Mood Music

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Multi Olivier Award-winner Joe Penhall's new play Mood Music stars Rhys Ifans and explores the psychological demands of working within the music industry. Read More >

Multi Olivier Award-winner Joe Penhall’s new play Mood Music stars Rhys Ifans and explores the psychological demands of working within the music industry.

“Music is medication. 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 fortitude.”

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 tale of an expensive London recording studio, where two songwriters, their lawyers and their psychotherapists regularly go to war.

Discussing the character needed to succeed in such a competitive environment, Mood Music is a play about the drama and psychodrama of making music.

“I’m not saying he’s a sociopath. I’m just saying you find a lot of damaged people are drawn to the music industry. Lack of empathy, raging narcissism, grandiose egocentricity is expected of them.”

Ifans returns to lead the cast at The Old Vic, following his star turn there in Matthew Warchus’ and Jack Thorne’s adaptation of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. He will play Bernard, a Producer at the centre of events. Ifans’ previous credits include King Lear (The Old Vic), Don Juan In Soho (Donmar Warehouse), Snowdon, Alice Through The Looking Glass, The Amazing Spider-Man and Notting Hill. Further casting for Mood Music is to be announced.

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.

Dramas have a rich history in the West End; find out more about plays in London.


Age Recommendation: 12+

Important Dates & Timing

Previews From: 21/04/2018

Opening Night: 02/05/2018

Closing Night: 16/06/2018

Running time: TBC

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 Producer - Rhys Ifans

Further casting to be announced.


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