Cast announced for Zoe Cooper’s NORTHANGER ABBEY

We’re excited to announce the full cast of Northanger Abbey, with co-producers the Octagon Theatre Bolton, Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough and Theatre by the Lake Keswick.

Tessa Walker directs Rebecca Banatvala (Cath), AK Golding (Iz) and Sam Newton (Hen).

Zoe Cooper returns to the OT following the hit premières of Jess and Joe Forever and Out of Water with her new play Northanger Abbey, inspired by Jane Austen’s novel. Northanger Abbey opens at the OT on 24 January and runs until 24 February, with previews from 20 January. The production will then tour to Octagon Theatre Bolton from 1 – 23 March, Stephen Joseph Theatre from 27 March – 13 April and Theatre by the Lake from 27 April – 17 May 2024 and will be available on OT On Screen from 21 to 24 May 2024.

Playwright Zoe Cooper said today, “Northanger Abbey is a novel about friendship, love, romance and fantasy and how those things collide. What struck me on my first reading as a queer nineteen-year-old, was that the central romantic relationship, one filled with lust, anger and betrayal, is between the romantic heroine and her best friend, Isabella. It is that version of the book I wanted to explore in this reimagining.”

Director Tessa Walker added, “I am delighted to be working on Zoe’s vivid, funny, and inventive re-imagining of Austen’s classic with this fantastic cast. It’s a wonderful, playful tale of romance, gothic adventures, growing up, and the importance of stories and who gets to tell them.”

Catherine Morland knows little of the world, but who needs real-life experience when you have novels to guide you? Catherine seizes her chance to escape her claustrophobic family and join the smart set in Bath. Between balls and parties, she meets worldly, sophisticated Isabella Thorpe – Iz, to her friends – and so Cath’s very own adventure begins.

Zoe Cooper’s latest play The Kiss was performed as part of the OT’s Inside/Outside Series in April 2021. Her previous play Out of Water also played at the OT in 2019. It was produced in association with the RSC. Out of Water was named as a finalist in the 2020 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, shortlisted for the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Awards 2019, and nominated for the Best New Production of a Play Award in the Broadway World UK Awards.

Rebecca Banatvala plays Cath. Her theatre credits include I F*cked You In My Spaceship (VAULT Festival), Sap (Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Soho Theatre / UK Tour), Much Ado About Nothing (RSC), Mrs Puntila and her Man Matti (Royal Lyceum Theatre), Rotterdam (UK Tour), The Three Musketeers (The Dukes), and Trident Moon (Finborough Theatre). Rebecca can be seen in Series 2 of BBC Drama Vigil as guest character, Alia Ghazali. Other television credits include The Syndicate, and Love, Death & Robots; and for film, The Princess Switch 3.

AK Golding plays Iz. AK’s theatre credits include Twelfth Night (Nottingham Playhouse), The Messiah Complex (VAULT Festival), Tapped (UK tour), Hot in Here: An Energy Generating Dance Party (Gate Theatre), Move Fast and Break Things (FRIEGHT THEATRE), Extra Time (Derby Theatre) and Hamlet (National Theatre). For television credits include Urban Myths: Handel and Hendrix; and for film, The Colour Room and Mantis.

Sam Newton plays Hen. His theatre credits include A Woman Walks into a Bank (Theatre503), Good Day (VAULT Festival), Jack and the Beanstalk (Jacksons Lane), Big Big Sky (Hampstead Theatre), Sometimes Thinking (Frantic Assembly), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Piccadilly Theatre, UK and international tour) and Nigel Slater’s Toast (The Lowry, Edinburgh Festival Fringe). His television credits include The Bastard Son and The Devil Himself and Newark, Newark.

Tessa Walker is a theatre director and dramaturg. Recent productions include Biscuits for Breakfast (Hampstead Theatre) Run, Rebel (Pilot Theatre, tour), Symphony of Us (Coventry Cathedral, Coventry City of Culture) and The Glad Game (Nottingham Playhouse and tour). She was Associate Director at Hampstead Theatre from 2021 – 2023 where she directed Ravenscourt and Big, Big, Sky. As Associate Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre she directed Bright Places, Jekyll and Hyde, 101 Dalmatians, The Whip Hand, Looking for John, Folk, The Quiet House, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Christmas Carol, The Mother, Circles, Back Down, 366 Days of Kindness and How to be a Hero. Other directing includes The Snow Queen (The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff), The Gatekeeper (Royal Exchange Theatre), The Glee Club (Hull Truck), The Company Will Overlook a Moment of Madness, (The National Theatre of Scotland), Dream Pill, Dancing Bears (Soho Theatre), The Red Helicopter (Almeida Theatre), She From the Sea (LIFT), Harm’s Way (The Lowry, Manchester), Black Crows (Arcola Theatre), Orange (Script Cymru), Debris (Theatre503, BAC Critics’ Choice Season, Traverse Edinburgh and Staatstheater Biennale, Germany).

Northanger Abbey plays at the Orange Tree Theatre from 20 January 2024.