Benedict Lombe – interview

Bush Theatre’s Shifters – West End Transfer
Interview by: Christina Nicole
Published: Thursday 20 June 2024, 9:10am

Shifters, Bush Theatre’s smash hit play by Benedict Lombe starring Heather Agyepong and Tosin Cole, directed By Lynette Linton transfers to the West End this summer

Benedict Lombe (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize-winner for Lava, 2022, Bush Theatre)

Shifters’ transfer is a big moment. Our dreamy, tender, unrepentantly romantic show about two lost souls finding a connection that can’t be forgotten was a hit with Bush audiences. Now we get to recreate our magic on a bigger stage! I hope what Shifters does – as well as invite new audiences to fall in love with Des and Dre – is accelerate the pace for the next wave of Black British female playwrights in the West End.”

This epic and universal love story is about the enduring power of memory and young love.
Meet Dre and Des, they are young, gifted, Black. He stayed. She left. Years later they come crashing back into each other’s lives, carrying new secrets and old scars. Caught in the space between memory and reality, they struggle to navigate the shifting borders that threaten to rewrite their past and reshape their future. Shifters’ transfer to the Duke of York’s Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, London marks a groundbreaking moment for Benedict Lombe who follows in the footsteps of Natasha Gordon (Nine Night) and Yasmin Joseph (J’Ouvert) as the third Black British female playwright to have her play staged in the history of the West End.

BENEDICT LOMBE is a Congolese British writer based in London. Her debut play Lava (Bush Theatre 2021) was awarded the 2022 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, becoming one of the first writers in the prize’s history to win the award for a debut play. Lava also won a Black British Theatre Award, Best Performance Piece at the 2022 Offies (Off West End Awards), and was nominated for the Alfred Fagon Award for Best New Play of the Year. Shifters (Bush Theatre, Spring 2024) was her second commission from the Bush Theatre, directed by Artistic

Director Lynette LintonShifters has consequently been optioned for TV by an Oscar, Emmy and BAFTA-winning production company. Further theatre work includes an attachment at the National Theatre Studio, a commission for the Charleston Festival and other new plays in development. Further screen work includes a commission to develop an original feature film for BBC Films and Expanded Media Productions.

Heather Agyepong (School Girls; or The African Mean Girls Play, Lyric Hammersmith) and Tosin Cole (Netflix’s Supacell, BBC’s Doctor Who), whose electrifying performances received critical acclaim in the original production, will reprise their roles as young lovers Des and Dre for a strictly limited season of nine weeks at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London directed by BAFTA-nominated and Evening Standard Theatre Award-winner Lynette Linton (Blues for An Alabama Sky, National Theatre; Clyde’s Donmar; August in England, Bush Theatre).

Need to know:
Shifters plays at the Duke of York’s theatre from 12 Aug – 12 Oct 2024.  Find out more via Afridiziak Theatre News.

Related links
Afridiziak 5 star review – Shifters, Bush Theatre