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Mood Music

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Multi Olivier Award-winner Joe Penhall's new play Mood Music explores the power, passion and price of creativity within the music industry. Read More >

Multi Olivier Award-winner Joe Penhall’s new play Mood Music explores the power, passion and price of creativity within the music industry.

To some of us music may be medication – but in Penhall’s timely new cutting drama, it’s the industry’s dark side that needs to be explored. Packed with bitter legal battles, psychological demands and lost lives, the cost of fame and success can be brutal.

Making its world premiere as part of The Old Vic’s bicentenary season, Penhall (who previously wrote Olivier-winning shows Blue/Orange and Sunny Afternoon) pens this new play, set in an expensive London recording studio, where artists regularly go to war.

In one particular case, a young songwriter Cat (Seána Kerslake, star of Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope), her producer Bernard (former Tony and Olivier Award nominee Ben Chaplin), their lawyers and their psychotherapists go to battle over who owns a hit song. Amidst accumulating bitter complaints, accusations and recriminations, Cat and Bernard inflict a devastating toll on one another.

Exploring the character needed to succeed in such a competitive environment, Mood Music is a play about the drama and psychodrama of making music. “The elixir of life. It’s for injecting into the blood stream to take away the pain… to promote euphoria… to adrenalise us and give us courage and empathy.”

Along with his Olivier Award-winning plays, Penhall’s writing credits include crime thriller Mindhunter, created for Netflix in 2017, as well as Birthday, his stage play which he went on to adapt into a hit Sky Arts show. He has also penned plays including Haunted Child, Pale Horse (Thames Television Best Play Award), Some Voices (John Whiting Award), Dumb Show (Royal Court), and Landscape With Weapon.

Now he turns his attention to Mood Music, an excitingly psychological play which opens in The Old Vic’s bicentenary season and promises to embody his signature thrilling style.

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Age Recommendation: 14+. Includes strong language

ben chaplin joe penhall mood music seana kerslake the old vic

Important Dates & Timing

Previews From: 21/04/2018

Opening Night: 02/05/2018

Closing Night: 16/06/2018

Running time: 2h05, inc. interval

Security note: For your comfort and security, you may be subject to additional checks on your visit to London theatres. Please contact the venue for more information.

Cast & Creative


Bernard, a record producer - Ben Chaplin

Cat, a recording artist - Seána Kerslake

Ramsay, Bernard's psychotherapist - Pip Carter

Miles, Cat's lawyer - Kurt Egyiawan

Vanessa, Cat's psychotherapist - Jemma Redgrave

Seymour, Bernard's lawyer - Neil Stuke


Director - Roger Michell

Costume - Dinah Collins

Lighting Designer - Rick Fisher

Set Designer - Hildegard Bechtler

Sound - John Leonard

Author - Joe Penhall

Music By - David Arnold

ABOUT The Old Vic

The Cut, London, United Kingdom, SE1 8NB