facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen. #IMissTheatre


First Published 28 April 2016, Last Updated 28 April 2016

What’s it all about?

Imagine a future where memories could be cut from your brain, where faith could be removed with a scalpel and addiction cured with the swipe of a surgeon’s hand. A future where the most awful of pains could be deleted from your mind and dementia could be cured by shaving off the last few decades of data from your consciousness.

It’s in this Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind world we find ourselves in the latest of Nick Payne’s thought-provoking dramas that asks just where our ‘self’ lies, whether love really transcends the rules of science or if all we are can be reduced down to neural pathways and white matter.

Told through a series of short scenes that move throughout the timeline of one married couple’s relationship, we watch an illness take hold, a drastic solution take place and the shock horror when one can no longer remember the other with the help of a bittersweet restart button.

Who’s in it?

Zoë Wanamaker and Barbara Flynn star as the couple whose lives are unravelled and sewn together in front of our eyes as the narrative travels back and forwards through their own history of love. As you might well predict with actors of this calibre, they’re incredible.

As the half of the pair struck down with the torturous degenerative disease Wanamaker gives a steely double performance: sometimes playing the Lorna her wife so desperately loves – dry, witty, morbid and vividly alive – at others, the version of herself left after the last 30 years of her life have been removed; oddly robotic, cold and unemotional. Throughout Flynn is heartbreakingly sincere, bringing Carrie’s bitter struggle to accept love can be removed under anaesthetic to life with stunning effect.

What should I look out for?

Payne’s ultra-naturalistic dialogue, which Nina Sosanya nails as a doctor for whom the black and white rules of science prove more compelling than philosophical arguments.

Tom Scutt’s arresting design that places us in a futuristic landscape with a bed of volcanic sand providing the floor and a vast tree cut in two to symbolise the mind. It’s brutal and dark but hides surprises as Lorna buries through the sand to find well-thumbed books of poems.

In a nutshell?

Nick Payne’s Elegy is a beautiful, terrifying, devastating and provocative triumph of the mind.

What’s being said on Twitter?


To see this content you’ll need to allow us to set some additional cookies!

Update your cookie preferences here and enable ‘social and advertising cookies’


To see this content you’ll need to allow us to set some additional cookies!

Update your cookie preferences here and enable ‘social and advertising cookies’

Will I like it?

If you like beautiful writing and stunning staging, then yes. Like Payne’s previous plays Constellations and Incognito, Elegy is a visceral and dreamlike experience as memories, love and loss lap against one another. It’s a play soaked in passion, even as it asks big questions about the future of science and exactly how much we can lose of our ‘self’ and still call our life ‘our life’.

When the lights go up on a Payne play, it’s like finishing a great book, the characters seem to go on living and breathing for years to come, even without the audience to watch over them.

Elegy is playing until 18 June. You can book tickets through the Donmar Warehouse’s website.


Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.