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John Malkovich in Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

First look: Bitter Wheat starring John Malkovich

Robin Johnson

By Robin Johnson First Published 17 June 2019, Last Updated 17 June 2019

As well as being there to entertain, theatre needs to challenge, and new play Bitter Wheat looks set to do just that. Its premise might sound familiar: a corrupt Hollywood producer holds court in his industry, shamelessly burying the past through sheer influence. But when that producer is played by the magnificent John Malkovich, and the play is written by Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet, you’re in safe hands for an entertaining, if thought-provoking, evening.

So it’s to a backdrop of huge intrigue that Bitter Wheat has landed at the West End’s Garrick Theatre. And with the show set to open this week, we’re excited to get a first glimpse at John portraying producer ‘Barney Fein’ – as well as his fellow co-stars in action.

As well as John, Bitter Wheat stars Doon Mackichan – best known for creating and starring in Channel 4’s comedy series Smack The Pony – as Barney Fein’s assistant Sondra, and Ioanna Kimbook in her debut theatre performance as Yung Kum Li. The Bitter Wheat cast also includes Alexander Arnold as Roberto, Teddy Kempner as Doctor Wald, Matthew Pidgeon as The Writer and Zephryn Taitte as Charles Arthur Brown.

Take a look at Manuel Harlan’s production photos below, then get hold of your tickets – the show’s playing until 21 September.

Teddy Kempner and John Malkovich in Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)Teddy Kempner and John Malkovich

Doon Mackichan and John Malkovich in Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)Doon Mackichan and John Malkovich

The cast of Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)The cast of Bitter Wheat

John Malkovich in Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)John Malkovich

Ioanna Kimbook in Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)Ioanna Kimbook

Zephryn Taitte in Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)Zephryn Taitte

Bitter Wheat transports audiences to an envisaged Hollywood hell hole, where everything is for sale – except the awards, which are only to rent. The show will explore the monstrous Barney Fein’s fall from power to worldwide shame, with a helping of chaos and comedy.

Ioanna Kimbook in Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)Ioanna Kimbook

Alexander Arnold and John Malkovich in Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)Alexander Arnold and John Malkovich

John Malkovich and Matthew Pidgeon in Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)John Malkovich and Matthew Pidgeon

Ioanna Kimbook and John Malkovich in Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)Ioanna Kimbook and John Malkovich

Ioanna Kimbook and John Malkovich in Bitter Wheat (Photo: Manuel Harlan)Ioanna Kimbook and John Malkovich

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