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

The Hairy Ape

Published 30 October 2015

What’s it all about?

This is the Eugene O’Neill play, the impact of which on US theatre, when it was first staged in 1922, was as thumping as a gorilla’s fist on its brawny chest.

Why? Because it took a hefty dollop of inspiration from European expressionism to tell the story of muscle-bound stoker Yank, who struggles in the most visceral fashion to understand and justify his place in a society that places him at the very bottom of the heap.

Who’s in it?

Fresh from his limber performance in TV hit Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Bertie Carvel is a threatening, aggressive presence as Yank. At this time of year, he feels like a Frankenstein’s monster, all sweat and sinew, lost, confused, dehumanised and bristling with a lust for vengeance on those who have created him and his situation.

What should I look out for?

The symbolic flourishes concocted by director Richard Jones, designer Stewart Laing and choreographer Aletta Collins, from mechanised, machine-like fire-stoking to giant looming man in the moon balloons and the co-star, reminiscent of a certain Dairy Milk advert, who appears for the final scene.

In a nutshell?

This is no chimps’ tea party; Bertie Carvel bristles with confusion, arrogance and sweaty anger in O’Neill’s expressionist masterpiece.

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 a bright yellow receptacle, a spoonful or six of symbolism, a dash of bizarreness and a drinking challenge, this will be just your cup of expressionist tea.

From the melting pot of stokers’ accents to the faceless upper classes – a perfect theatrical Halloween costume if you need a topical tip – this production asks much of you as an audience member and is strikingly imaginative. I’m sure Eugene O’Neill would have been stoked.

The Hairy Ape plays at The Old Vic Theatre until 21 November. You can book tickets through us here.


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.