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Amanda Hale leads Unicorn’s Martyr

Published 6 August 2015

Amanda Hale will lead the cast of Marius Von Mayenburg’s Martyr when the tale of radicalism and liberal multi-culturalism receives its London premiere at the Unicorn Theatre in September.

Ramin Gray’s production, which explores religious extremism in the classroom, will play from 15 September to 10 October.

Ripper Street star Hale, whose recent West End credits include Olivier Award-winning thriller The Nether and Uncle Vanya at the St James Theatre, will be joined in the cast by Flaminia Cinque (Measure For Measure, Almeida Theatre), Kriss Dosanjh (Rafta Rafta, National Theatre), Mark Lockyer (The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot, Almeida Theatre) and Brian Lonsdale (War Horse, West End).

Completing the cast are Farshid Rokey (Mogadishu, Lyric Hammersmith), Dirty Sexy Things’ Jessye Romeo and Daniel O’Keefe, who makes his professional debut in the production.

A provocative and urgent exploration of the clash between fundamentalism and tolerance in western democracy, Martyr follows the story of Benjamin. When the school boy refuses to take part in swimming lessons, his mother assumes he’s on drugs or has body issues when in actual fact he has found God and the mixed-sex activity offends him.

Considering how far we should go to accommodate another’s faith, the play follows Benjamin’s journey towards religious extremism as he terrorises staff and students, and one teacher dares to take a stand. But how far is she willing to go and what will she risk to defend her own deeply held convictions?

Talking about the production, the Unicorn Theatre’s Artistic Director Purni Morellsaid: “Martyr raises a number of questions and ideas: is it ever possible for tolerance to go too far, are there things you should fight for, how can we understand each other better? They’re the age-old questions, but they’re still with us, perhaps more than ever, and so perhaps more than ever now is the time to go to the theatre.”

While Martyr is set to open at the Unicorn Theatre in September, the National Youth Theatre’s Homegrown, which was set to tackle the subject of radicalism with a cast of more than 112 people this month, has been cancelled.

Talking to The Guardian about the show’s premature end, the immersive production’s director Nadia Latif said: “We got an email on Thursday night saying the show was cancelled, rehearsals are done, and the cast were told on Friday morning. This show was about having an intelligent conversation around an issue that has hysteria attached, and instead voices have been silenced with no explanation and without the content ever being seen because of this landscape of fear that we live in.”

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