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Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Complicité/Simon McBurney

A  snarling open-mouthed wolf is biting the end of a shotgun that's pointed at it. The end of the gun is bent into a U shape, aiming back at the shooter who can't be seen holding the gun. The image is monochrome on a red background.

World-renowned company Complicité return to our stage with a brand-new production based on Nobel prize-winning writer Olga Tokarczuk’s darkly comic novel, directed by Simon McBurney.

In the depths of winter in a small community on a remote Polish mountainside, men from the local hunting club are dying in mysterious circumstances and Janina – an eccentric older local woman, environmentalist and devoted astrologer – has her suspicions. She has been watching the animals with whom the community shares their isolated, rural home, and she believes they are acting strangely…

A thought-provoking, wry and otherworldly murder mystery, this is a tale about the cosmos, poetry, and the limitations and possibilities of activism.

Simon McBurney directs a new work for theatre based on Nobel Prize winning author Olga Tokarczuk’s acclaimed novel, which was shortlisted for the 2019 International Booker Prize.


Age guidance: 12+
Running time: Approximately 3 hours

Contains moments of intense bright lights, haze and gunshots. There is also swearing, nudity, violence and the staged mistreatment of animals.

Pre-show talk, Wed 22 Mar, 6pm (Theatre stalls)
Join us for a discussion on the limits and ethics of activism. Free to same-day ticket holders. 

Post-matinee talk, Thu 23 Mar, 2.30pm (Theatre)
Q&A with the cast and creative team. Free to same day ticket holders

Captioned performance 
Sat 25 Mar, 2.30pm

Polish-surtitled performance 
Tue 28 Mar, 7.45pm

Audio-described performance and Touch Tour
Thu 30 Mar, 6.30pm: touch tour
T̶h̶u̶ ̶3̶0̶ ̶M̶a̶r̶,̶ ̶7̶.̶4̶5̶p̶m̶:̶ ̶a̶u̶d̶i̶o̶-̶d̶e̶s̶c̶r̶i̶b̶e̶d̶ ̶p̶e̶r̶f̶o̶r̶m̶a̶n̶c̶e̶ (AD cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances)

Related events
In Conversation: Polish Echoes in Complicité (Tue 28 Mar, tickets £5)

A Complicité co-production with the Barbican, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Bristol Old Vic, Comédie de Genève, Holland Festival, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, L'Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe, The Lowry, The National Theatre of Iceland, Oxford Playhouse, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Theatre Royal Plymouth

Based on the novel by Olga Tokarczuk, translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Presented by the Barbican

Key artwork designed by Patryk Hardziej


Captioned performance 
Sat 25 Mar, 2.30pm

Polish-surtitled performance 
Tue 28 Mar, 7.45pm

Audio-described performance and Touch Tour
Thu 30 Mar, 7.45pm

Find out more about Accessible Events at the Barbican.

Audio Described Promotional Flyer

Education and Resource Pack

This resource pack for teachers and students includes additional insight into the production and engaging tasks for groups to further explore the work.

Complicité associate performers teach a range of workshops on physical preparation of the body, ensemble, improvisation, devising and text-based work. If you are interested in finding out about bringing Complicité into your school to deliver a workshop tied to the themes of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead please email [email protected]



Digital Programme


‘'A masterful, boundary-blurring call to activism... nothing short of sensational' ‘
Bristol 24/7
‘Pure mastery; a gripping, visceral interpretation... which will stay with you long after the curtain has fallen‘
Bristol 365
‘A new Complicite show isn't just a devised play: it's a theatrical event. At the company's inimitable best, it is a ticket to another world.‘
Time Out on The Master and Margarita
‘One of the most fully-immersive theatre pieces ever created‘
New York Times on Complicité’s award-winning production of The Encounter

Barbican Theatre