Bush Theatre announces two new plays and a writer in residence

The Bush Theatre announces that live performances will re-commence on 17 May with two brand new Bush commissions, Harm by Bruntwood Prize award-winning playwright Phoebe Eclair-Powell, closely followed by Lava, the debut play by Benedict Lombe. Both writers continue the Bush Theatre’s reputation for commissioning and producing new work which reflects and helps us process the world around us. The venue has also announced its new writer in residence will be Vinay Patel (True Brits, An Adventure, BBC’s Doctor Who).

Bush Theatre presents   


By Phoebe Eclair-Powell

Directed by Atri Banerjee

Design by Rosanna Vize

Cast to be announced 

At the Bush Theatre 17 May – 26 June  

Press Night – 21 May at 7 pm

Captioned performance – 3 June at 7.30 pm

Audio-described performance – 10 June at 7.30 pm

Pre-show Cast and Creative Q&A – 25 May at 6.45 pm

Harm, a thrilling and twisted new comedy on the corrosive effect of social media and isolation, by Bruntwood Prize Award-winning playwright Phoebe Eclair-Powell, directed by Atri Banerjee will open at the Bush Theatre on 17 May (press night 21 May). 

When an unhappy estate agent sells a house to Alice, a charismatic social media influencer, the two strike up an unlikely friendship. But as her obsession with Alice’s perfect world intensifies, the lines between online and reality become dangerously blurred. 

A filmed version of Harm was broadcast on BBC Four on 13 April and is now available on iPlayer. This first for the Bush Theatre is part of BBC Arts Lights Up season, which partners with theatres across the country to produce plays for audiences at home as part of the BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine initiative. The role of Alice was played by Leanne Best in the BBC version, casting for the Bush Theatre is tbc. 

Phoebe Eclair-Powell is a writer from South East London. Her recent play SHED: EXPLODED VIEW won the prestigious Bruntwood Award for 2019. Previous plays include WINK (four Off West End Nominations including ‘Most Promising New Playwright’), Fury (runner up for the Verity Bargate Award 2015, winner of the Soho Young Writers Award, Offie nomination for ‘Best New Play’), TORCH with Jess Edwards (Underbelly, New Diorama), Epic Love and Pop Songs (Pleasance Theatre), The Picture of Dorian Gray  (Watermill Theatre) and These Bridges (National Theatre Connections Festival).

Phoebe has written for award-winning Channel 4 Continuing Drama Hollyoaks and an episode of Sky and HBO Max Comedy Two Weeks To Live with Maisie Williams. Phoebe is currently working with Paines Plough and Reading Rep theatre and writing her first feature film with Film Cymru Wales.

Phoebe is an alumnus of the Channel 4 screenwriting course, BBC Drama writers group, and Stolen Pictures YA incubator with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. 

Director Atri Banerjee won The Stage Debut Award for Best Director in 2019 for his production of Hobson’s Choice at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. 

Other directing credits include Europe at LAMDA and Utopia at the Royal Exchange. 

He was previously Trainee Director at the Royal Exchange, where he was Assistant/Associate Director on productions including West Side Story, The Mysteries (also tour), Happy Days, The Almighty Sometimes, Jubilee (also Lyric Hammersmith), and Our Town. Other Assistant/Associate Director credits include The Nico Project at Manchester International Festival and Melbourne International Arts Festival and The Son at Kiln Theatre. He trained at Birkbeck and is currently a Resident Director at the Almeida Theatre.

Bush Theatre presents   


By Benedict Lombe

Cast and creative team to be announced 

At the Bush Theatre 9 July – 7 August  

Press Night – 14 July at 7 pm

Captioned performance – 22 July at 7.30 pm

Audio-described performance – 29 July at 7.30 pm

Lava will be broadcast online 9 – 21 August.  Further details to follow

Tickets for both the live performances and online broadcasts will be available soon

This is nice, init? I like it. Good little set-up to tell you the story of my name. The story of my true name.

When a woman receives an unexpected letter from the British Passport Office, she is forced to confront an old mystery: why does her South African passport not carry her first name? Armed with the soundtrack to your favourite 90s TV shows, she sets out on a journey that will take her back to the turmoil of Mobutu’s Congo, growing up in post-Apartheid South Africa, moving to Ireland, and finding love in a hostile England 

As her journey becomes inextricably linked with the tides of global history, how far will she go to unravel the truth? By turns wickedly funny and strikingly lyrical, Benedict Lombe’s Lava is an explosive debut that will turn the way you see the world on its axis.

Lava started life in 2020 as part of the Bush Theatre’s The Protest Series: a digital artistic response to the murder of George Floyd. It has now been re-imagined as a full-length play for the stage.

Benedict Lombe is a Congolese-British writer and theatre-maker based in London. 

She has been on attachment at The Bush Theatre and has been on a residency at Theatre503 as one of their five writers for 2019/2020. She has produced digital work for the Bush as part of The Protest season, Papatango Theatre Company as part of their Isolated But Open series, and a site-specific piece as part of Damsel Productions’ Outdoors season. She has been part of the BBC Writersroom cohort, has been shortlisted for the Papatango Playwriting Award and the Royal Court & Kudos TV Fellowship, amongst others. Lava will be her London theatre debut. 

She is currently working on developing original TV projects, with a focus on boldly reclaiming diasporic stories that were never allowed to be told, with the full shades of nuance and truth they always deserved. 

Vinay Patel becomes the Bush Theatre’s second Writer in Residence

The Writer in Residence programme is part of the Bush Theatre’s commitment to celebrating legacy and providing opportunities for writers at every level of their career. Following Trish Cooke’s inaugural residency, Vinay Patel will support the Bush Theatre’s literary and programming teams by mentoring emerging artists, as well as writing a full-length play during the course of his residency. 


Vinay is a playwright and screenwriter who began his relationship with the Bush Theatre in 2014, after his debut play True Brits transferred to the theatre from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. An Adventure, Patel’s epic family drama spanning seven decades and three continents opened at the Bush in 2018 to both critical and audience acclaim.

Vinay said, ‘The Bush is my home. It encouraged my early aspirations and backed me to reach them on my own terms. So I’m thrilled to join the theatre as it reopens and support it in being a place of honesty, ambition, and joy in an uncertain world.’

His first piece for television, Murdered By My Father, won the Royal Television Society award for Best Single Drama and was nominated for three BAFTAs. Vinay was subsequently named a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit for his work.

He has since written for Paines Plough, ITV, Channel 4, and the BFI, as well as contributing to the bestselling collection of essays, The Good Immigrant. Most recently, Vinay wrote for the 11th and 12th series of Doctor Who – receiving a Hugo nomination – and is developing further projects for TV, theatre and film.

About Author /

Kath is an actor, singer and writer with a passion for theatre. She has been reviewing for At The Theatre since 2014. Kath has a Masters in Performance at Liverpool Hope University and is Creative Engagement Worker for B arts, a participatory arts organisation.

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