Smile Upon Us, Lord

Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia

A photo of men moving rocks. They are physically strained by this.
Play button icon

‘Tableaux of striking beauty and grace’ (New York Times) are a hallmark of this epic, sweeping production in which the perilous pilgrimage of three everyday men conveys a universal human story.

Efraim, an elderly stonecutter, journeys from his shtetl to Vilnius when he learns his son is awaiting trial for the attempted assassination of the governor-general there. Accompanied by his compatriots, they face calamitous setbacks on the way to their ‘promised land’.

Adapted from two novels by Lithuanian-born writer Grigory Kanovich, Smile Upon Us, Lord features an all-star Russian cast, with the 40-plus ensemble led by Vakhtangov’s esteemed Artistic Director Rimas Tuminas. At times fantastical and dreamlike, at others expressive and skilfully comic, the image-rich drama illuminates the Jewish experience in the first half of the 20th century while speaking of love and compassion for mankind. The company’s last visit here was with their sell-out, five-star Eugene Onegin in 2015.

3 hours 20 mins/including an interval

Age guidance 14+

Performed in Russian with English surtitles


See our Afternoon Arts: Stage Russia cinema screenings, including Vakhtangov’s irresistible productions of Eugene Onegin and Anna Karenina, this autumn. See below for more information.

Presented by the Barbican 

Tour produced by Oksana Nemchuk in association with ArtsBridge

Members and Members Plus save 20%.

Become a member

Tickets subject to availability


14–25? Become a Young Barbican member 

Includes a limited number of premium seats at £100*

Students are entitled to half-price tickets in advance for all Wednesday evenings. Proof of eligibility required on collection.

Buy ten or more tickets and save 20%. Call the Groups line on 020 7382 7211.

Under 16
Half-price tickets for under 16s. Up to four tickets per event and per booker only. Proof of age required on collection.

Visitors with access requirements who have joined our Access Membership scheme may be eligible for reductions on tickets. Click here for more info on our Access Membership scheme. Please inform the Box Office of your access requirements when booking, and our staff will advise you on seating, pricing, car parking and our facilities. For Minicom facilities, call 07710 854 085.

Discounts are not available on lowest price tickets and are subject to availability. Discounts do not apply to associated talks, films or workshops. They cannot be combined to make greater savings.

*Excludes £3 booking fee


‘A dark, sorrowful lament with moments of piercing and poetic imagery‘
‘A first-rate troupe‘
‘Tableaux of striking beauty and grace‘


Play button icon
a photo of three actors in the play Smile Upon Us Lord

Watch: Smile upon Us, Lord trailer


Fantastical and dreamlike, expressive and skilfully comic, Vakhtangov's 'Smile upon Us, Lord' explores the Jewish experience in the first half of the 20th century.

Collection: Theatre & Dance

Meet the directors, makers and actors who help us produce and present our rich programme of international theatre, creating dance, theatre and music that hovers on the very edge of classification as we push the boundaries of what theatre could be.   


Join membership

Get closer to our programme with priority booking, free art gallery entry, selected discounts on events, access to an exclusive members’ bar and more

Barbican Theatre