Casting announced for Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust at the Bridge Theatre

The Bridge Theatre. Photo Phillip Vile

Casting has been announced for the Bridge Theatre's production The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage, a new stage adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel by Bryony Lavery with direction by Nicholas Hytner.  The play takes place twelve years before Pullman’s epic His Dark Materials trilogy.

The cast comprises Julie Atherton, Holly Atkins, Wendy Mae Brown, Pip Carter, Samuel Creasey, Ella Dacres, Ayesha Dharker, Heather Forster, Naomi Frederick, Richard James-Neale, John Light, Dearbhla Molloy, Tomi Ogbaro, Sid Sagar, Nick Sampson and Sky Yang. 

Co-Directors are Emily Burns and James Cousins with designs by Bob Crowley, puppetry by Barnaby Dixon, lighting design by Jon Clark, sound by Paul Arditti, video designs are by Luke Halls and Zakk Hein and music by Grant Olding.  James Cousins is also movement director, Kate Waters is fight director and illusions are by Filipe Carvalho.

Two young people and their dæmons, with everything at stake, find themselves at the centre of a terrifying manhunt. In their care is a tiny child called Lyra Belacqua, and in that child lies the fate of the future. And as the waters rise around them, powerful adversaries conspire for mastery of Dust: salvation to some, the source of infinite corruption to others.

La Belle Sauvage was published in 2017 and was followed by The Secret Commonwealth in 2019. His Dark Materials, a ground-breaking production sixteen years ago directed by Hytner at the National Theatre, was also adapted for broadcast on BBC One in 2019 with the second series in 2020. Philip Pullman was knighted in 2019 for his services to literature.

The production runs from 2 December 2021 – 19 February 2022.

Full cast and creative details:

Julie Atherton’s theatre credits include The Grinning Man for Trafalgar Studios, Therese Raquin for Park and Finborough Theatres, Avenue Q at the Noel Coward Theatre, Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward, Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith, Sister Act on National Tour, The Last Five Years at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and Ordinary Days for Trafalgar Studios.  Her television credits include Embankment, Doctors, Shakespeare and Hathaway, Sound of Music Live and Otherworld and film credits include The Amazing Maurice.

Holly Atkins’s theatre credits include Romeo and Juliet, and Helen at Shakespeare’s Globe, The Ballad Of Crazy Paola at the Arcola, Scarborough at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Royal Court and Summer Begins at Southwark Playhouse. Her television credits include Home, King Gary, This Country, In The Long Run, Witless, Call The Midwife, Wallander, Criminal Justice, The Sarah Jane Adventures, City Lights, Where the Heart is, Casualty, The Project, Kiss Me Kate and EastEnders.

Wendy Mae Brown’s theatre credits include To Kill a Mockingbird for Theatr Clwyd, The Lorax for The Old Vic, White Christmas for Curve Theatre, Leicester, Kiss Me Kate for The Old Vic and Chichester Festival Theatre, Ghost The Musical on the UK Tour and Australian Tour and South Pacific for Kilworth House. Her television credits include River, Man Down, 4 Weddings and a Funeral, Porters, 40 North and Casualty. Her film credits include Last Chance Harvey and Blackbeard the Pirate.

Pip Carter’s credits for the National Theatre include Consent, Platonov (also for Chichester Festival Theatre), The Cherry Orchard, The White Guard, Gethsemane, Never So Good and Present Laughter. Carter’s other theatre credits include Mood Music for The Old Vic, The Dark Earth and The Light Sky for the Almeida Theatre, Posh for the Royal Court and Duke of York’s Theatre, Tiger Country for Hampstead Theatre and Joseph K for the Gate Theatre. His television credits include The Irregulars, Industry, The Crown, New Worlds, Fleming and Henry IV.   His film credits include 1917, Denial, Spectre, The Eagle and Robin Hood.

Samuel Creasey graduated from ArtsEd in 2020 and is making his professional stage debut. His television credits include Inside Man.

Ayesha Dharker’s theatre credits include Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello and Arabian Nights for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Pericles and Ramayana for the National theatre, When the Crows Visit and White Teeth for the Kiln, Richard II for the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, The Island Nation for the Arcola Theatre, Anita and Me for Birmingham Rep and Theatre Royal Stratford East, The Dijnns of Eidgah and Disconnect for the Royal Court.  On film her credits include The Father, Star Wars, Attack of the Clones, The Terrorist, Outsourced and Anita and Me.  On television her credits include Holby City, Doctor Who, Indian Doctor and Coronation Street.

Ella Dacres graduated from the National Youth Theatre's Rep Company in 2020 and is making her professional stage debut.

Heather Forster graduated from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2019 and is making her professional stage debut. Her TV credits include Call The Midwife, Casualty and Doctors and she is set to appear in the upcoming film The Colour Room. 

Naomi Frederick’s award-winning theatre credits are Time and the Conways for the Royal Exchange Theatre, Measure for Measure at the National Theatre and Three Sisters for the Theatre Royal Bath and on tour. Her other theatre credits include Agnes Colander for the Theatre Royal Bath and Jermyn Street Theatre, White Teeth for the Kiln Theatre, The Mentor and Hobson’s Choice for the Theatre Royal Bath and in the West End, As You Like It and The Heresy of Love both for Shakespeare’s Globe, Made in Dagenham at the Adelphi Theatre, Kneehigh’s Brief Encounter at Birmingham Rep and in the West End, Emil and The Detectives, Henry IV and Mrs Affleck all for the National Theatre, The Winslow Boy for the Old Vic and The Tamer Tamed and As You Like It both for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her television credits include Belgravia, EastEnders, Inspector George Gently, Casualty and Foyles War. On film her credits are Father Christmas Is Back, The Aftermath and The Children’s Act. 

Richard James-Neale is an actor, director and movement director. He is also a practitioner for Frantic Assembly. His theatre credits include King Lear in the US on tour, Wings for the Young Vic, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream for Shakespeare’s Globe, Watership Down for the Watermill Theatre, Peter Pan for Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, Othello for Frantic Assembly, Emil and the Detectives for the National Theatre and Pygmalion for the Old Vic. Feature films include The Batman and The Legend of Tarzan.

John Light’s more recent theatre credits include Uncle Vanya at the Theatre Royal Bath, Mary Stuart at the Duke of York’s Theatre, The Winter’s Tale and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Shakespeare’s Globe, Three Days in the Country for the National Theatre, The Blackest Black for Hampstead Theatre, Julius Caesar for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Luise Miller for the Donmar Warehouse and The Master Builder at the Almeida Theatre.  On film his credits include Albert Nobbs, Scoop, Partition, Heights, The Lion in Winter and The Ascension.  On television his credits include Around the World in 80 Days, Agatha Raisin, Mars, Maigret, Silk and Father Brown.

Dearbhla Molloy’s more recent theatre credits include Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter Theatre, The Ferryman at the Royal Court, Gielgud and on Broadway, Moment for the Studio Theatre Washington, Afterplay and Give Me Your Hand for the Irish Repertory Theatre NYC, Richard III for the Almeida Theatre, Much Ado at the Guthrie Theatre Minneapolis, Outside Mullingar at Manhattan Theatre Club, Trojan Women at the Gate Theatre and And No More Shall We Part at Hampstead Theatre.  Previously she also was seen in Dancing at Lughnasa and A Touch of the Poet on Broadway, and Cripple of Inishmaan directed by Nicholas Hytner.  Film credits include Wild Mountain Thyme, No Reservations, Home for Christmas and The Damned United.  Television credits include Women on the Verge, Acceptable Risk, Scandal, Family Tree and Wallender.

Tomi Ogbaro’s theatre credits include Ruff Tuff for Cardboard Theatre, Seagulls for Octagon Theatre, An Act of Care for York Theatre Royal, A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Sweet Charity for Watermill Theatre. On television he has been seen in Temple and on film in Dao Hides, No Name and Three Trapped Mice.

Sid Sagar's theatre credits include The Invisible Hand at Kiln Theatre, The Starry Messenger at the Wyndham's Theatre and Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre.  His television credits include Anatomy of a Scandal and Trying and film credits include Cruella and Dolittle.  As a writer, he is currently part of the London Library Emerging Writers Programme and his first short film is in development with BFI NETWORK. 

Nick Sampson’s theatre credits include Anthony and Cleopatra, Great Britain, Othello, The Captain of Kopenick, Timon of Athens, Collaborators, Hamlet, London Assurance, Dark Materials, Cyrano De Bergerac all for the National Theatre, Plenty for Chichester Festival Theatre, Julius Caesar for the Bridge Theatre, Ross for Chichester Theatre, The Gathered Leaves for The Park Theatre and King Charles III and Romance for the Almeida Theatre. His television credits include The Sister Boniface Mysteries, Belgravia, Catastrophe, Doc Martin, Witness for the Prosecution and Genius. On film his credits include Lost City of Z, An Education, Siam Sunset and Madness of King George.

Sky Yang graduated from The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in 2020 and is making his professional stage debut. His television credits include Holding and Halo. His film credits include Touchdown and Tomb Raider.

For the stage Bryony Lavery’s work includes the internationally critically acclaimed Frozen as well as Stockholm, Kursk, Dirt and Beautiful Burnout. Last year her adaptation of David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang was presented at Chichester Festival Theatre where her previous adaptations The Hundred and One Dalmatians and A Christmas Carol were also seen.  The London premiere of her play Last Easter opened at the Orange Tree Theatre in July.

For the Bridge Theatre Nicholas Hytner has directed Young Marx, Julius Caesar, Allelujah!, Alys, Always, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Two Ladies, Beat the Devil, The Shrine, Bed Among the Lentils, A Christmas Carol and Bach & Sons.  Previously he was Director of the National Theatre from 2003 to 2015.

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