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The Unfriend will transfer to the Criterion Theatre

Playful Productions is delighted to announce that Chichester Festival Theatre’s critically acclaimed, sold out production of Steven Moffat’s riotous and effortlessly entertaining comedy The Unfriend will transfer to the Criterion Theatre, previewing from 15 January with a press night on 19 January 2023 and playing until 16 April. Directed by Mark Gatiss, the full original cast reunite for the West End transfer, featuring Reece Shearsmith (Inside No.9), Amanda Abbington (Sherlock) and Frances Barber (Silk) with Michael Simkins, Marcus Onilude, Gabriel Howell and Maddie Holliday.

Gabriel Howell as Alex, Maddie Holliday as Roise - photo by Manuel Harlan.
Gabriel Howell as Alex, Maddie Holliday as Roise – photo by Manuel Harlan.

Steven Moffat said: “I am beyond thrilled that The Unfriend is going to the West End. Working on this show with my old friend, Mark, and my new friends, the amazing cast and crew, has been one of the happiest experiences of my professional life. They’ve all been very kind to a beginner.

Mark Gatiss said: “I’m absolutely chuffed to be bringing The Unfriend to the Criterion after a joyous time in Chichester. What we all need now is a really good laugh and Steven’s gloriously naughty play brings that in spades.

While on holiday Peter and Debbie befriend Elsa: a lusty, Trump-loving widow from Denver, USA. She’s less than woke but kind of wonderful. They agree to stay in touch – because no one ever really does, do they?

When Elsa invites herself to stay a few months later, they decide to look her up online. Too late, they learn the truth about Elsa Jean Krakowski. Deadly danger has just boarded a flight to London! What began as a casual holiday friendship is now a threat to the lives of their children.

Peter and Debbie now face the ultimate challenge of the modern world – how do you protect all that you love from mortal peril without seeming a bit impolite?

Because guess who’s coming… to MURDER.

Steven Moffat is a six-time BAFTA award-winning writer, whose hit television series include Doctor Who, Sherlock and Dracula – the latter two co-written with the actor and writer Mark Gatiss, who directs this production.

Mark Gatiss is a member of the sketch comedy team The League of Gentlemen alongside Reece Shearsmith, who will be returning to the cast of The Unfriend. Gatiss’ recent directing credits include The Mezzotint and The Amazing Mr Blunden for Sky Max, in which he also starred. Last Christmas he adapted and appeared as Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol at Nottingham Playhouse and Alexandra Palace.

Amanda Abbington, whose credits include TV’s Sherlock and Mr Selfridge, and The Son in

the West End, plays Debbie alongside Reece Shearsmith who plays her husband Peter. Reece’s recent work includes A Very Expensive Poison (Olivier Award nomination, Old Vic), The Dresser (Duke of York’s), Hangmen (Royal Court) and TV’s Inside No 9.

Frances Barber’s extensive screen work includes The Mezzotint, Silk and Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool; recent stage credits include Musik (Edinburgh Festival/Leicester Square Theatre: Offie Award Best Lead Performance in a Musical) and An Ideal Husband (Vaudeville Theatre)..

The cast also includes Michael Simkins, Marcus Onilude, Gabriel Howell and Maddie Holliday.

The Unfriend is designed by Robert Jones, with lighting by Mark Henderson, sound by Ella Wahlström, video design by Andrzej Goulding and casting by Charlotte Sutton CDG.

The Unfriend by Steven Moffat was originally developed by Playful Productions.

The Unfriend
Criterion Theatre
15 January to 16 April
Tickets from £20

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