering environmental initiatives are award-winning, and aim to make Arcola the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre.

The Cutting Edge

Following his acclaimed play Half Moon, Jack Shepherd premieres a new tragicomedy about life, money and art.

“We all felt we were on the crest of a breaking wave. The future was ours.”

Anna and Chris have abandoned the lucrative world of art criticism for a self-sufficient life in the countryside. But seven years in, doubts are beginning to take root. An unexpected visit from glamorous artist Elvira shakes the foundations of the couple’s new life, and brings a bygone era into startlingly sharp focus.

The Cutting Edge explores the tensions between creativity and capitalism, sustainability and progress, and questions what matters most in the modern world.

Jack Shepherd is an actor, writer, director and artist. His previous work at Arcola includes Only When I Laugh (2009) and Chasing The Moment (2007); and as an actor: Home (2013), Small Craft Warnings (2008) and Macbeth (2002). His other directorial work includes Measure for Measure (National Theatre), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare’s Globe) and King Lear (Southwark Playhouse). Jack trained as a painter before becoming an actor. He played the title role in Trevor Griffiths’ series Bill Brand (1976) and the detective drama Wycliffe (1993-98). He won the 1983 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a New Play for the original production of Glengarry Glen Ross.

James Clyde plays Peter. His theatre credits include Tamburlaine, Tartuffe, Timon of Athens, Cymbeline, King Lear, Matilda, Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night (RSC); King Lear (BAM New York); Touch (Soho Theatre); In The Depths of Dead Love (The Print Room); The God of Carnage (Nuffield Theatre Southampton); Dangerous Lady (Theatre Royal Stratford East); The Illusion (Southwark Playhouse); Hamlet (Young Vic); As You Like It (Manchester Royal Exchange); Twelfth Night (National Theatre); Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Sea at Night (Hackney Empire). His television credits include Black Earth Rising, The Bill, New Tricks (BBC); Boudicca (ITV); Mr Thomas (Channel 4).

Michael Feast plays Zak. His theatre credits include The Caretaker (Gate Theatre Dublin); Ross, A Month in the Country, Twelfth Night, The Master and Margarita, The Seagull, A Christmas Carol, Vivat! Vivat Regina! (Chichester Festival Theatre); Doctor Faustus, Nathan and the Wise (Minerva Theatre); The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Chichester Festival Theatre & West End); Ghost From A Perfect Place (Arcola Theatre); The Glass Slipper, After Darwin (Hampstead Theatre); Facts (Finborough Theatre); Three Sisters (Young Vic); The King’s Speech (Wyndham’s Theatre); Saved, Oliver Twist, The Servant, Seventeen (The Lyric Hammersmith); Pygmalion (Garrick Theatre); The Ones That Flutter (Theatre503); Plague Over England (Duchess Theatre); Phaedra (Donmar Warehouse). His television credits include Game of Thrones (HBO); State of Play (BBC); The Murder of Steven Lawrence, Vera (ITV). His film credits include A Fantastic Fear of Everything, The Deaths of Ian Stone, Sleepy Hollow. He was nominated for Best Actor at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for his role in Plague Over England.

Jasmine Hyde plays Anna. Her theatre credits include The Hyperviolent King of the Universe (Bunker Theatre); Jam (Finborough Theatre); Whose Life Is It Anyway, The Dog (Frinton Summer Theatre); Statements After An Arrest Under The Immorality Act (Jermyn Street Theatre); Nyxie, Gorgons in Decade (Theatre503); Muswell Hill (Orange Tree Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Rivals (Theatre Royal Bath); Pericles (RSC); Coast of Utopia (National Theatre). Her television credits include Good Omens (BBC/Amazon); Holby City, Doctors, Casualty (BBC). Her film credits include Wonder Woman 1984.

Maggie Steed plays Elvira. Her theatre credits include The Cane, Women Beware Women (Royal Court); Pinter One, Richard III (West End); The Birthday Party (Manchester Royal Exchange); Trelawney of the Wells (Donmar Warehouse); The School for Scandal (Theatre Royal Bath); Kinderstransport (UK Tour); Listen We’re Family (JW3); Uncle Vanya (Chichester Festival Theatre); The Belle’s Stratagem (Southwark Playhouse); The Constant Wife (Salisbury Playhouse); Hay Fever (West Yorkshire Playhouse); The History Boys (National Theatre & World Tour); The Importance of Being Earnest (Oxford Playhouse); The Storm (Almeida Theatre); The War Plays, Much Ado About Nothing (RSC). Her television credits include Elizabeth is Missing, Lark Rise to Candleford, Jam and Jerusalem, Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV, EastEnders (BBC); Chewing Gum (Channel 4). Her film credits include Fisherman’s Friends, Transformers: The Last Night, Paddington 2, Florence Foster Jenkins, Cloud Nine, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Painted Veil, Lipstick on Your Collar.

David Sturzaker plays Chris. His theatre credits include Creditors, Bloody Poetry (Jermyn Street Theatre); Timon of Athens, Tamburlaine, The White Devil (RSC); Frost/Nixon (Sheffield Crucible); Nell Gwynne (Shakespeare’s Globe & West End); Richard II, Titus Andronicus, The Comedy of Errors, Measure for Measure, Troilus and Cressida, The Winter’s Tale (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Chichester Festival Theatre & West End); A Doll’s House (Manchester Royal Exchange); Eternal Love, Anne Boleyn (Shakespeare’s Globe/English Touring Theatre); Cool Hand Luke (West End); Four Nights in Knaresborough (Southwark Playhouse). His television credits include Endeavour (ITV); Father Brown, Doctors (BBC); Da Vinci’s Demons (BBC Worldwide).

Louie Whitemore is Designer. Her theatre credits include The Daughter-In-Law, The Dog, The Night and the Knife (Arcola Theatre); Original Death Rabbit, Hound of the Baskervilles, Tonight At 8.30, Tomorrow At Noon, For Services Rendered, Miss Julie, Creditors (Jermyn Street Theatre); Handbagged, Single Spies, Bold Girls, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Lady Killers, Dear Uncle (Theatre by the Lake); Good Soul (Young Vic); The Minotaur, My Father Odysseus (Unicorn Theatre); The Winter’s Tale (NAPA Karachi); Lost Land (Jenin, Palestine); Potted Sherlock (Vaudeville Theatre & UK tour); Three Birds (Bush Theatre & Manchester Royal Exchange); Egusi Soup (Soho Theatre); Mud (Gate Theatre); Shakespeare Untold, The Magic Playroom (UK Tour & Pleasance Theatre); I Am A Superhero (Theatre503). She has been nominated for three Off-West End Awards and was a finalist for the Old Vic 12 and the JMK Award.

Richard Williamson is Lighting Designer. His theatre credits include Rotterdam (West End/Off-Broadway/UK National Tour); Richard III, An Arab Tragedy (Swan Theatre Stratford & International tour); Sampled, Danse Élargie (Sadler’s Wells); Great Expectations (UK tour); Little Miss Sunshine (Arcola Theatre and UK Tour); Fiddler on the Roof, The Comedy about a Bank Robbery (Istanbul); Beowulf, Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine, Jason and the Argonauts (Unicorn Theatre); Thebes Land, New Nigerians, Drones Baby Drones, Shrapnel: 34 Fragments of a Massacre, Mare Rider, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Country (Arcola Theatre); A Political History of Smack and Crack (Edinburgh Festival Fringe & Soho Theatre); Oedipus at Colonus (Cambridge Arts Theatre); The Body (Barbican Centre); The Dark Side of Love (Roundhouse); In My Name, Boris World King (Trafalgar Studios); Amphibians (Bridewell Theatre); Thrill Me (Tristan Bates/Charing Cross Theatre/UK and international tour); Twentieth Century Boy (New Wolsey Ispwich); Re:Home, Brenda (The Yard); Play Size (Young Vic); The Al-Hamlet Summit (Tokyo International Festival/International tour); Strangers In Between (Trafalgar Studios & King’s Head Theatre); Ballo, Tosca, Denial, Someone To Blame (King’s Head Theatre); Summer Begins (Southwark Playhouse). Richard trained at LAMDA, is Head of Production for C Venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and is a Trustee of the King’s Head Theatre. His first Lighting credit was for A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Arcola Theatre, co-directed by Jack Shepherd.

Lex Kosanke is Sound Designer. His theatre credits include Hunger (Arcola Theatre); The Mikvah Project (Orange Tree Theatre); Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Immersive ExperienceGently Down The Stream (Park Theatre); The Grand Expedition (Gingerline); Homos, Or Everyone in America (Finborough Theatre); The Strongbox (The Vaults); Loaded (Birmingham Old Rep). Lex is also a composer, and is a Finalist for the 2020 Off-West End Award for Design: Sound for his work on Hunger.

1 thought on “Cast announced for THE CUTTING EDGE”

  1. christine Goreham

    A friend and I saw The Cutting Edge on Thursday. We came away feeling unsure about the flow of the play and what it was trying to convey. Even re-reading the description I am not convinced it meet its objectives. There were some light humorous lines but looking around the audience these were lost and need strengthening. At the interval we were left not knowing what the options might be for the 2nd half and we might be taken, the middle was weak.

    The issue of the piece of staging that did not work on the evening was fine. It would have been irrelevant. With the kitchen setting pushed back and the garden chairs brought out, it was clear the scene had changed to the garden. Jack Shepherd needed not have stressed about it, the stage sets worked fine.

    Maggie Steed was brilliant but I character cannot be called ‘glamorous’ totally the wrong adjective, maybe bohemian.
    What was with the orange theme that appeared to run through the play, did we miss something? There were the orange socks, orange pan in which the soup was being made, orange on the apron….

    David Sturzaker voice does not carry so well when he softens the dialogue unlike Maggie and James Clyde. We were sitting towards the back on the left hand side, if one is facing the stage.

    I do hope the press reviews are kind

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