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The Knight of the Burning Pestle

Cheek by Jowl/Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre

Cheek by Jowl reunite with Moscow Pushkin Theatre ‘so electrifyingly intense they make your hair stand on end’ (The Times) for the first time since Measure for Measure in this outrageous dark comedy. 

The London Merchant, a play about two dysfunctional families begins. But suddenly, from the audience, a grocer and his wife clamber onto the stage, explaining to the astonished actors that while they quite like the play, it could be better and more exciting. Apparently, singing, dancing, an exotic foreign location and the appearance of a knight are the missing ingredients. Luckily, their apprentice Rafe is just the man for the job.
Director Declan Donnellan and designer Nick Ormerod collaborate with Moscow’s Pushkin Theatre on Francis Beaumont’s subversive play within a play. The Knight of the Burning Pestle is a breathtaking comedy, hilarious and terrifying in its relevance to a post-expert world where everyone can be famous and anyone can write the story.

Tagged with: Theatre & dance

Duration: 1 hour 40 mins, no interval 
Age guidance: 16+ (Contains some adult themes)

Performed in Russian with English surtitles

Thu 6 Jun
Pre-show talk for members


Presented by the Barbican

Produced by Cheek by Jowl and Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre in a co-production with the Barbican, Les Gémeaux/Sceaux/Scène Nationale, Centro Dramático Nacional, Madrid (INAEM)


‘Deliriously enjoyable...a smartly controlled explosion‘
‘A whirlwind anthem to theatre and why we need it now‘
Le Figaro (France)
‘Simple and wild direction … Diabolical tempo … A blaze of life and theatre‘
Télérama (France)
‘Witty, joyous, never before have we seen such a collision of traditional and modern art‘
MK (Russia)
‘Donnellan gives free rein to the Russian actors, all magnificent‘
El País
Les Inrockuptibles (France)
‘Donnellan grasps something in Russia that we, being inside, just don’t notice - this is why, as always, he hits the nail right on the head‘
Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia)
‘Virtuoso cast‘
Les Echos (France)
‘Pure enjoyment‘
‘A richly layered, urgent telling of a play that feels more pertinent than ever‘
‘The entire company are breathtaking‘
Vash Dosug (Russia) on Measure for Measure (2015)


Photo of Cheek by Jowl, two men talking to the camera

Watch: Cheek by Jowl on The Knight of the Burning Pestle

Co-Artistic Directors Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod and the cast of The Knight of the Burning Pestle talk about this outrageous dark comedy.

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