Things you should know about A Very Expensive Poison


It’s an explosive, inventive play about the radioactive murder of ex-FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006. It follows his and his wife Marina’s journey from Moscow to London, via a police investigation and the plot by his assassins, all the way to the A&E department of a North London hospital as doctors try to solve their mystery patient’s illness.

It is the first new play by Lucy Prebble in seven years. Lucy’s other plays are wildly successful including ENRON which began at Chichester Festival Theatre then transferred to the West End and Broadway, and The Effect at the National Theatre, a love story about an anti-depressant drug trial starring her friend Billie Piper, with whom she often works.

It is based on the book by journalist Luke Harding, described by The Guardian as ‘an amazing and horrifying story’. Luke found himself dangerously close to events when he discovered he had travelled on the plane on which the assassins had carried the radioactive poison to kill Litvinenko.

The play is a mixture of real events, vaudeville and thriller. — To meld fact and fiction in a way we are all too familiar with.

The show is directed by John Crowley (The Present, Broadway). John is also well known for his BAFTA winning film Brooklyn and the upcoming film adaptation of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch.

It is designed by Tony award-nominee Tom Scutt. Scutt’s dazzling work includes the MTV Music Awards, Woyzeck at The Old Vic and King Charles III at the Almeida Theatre.

The show has a large cast, playing many different characters. It whirls across the last 25 years and several different countries, trying to discover how we have ended up here, on the edge of a broken Europe, with yet another fierce stand-off between East and West.

A Very Expensive Poison is playing from 20 Aug. Tickets from £12.

‘A playwright blessed with an exceptionally fine mind’

The Telegraph on Lucy Prebble

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