Spring 2023 Season puts partnerships centre stage

20 Oct 2022
  • New Complicité production Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead opens in Bristol
  • Return of Olivier Award-winning Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort of)
  • Brand-new collaboration with Extraordinary Bodies and Plymouth Theatre Royal, with music by Charles Hazelwood
  • New production of Anna Karenina in co-production with Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh
  • City-wide community show for Summer 2023 featuring 140+ Bristolians
  • Jam-packed programme in the Weston Studio for first time since 2019

Bristol Old Vic begins 2023 with a series of blockbuster titles, produced in partnership with some of the UKs leading theatre companies.

Collaborations with Complicité, The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Paines Plough and Extraordinary Bodies fill the Theatre with world premieres and returning hits, while the Weston Studio has a packed season for the first time since returning out of the pandemic; hosting work by some of the best and brightest theatre makers from the region and across the UK.

Bristol Old Vic’s award-winning Engagement team presents a major summer production, bringing together more than 140 participants aged 8–80 to tell a uniquely Bristolian tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. This production is just one of the ways Bristol Old Vic continues to strengthen connections across the city, providing for those with limited access to creative opportunities in Bristol and beyond. New and ongoing initiatives include working with groups across Bristol’s migrant community, those with experience of homelessness, young people struggling with belonging, and inter-generational connections to find common ground across the ages.

The year also sees the start of a new partnership for the organisation as Executive Director Charlotte Geeves is joined by New Artistic Director Nancy Medina, taking up her post full-time from 1 Mar 2023.

Charlotte Geeves, Bristol Old Vic’s Executive Director said:“We’re delighted to welcome Nancy as Artistic Director and Joint Chief Exec and cannot wait to share with you details of her first season. In the meantime, this spring sees us focussing on the things that connect us – across our communities, across the region and the UK-wide theatre sector. The partnerships we forge here over the years – and the new ones we’re making every day – are invaluable, not only to us, but to those artists and communities we work with in Bristol and further afield. Alongside theatre shows that bring joy and bring people together, pricing that helps make that experience affordable for everyone, and our new daytime-to-evening offer in the Kitchen+Bar, we hope our welcome will encourage more people to ‘come on in’ this spring.”

The spring season goes on sale to members from 20 Oct, and on general sale from 27 Oct.

To allow even more people to take advantage of this priority booking period, Bristol Old Vic today launched a new membership scheme for anyone who wants to get closer to the action. Find out more here.


Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is Complicité’s long-awaited new work for theatre, directed by Simon McBurney which opens at Bristol Old Vic on 19 Jan (Press Night 24 Jan) ahead of a national press night in London. It is co-produced with the International touring company Complicité and Bristol Old Vic, Barbican London, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Comédiè de Genève, Holland Festival, Les Théâtre 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. Complicité return to Bristol Old Vic after their ground-breaking production The Encounter in 2015.

Based on Nobel Prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk’s genre-defying novel of the same name, the darkly comic, anarchic noir caused a seismic reaction in her native Poland due to its defiant attack on authoritarian structures, with right-wing press branding the writer an ‘eco-terrorist’ and national traitor. A thought-provoking, wry and other worldly murder mystery, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is a scathing reproach of toxic masculinity, the treatment of the marginalised, and the hypocrisy of institutional power.

From 24 Feb, Bristol Old Vic present the welcome return of Paines Plough with You Bury Me, an explosive, political debut from Ahlam, directed by Katie Posner and winner of The Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2020.  A story about coming of age in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, six young Egyptians navigate friendship, loss and secret Grindr dates in the city that made them. You Bury Me speaks of a generation emerging from a national trauma, determined to live and love freely. In co-production between Paines Plough, The Women's Prize for Playwriting, 45North, The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and The Orange Tree Theatre, in association with Bristol Old Vic.

In March, Waldo’s Circus of Magic and Terror is the first West Country partnership of the season as Extraordinary Bodies, a collaboration between Diverse City and Cirque Bijou, join forces with Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Plymouth. Waldo’s Circus of Magic and Terror is an uplifting new circus-theatre musical by Hattie Naylor (Ivan and the DogsThe Night Watch) and Jamie Beddard (MessiahThe Elephant Man). Set in Germany of the 1930s, in the shadow of the growing Fascist movement, Waldo’s Troup of outcasts and misfits are staying put in their circus – a refuge of sorts, but can it truly keep them safe?

Performed by a highly skilled company of disabled and non-disabled actors, circus performers, dancers and musicians, with an original score by award-winning composer Charles Hazlewood (Paraorchestra) and stunning design by Ti Green (Touching the Void).

In May, prepare to have the roof blown off the theatre once again when we welcome back the five-star comedy sensation Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) written by Isobel McArthur after Jane Austen. Originally produced by Bristol Old Vic and regular co-producing partners Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, since opening in 2019, Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) took London’s West End by storm, winning the Olivier Award for Best Comedy. Now it’s back in Bristol from 8-20 May.

Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) is a unique and audacious retelling of Jane Austen’s most iconic love story. Men, money and microphones will be fought over in this irreverent but affectionate adaptation where the stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to romance. This “smart, laugh out loud funny” (Daily Telegraph) show features a string of pop classics including Young Hearts Run Free, Will You Love Me Tomorrow and You’re So Vain.  It’s the 1800s.  It’s party time. Let the ruthless matchmaking begin (again!)

After the West End success of Bristol Old Vic and the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh’s Touching the Void, the theatres join forces once again with Tolstoy’s masterpiece Anna Karenina, reimagined for the Bristol Old Vic stage by writer Lesley Hart and directed by Polina Kalinina (running from 7-24 Jun).

When her brother’s affair is discovered, Anna Karenina crosses the country by train to help save his marriage. But on her arrival at the station, a charged encounter with a dazzling young cavalry officer sends Anna on a course of action that could destroy her own marriage and tear her life apart. Meanwhile, rejected by his beloved, Kostya Levin vows never to marry. As Anna opens herself up to love, Kostya tries in vain to shut himself off from it. Kindred spirits, Anna and Kostya are torn between desire and duty, sexual and parental love, self and society - and they won’t live a lie. 

Anna Karenina explores a world of fakery, public shaming and patriarchal oppression, where Anna and Kostya are compelled to live truly, and to truly live – or not live at all

Bristol Old Vic is also delighted to continue its partnership with the UK’s biggest celebration of silent and classic screen comedy – Slapstick – who have been bringing their festival to the theatre for over 10 years. This partnership will be marked on Sunday 19 February in epic style with Bristol Old Vic hosting the final seven events of its 2023 edition. Highlights of Slapstick Sunday will include Laurel & Hardy love from Stephen Mangan, a Beatles film, and much Monty Python-alia including a visit from the best-loved Python of all, Sir Michael Palin. Join Sir Michael for live chats in his 80th birthday year, with two other beloved entertainers, Rob Brydon and Stephen Merchant. Booking to Bristol Old Vic members opens on 20 Oct, with general on sale, 27 Oct.

There’s also a welcome return to Bristol Old Vic Associate Company, Impermanence Dance in the Theatre with a quadruple bill of new work. Venus features collaborations with the London Symphony orchestra and author George Monbiot amongst others. Discover an eclectic, politically charged collection of entertaining and arresting pieces, performed by some of the most exciting dancers working in the UK today.


The Weston Studio is back with its first packed-to-the-rafters season post-pandemic, bringing a wild mix of theatre-makers from across the spectrum straight to the Studio floor. Select shows from the first 6 months go on sale today (20 Oct) with further exciting announcements to come.

In Feb, and after a successful tour in autumn 2021 that saw nearly 500 refugee audience members and multiple sell-out performances, Phosphoros Theatre’s All the beds I have slept in is back on tour, with an updated version and new cast from Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Morocco. This energetic company of refugee performers explore the seam of kindness and care that lies within their experience of leaving their homelands to seek asylum. Visiting the Studio 3 - 4 Feb.

This is followed by Aakash Odedra presenting a new dance show for young people aged 7+ and their families from 16-18 Feb. Little Murmur is an honest and heart-felt show combining stunning visual technology with dance and humour, to explore the trials and tribulations of living with dyslexia, facing challenges and overcoming the odds.

In March Help! I think I’m a Nationalistexplodes onto the stage from 1-3 Mar. This new one-man comedy show about identity, second homes, nationalism, xenophobia and bagpipes is written and performed by Cornish artist Seamas Carey, best known for the podcast series The Reason Why, a humorous exploration of the culture wars of contemporary Cornwall. Seamas is welcomed back to the Studio after his 2019 show Seamas Carey Meets His 4 Year-Old Self.

Hot on its heels, theatre-company YESYESNONO visit the Weston Studio for the first time. we were promised honey! (15-18 Mar), is their new show which took Edinburgh by storm this year, garnering a host of 5 star reviews. Described as “an apocalyptic, strange hour of theatre that makes you feel grateful to be alive, grateful to be part of a communal gathering of people” (FT, 5 stars), it is a story of us, our future, of paradise, and how we get there in the end.

Rounding off the spring in a style all their own, North Somerset’s legendary Living Spit return with their musical comedy One Man and His Cow. This unique story of friendship and an excess of agricultural puns is the latest laugh-out-loud production from the duo who brought us such dubious historical hits such as the Six Wives of Henry VIII, Adolf and Winston and the Bristol Old Vic 2020 Christmas show Beauty and the Beast. Running from 24 Apr - 5 May.


Spring is packed with work for families with guaranteed crowd-pleasers for little-ones. Judith Kerr’s Mog the Forgetful Cat, (14-18 Feb) adapted for the stage by Bristol’s own Wardrobe Ensemble, and her classic tale The Tiger Who Came to Tea (28-30 Jul) If little ones prefer their animals even bigger and wilder, Zog – everyone’s favourite Dragon returns to Bristol Old Vic, 5-16 Apr, and Dinosaur World Live stomps onto the theatre stage from 25-27 Jul.

Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. The historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.

They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

On 24 Sep 2018, Bristol Old Vic completed its 2-year multi-million pound redevelopment project, which transformed its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, created a new studio theatre and opened up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

Press Office: 0117 949 4901 | press@bristololdvic.org.uk