The cast has been announced for the European premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Obie Award-winning play, An Octoroon, at the Orange Tree Theatre in London.
The line-up comprises Cassie Clare, Emmanuella Cole, Celeste Dodwell, Iola Evans, Ken Nwosu, Vivian Oparah, Alistair Toovey, and Kevin Trainor. They are joined by cellist James Douglas.
Ned Bennett returns to the Orange Tree to direct after his successful production of Alistair McDowall’s Pomona which transferred to the National Theatre and Royal Exchange.
An Octoroon, which premiered Off-Off Broadway in 2014, is set on a failing plantation, Terrebonne, after the death of its owner Judge Peyton. His handsome nephew George arrives as heir apparent and quickly falls in love with Zoe, a beautiful “octoroon” – a 19th-century term for a mixed-heritage person with just one black great-grandparent. However, the dastardly M’Closky has other plans for both Terrebonne and Zoe.
It is based on Irish playwright Dion Boucicault’s 1859 melodrama The Octoroon but, according to The New Yorker, this is just “the starting point for a bigger, wilder, more hilarious play about the tremendous, often tragic difficulties of identity, and life, for us all”.
American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins won the 2014 Obie Award for Best New American Play for both An Octoroon and Appropriate. His play Gloria was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The production runs at the Orange Tree from 18 May to 24 June 2017. Design is by Georgia Lowe, lighting by Elliot Griggs, sound by George Dennis and music by Theo Vidgen.