SYMPHONY rocks Edinburgh! Reviews, radio, and busking...

SYMPHONY has been going down a storm at the Assembly Bosco tent in Edinburgh ... and our crazy talented quartet of actor-musicians are getting an awful lot of love. Check out our twitter feed for a taste of it! And reviews are in too. Broadway Baby says "you begin to wonder why more theatre isn’t done like this, until you remember that there are very few who could pull it off."  While Total Theatre calls the show "truly thrilling... If you love theatre and have ever had a band you loved, this is a show for you." And Fest Mag says it “evok[es] the atmosphere of the music festival in the middle of the city.” Take a look at the show page for more great quotes. We're glowing.

Plus, just to prove their ridiculous energy levels, our cast are not only performing daily but taking their band around town too... they played a song and had a chat with Janice Forsyth on BBC Radio Scotland's legendary Culture Studio (you can listen again here, from 42 mins in); and they did a little busking session for Castle Radio.

Catch them while you can. 5pm daily in the Bosco tent in George Square gardens, until 25th August. BOOK HERE.


Almost two years to the day since rehearsals began for its premiere in Edinburgh, nabokov's BLINK arrives in New York City. It is a journey which has seen the play travel across the world to vast acclaim. It was met with rave reviews in Edinburgh, was then hosted by Jagriti Theatre in Bangalore before returning for a sell-out run at London's Soho Theatre. At the turn of the year, BLINK went on a UK tour and now, as part of 59E59 Theaters' Brits Off Broadway Festival, it opens to an American audience. As Nick Payne's Incognito wows audiences at The Bush Theatre, this month sees the first time nabokov have had pieces running in tandem on both sides of the pond. With ten thousand Twitter followers, a vibrant presence with festivals, theatres and events around the UK and internationally and with a reputation for the bursting-onto-the-scene of bristling, brave and vastly diverse creatives, nabokov is a young company undoubtedly in an ascendancy.

And I'm completely and utterly chuffed to be involved with them.

I took up the role of Jonah Jenkins in Phil Porter's BLINK in January of this year, alongside Lizzy Watts who plays Sophie Kissack. Working with nabokov has been packed with many 'firsts' for me. My first time working on new writing. My first time working in a two-hander. My first time touring a production. My first time in New York.

Pretty typical of nabokov, I reckon. They're all about 'firsts.' And my experience has been first class. We found out about the New York leg of the tour on the opening night in Sheffield. Needless to say, we were buzzing.

It makes complete sense for BLINK to be here. It's quintessentially British whilst simultaneously being relevant to any big city in the world in 2014. It's a play about technology. About loneliness. About loss. About a connection between two people in a metropolis of idle isolation.

The first time I read BLINK, that's what stood out for me. Jonah is from a town called Barnoldswick, which is roughly fifteen minutes from my own hometown. So it wasn't difficult to imagine his world. Nor was it difficult to imagine how he felt when moved to London. The ease it is to discover a routine and to stick to it religiously is like quick-sand. The same can be said of New York. I've been here less than a week and I'm being as much as an explorer as is possible but it's impossible to avoid some sort of routine, especially with directions and the Subway. That's what stood out for me with regards to BLINK and its characters. We love routine. It's a comfort. But in a place as big as New York or in a place as big as London, a routine can easily slip in to loneliness.

Couple this with our ever increasing reliance on technology and BLINK seems as relevant to New York as bagels and big buildings.

I'm really looking forward to the month ahead. The first week has been a real team effort. Phil Porter (writer), Paul Jellis (producer), Joe Murphy (director), Josh Roche (associate director), Catherine McKinney (Soho Theatre General Manager) and Joe Price (Stage Manager) have all been here alongside Lizzy and I. Our first two shows have been very well received and it's exciting to offer the show to a new audience. It feels like a very fresh production- different to the one we toured for three months at the start of the year.

Alongside that excitement is the bewildering fact that we'll be living in such an amazing city for a month. You've really got to throw yourself in to a place like New York. Dive in to it, get lost as often as possible and speak to the locals as often as you see a yellow cab.

In a round about way- and I'm not really a method actor- there are similarities between Jonah and Sophie's experiences and with ours in New York.

A new place can open the senses. It's astonishing how your eyes and ears can get used to things to such a degree that they don't see or hear anything at all. It takes a new place to stir them in to action.

And I doubt there's any place on Earth with as much to see or hear as there is in New York City.

The novelty of the accent hasn't worn off. Nor the novelty of crossing the road with a white man instead of a green man. The police stations look like nightclubs. They're advertising divorce on the Subway. Times Square is like Piccadilly Circus with ADHD.

And I suppose, I suppose this is how Jonah felt.

Thomas Pickles


With Incognito well settled into its run at the Bush, we've promptly switched our attentions to the other side of the pond, where we opened Blink in New York last night. Phil Porter's beautiful and bittersweet semi-romance was snapped up by 59E59 Theaters, following its runs in India & Soho and its UK tour, to be part of their celebrated Brits Off Broadway season alongside other choice picks of new work from these isles. Our super talented cast from the tour, Thomas Pickles and Lizzy Watts, join us again for the New York run. We're pretty chuffed to say this is the first time we've had shows on stage on two continents at once. If you're out New York way, you can book tickets for Blink here Plus watch this space for more news soon on Symphony- our new writing-music mash up featuring plays by Ella Hickson, Nick Payne and Tom Wells- which we're gearing up to present in Edinburgh in August in conjunction with Soho Theatre. You know, cos we just didn't think 3 shows already this year was enough...  If you can make it, see you there in our rocking tent on George Sq.

INCOGNITO - knockout success at HighTide and Live

Having opened to national critical acclaim at HighTide last month, we’ve now also completed a fantastic longer run at Live in Newcastle before heading to Oxford this week. So thought it was high time for a quick run-down of what the press have been saying about Incognito so far: “Payne keeps us constantly engaged, both emotionally and intellectually” The Guardian (****)

“Groundbreaking” The Telegraph (****)

“This is shiningly brilliant, a meditation on neuroscience, memory, deception, heredity and identity: alive with compassion and wonder, streaked with intelligent humour” Theatre Cat, Libby Purves (*****)

“Throughout I was engaged by the stories, swept along by the writing and convinced by the performers” What’s On Stage (****)

“We need more playwrights like Nick Payne … An intelligent, ambitious work” The Observer (****)

“an ambitious, era-hopping portrait of neuropsychologists, their patients and personal relationships” The Times (****)

“combines complexity and compelling storytelling to memorable effect.” The Journal, Newcastle (****)

“a kaleidoscope of fast moving action, thoughts, ideas and situations” Remote Goat (****)

“Nothing prepares you for its explosion onto the stage and the alluring flood of ideas that follows a healthy cast of characters, all immaculately played by Sargon Yelda, Amelia Lowdell, Paul Hickey and Alison O’Donnell” What’s Peen Seen (*****)

“Joe Murphy’s impressive production sees a fine cast jumping from character to character and between polarised emotional states with ease” The Stage

“The play can only enhance Nick Payne’s reputation as one of Britain’s best young writers, and that of nabokov and HighTide as innovative producers of new work” In Suffolk

 “a searching meditation on the vital importance memory plays in our lives and also in the construction of our very selves” There Ought To Be Clowns

Not forgetting, of course, more brilliant audience feedback from our Newcastle audiences:

“Amazing performances, great sound design and incredible script! The characters were so compelling and such an interesting concept. So much in there I feel like I might need to see it 7 times to process it all!”

“I was thoroughly entertained throughout. I found it gritty and real, and uniquely abstract.”

“Humour and reflection acted with aplomb. Superb.”

“Loved how real it all felt.”

“Absolutely amazing. Raised interesting and difficult ideas without simplifying or trying to present an answer. Great acting, so many compelling characters in a short space of time.”

You can catch us at The North Wall, Oxford, from tonight to 10th May, and then at the Bush in London from the 14th May – 21st June.  We hope to see you soon!

Click here for more information and to book tickets

INCOGNITO wows Newcastle, now Halesworth

Last week we were thrilled to see our world premiere of INCOGNITO by Nick Payne (co-produced with Live Theatre Newcastle and HighTide Festival Theatre) have its first previews in Newcastle. Audiences were bowled over by this subtle, complex and thought-provoking exploration of neuroscience and human nature. Just a selection of audience comments: “Very smart, very slick piece of new writing, excellent fusion of several narratives with outstanding performances from highly skilled actors.”

“An intriguing and intellectually satisfying play, beautifully acted... “

“Mind blowing concept

“Powerful performance dealing with a multitude of issues from mental health, to loss and ambition. Strong cast delivered the piece with conviction and power. “

“Brilliant! Amazing versatility in the performances. “

“Interesting and thought provoking play, sensationally presented.”

“I feel like I've been through 10 rounds with a heavy weight - In the best possible way! It touched me in so many ways. A profound and moving work on our humanity and the wonder of existence.”

Now we've decamped to the HighTide festival in Halesworth, where we open tonight (10th April) and run to 19th April. After that, it's back up to Newcastle for a longer run at Live, followed by a week at the North Wall in Oxford 6-10 May and then 6 weeks at the Bush in London from 14th May. Wherever you can catch the show, we look forward to seeing you there.

For more insights - take a look at rehearsal photos here; the tantalising teaser trailer here; a video interview with director Joe Murphy here; and a blog post from writer Nick Payne here.


New writing at the Arts Club... Luke Barnes

To add to the new writing delights of SYMPHONY at the Arts Club, we are also pleased to present... PLUMS - a brand new short play by Luke Barnes Directed by Jamie Jackson

A small town love story about firewomen and Frankie & Bennies.

Luke is a writer for theatre and Television. He is currently writer-on-attachment to Liverpool Everyman Playhouse and Soho Theatre. His work is published by Oberon Books. This is his first work with nabokov.

As director, Jamie's credits as director include Bangin' Wolves (Bush Theatre Attic), CoalEaters (Theatre 503), From Where I'm Standing (Underbelly, Edinburgh), I'll Fix It Later (Soho Theatre Upstairs), Around The House (Ovalhouse),  Can You See In The Dark (Writer's Block North East / Gala Theatre Durham) , Vanishing Point (Theatre Royal Studio Newcastle). Credits as assistant director include The El Train (Hoxton Hall), The Act (Trafalgar Studios & Ovalhouse Theatre) and Only On Sundays / Courting Drama (Bush TheatreAttic).




A Word from Arts Club Assistant Producer Molly Roberts...


Molly Roberts is a freelance Actress, theatre Producer and Artistic Director of new writing company Poleroid Theatre, and is thrilled to be working with nabokov for the first time! Over the last two years she has worked as an actress in Theatre and Television (BBC/Channel 4). She has also produced numerous productions which strive to craft the contemporary image of emerging artists, at venues including Theatre503, Old Red Lion, White Bear, Etcetera, Tristan Bates & Last Refuge. She also runs WRITE IT: MIC IT a regular open "write night" at The Hackney Attic and Castle Hotel, Manchester which is dedicated to lovers of the young, quirky, new writing arts scene in the UK and allows emerging artists to show their work and bring their new writing to the stage. Molly has been given the exciting task of searching for the most dynamic, interesting and entertaining emerging and well-known talent in London to add to the upcoming nabokov Arts Club line-up. Over the last month she has been inundated with applications from writers, comedians, sketch groups and musicians who were keen to take part in the event. But despite the very high standard, places were limited and after a lot of thought & meetings, she's programmed a pick of the best!

The bill ranges from established spoken word artists Sabrina Mahfouz and Rachel Parris, to more underground, emerging performers Tara Hodge and Tom Gill. We also have comedy from Matt Lacey, best known for his youtube sensation "Gap Yah", and new talent from up-and-coming sketch sensation Omar & Lee. There’ll also be a brand new work by playwright Luke Barnes, the hilarious Lolly Jones and music from the wonderful Harriet Starling.

Come and say hello to Molly in the Pit Space where she will also be introducing all the acts performing, and get ready for a night of serious entertainment..! @moyroberts @poleroidtheatre

Sabrina Mahfouz joins Arts Club line-up


Another stellar artist joining us at the Arts Club is acclaimed writer and performer Sabrina Mahfouz. Sabrina writes plays, poems and stories. She's currently a Sky Academy Arts Scholar; Associate Artist at Bush Theatre and Poet in residence at Cape Farewell. Her first collection of plays and poetry, The Clean Collection, will be published this March by Bloomsbury.



Spoken Word at the Arts Club - Tom Gill


Born and raised in Salford, Manchester Tom Gill is a spoken word artist and performer; with a range of influences from John Cooper Clarke to The Streets.  '4 Minute Fix' marks his first solo piece, a story exploring his struggle with the daily challenges attached to social media. Tom is also a professional actor with recent theatre credits including Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre of Scotland, Manchester International Festival, Arcola Theatre, and films including Eden Lake and Angels in Small Change.

2014 promises a collection of exciting new work by this up-and-coming young artist.

his performance marks him out as a young talent to watch’

- Whats On Stage ****


Introducing the Arts Club performers... Rachel Parris


Also adding to our comedy line-up this Fri and Sat is award-winning musical comedian, actor and improviser Rachel Parris (The IT Crowd, Austentatious). Rachel's comedy songs have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and recently earned her a Chortle Award nomination. She performed her debut solo comedy show "The Commission" at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, to great acclaim, garnering 4 and 5-star reviews in several national newspapers, and she will be performing a run of it at Soho Theatre in March. She has recently been named as Timeout Critic's Choice, (for The Commission), in Jason Manford's Top Ten Comedians and as the Independent's Bright Young Thing in comedy for 2014.

"One sometimes doubts that Britain's got talent, but Parris has it in Spades"

- The Guardian


Spoken word at the Arts Club - Tara Hodge


Tara Hodge is an actress and spoken word performer. She has been performing from the age of twelve and has worked extensively in TV, film and theatre (theatre credits including Mogadishu at the Royal Exchange/Lyric Hammersmith and Beautiful Thing at the Royal Exchange). In her spoken word pieces, she always writes from her own experience, aiming to tell stories that are honest, truthful and realistic. Her spoken word piece Let Me Live has had over 2000 youtube hits. Watch an interview with Tara here.


Introducing the Arts Club performers... Omar and Lee


Also tickling your funny bones this Fri and Sat will be dynamic new comedy duo, Omar and Lee.

"A compelling duo"

"Funny, fresh and wanted more!"

Omar and Lee are an emerging comedy duo gearing towards an exciting 2014. They trained together, they've lived together, they even had a cat together (which now lives with Omar's girlfriend's Mum) and now they make people laugh together. Come and experience Omar and Lee's skewed view of the world around them as they try and make sense of it all.

Omar and Lee are actor/comedians who trained at the Guildford School of Acting. Together they have written and performed several short plays and sketches at venues such as Hackney Attic, Cockpit Theatre, Lost Theatre, the Etcetera in Camden and Marylebone Gardens.

Catch a glimpse of this fresh comedy partnership before they sky rocket to stardom!


Harriet Starling joins the Arts Club line-up


Nabokov are thrilled to announce the appearance of Harriet Starling at the nabokov Arts Club this Friday and Saturday. Bringing pop folk music to empower your heart, the incredibly talented singer and songwriter Harriet Starling is storming the music scene with a fresh new sound reminiscent of great folk artists such as Laura Marling.

A self-confessed daydreamer, Starling has been described as having a ‘starry presence’ (John Mitchinson, Dover St Arts Club), and having only written her first song 18 months ago, her instant popularity is a clear indication of her unquestionable talent.

Harriet Starling started off training as an actress, with an immense fear of singing in public (how ironic!), until an inspiring dream gave her the impulse to sign up for a showcase in Soho. Since then, she has performed at gigs all around London, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to invite her to the stage at the Arts Club.

Watch her first music video for ‘Ultraviolet’ here

Introducing the Arts Club performers… Matt Lacey


Next to join our stellar line-up for the nabokov Arts Club is internet sensation and comedy genius, Matt Lacey.

The most natural performer... a comedy sensation” Dominic Maxwell, The Times       

“The Daniel Day-Lewis of character comedy” KCLR Radio

Matt is an actor, writer and comedian. He has performed as an actor and comic all over the world from Tokyo to New York, via Edinburgh, Glastonbury and the Alps, as well as on the BBC, Channel 4 and Comedy Central. He is the author of ‘The Gap Yah Plannah’ (Fourth Estate, 2011), based on his award-winning YouTube sketch 'Gap Yah'. His writing has appeared in Tatler, The Telegraph, Company, Vice and The Observer. His work has been described as "reminiscent of a young Bob Dylan" by the guy who hangs around outside his local Iceland.


Introducing the Arts Club performers... Lolly Jones


Introducing the first of many spectacular performances to grace the stage of the nabokov Arts Club at VAULT - a fantastic new play by Lolly Jones: ‘This isn’t a thing, right?’ Maddy: 'Pearson’s not a Metrosexual.  He is quite accidentally, unequivocally and unapologetically, a man'.

Pearson:  'Tell me you love my cock'.

Maddy: 'It’s cold.  I’m stood by Chicken Cottage.  Let me the fuck in'.

Written and co-performed by Lolly Jones, ‘This isn’t a thing, right?’ tells the story of two fuckbuddies, treading water in a vacuous, crumbling London, and their meeting one night, two floors above a late eatery on the (not-quite-Shoreditch) Old Street roundabout.

Lolly is a writer and comedienne with the Ministry of Merkin.  Most recently, she has appeared on Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe after making viral comedy Charlie Brooker Ruined my Life.  Her written work has appeared in TimeOut magazine, at London Independent Film Festival and on the Lolly Does London blog.  As an actress, she has appeared in a variety of TV adverts for questionably ethical products, understated European theatre tours and (enhanced by her 'face for radio' credentials) in Saturday Night, Sunday Morning for BBC Radio 4.


Ushers needed for the Arts Club

We are looking for ushers for the nabokov Arts Club this weekend. Working with our Front of House team, you'll need to be ready to greet people and give information, or look after the artists and let them know where they're going.  We'll need people from 9pm to 1am on Friday 28th February and Saturday 1st March, and we can offer you a free ticket to come to the Arts Club on the night that you're not working. See more about the event here

If you're interested in joining the nabokov team for this stellar one-off event, just send an email to


Our amazing SYMPHONY actors have been beavering away over the last 2 weeks, weaving live music with spoken word to bring Tom, Nick and Ella’s stories to life. With the show opening tonight, we thought high time to properly introduce them and give them the shout-out they deserve…

SYMPHONY cast pics

Remy Beasley joins us fresh from the National Theatre Wales’ latest festive show, Silly Kings, performed in Cardiff Castle. With other National Theatre Wales credits under her belt, plus past work with director Joe Murphy including the barnstorming all-female Taming Of The Shrew for Shakespeare’s Globe and Fairy Tales for nabokov, oh AND she was in Symphony the first time round too – we know we’re in safe hands. She’s on bass, guitar, and vocals.

Jack Brown and Iddon Jones also performed in Symphony’s first run. Jack boasts various screen credits and last year was in Michael Grandage’s psychedelic West End Midsummer Night’s Dream opposite Sheridan Smith and David Walliams. And he’s got a pretty decent musical range – in Symphony playing guitar, drums, bass and harmonica, plus vocals of course. Iddon originates from Anglesey, North Wales; he attended Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, and while there received the Gyearbuor Asante Prize, a Laurence Olivier (Personal Manager's Association Award) and a John Thaw Foundation Award for acting. He played Moritz in DEFFRO’R GWANWYN (Welsh translation of Spring Awakening) and Llew Llaw Gyffes in BLODEUWEDD, both for Theatr Genedlaethol. Other stonking classical credits include Adrian Noble's Tempest at Theatre Royal Bath and A Christmas Carol at Birmingham Rep. And new writing work includes The Best Years of Your Life and First Time Voters for nabokov, Playlist for Theatre503, and Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco for Sheer Drop Theatre.  He’s on guitar, drums, and vocals.

Last but not least, Adam Sopp has Starred as Ringo (yes, I know) in a North American tour of the Beatles musical Backbeat, just recently worked with Ruth Wilson on The El Train at Hoxton Hall, and also honed his festival credentials with outdoor performances at Glastonbury and Wilderness festivals for Red Not Dead (Shakespeare’s Globe Education project). He’s on keyboard and drums. And vocals! (Got it? This show has singing in.)

Come see them in action from tonight to 1st March. And take advantage of just-announced TICKET OFFER - £10 tickets for any performance tonight through to Saturday, when you quote promo code ASTHMA.

nabokov Arts Club call for new acts!

We are looking for unique and exciting acts for our next event at VAULT Festival on Friday 28th February and Saturday 1st March 2014. The Arts Club will be taking over VAULT Festival to celebrate its 5th birthday on both nights with our trademark mix of live arts and partying that has seen sold out crowds and national press coverage for our previous events at Village Underground, BAC and the Edinburgh Fringe.

What we want:

We’re looking for comedians, poets, storytellers, theatre-makers, musicians, sketch groups, dancers, cabaret acts, circus performers – or anything else that you think might tickle our fancy. For this event we’ll be exploring the theme ‘London, Underground’ so we’re especially interested in anything related to this, but it’s far from essential.

You’ll need to be available for a possible meeting, a tech slot on Friday 28th and then your performance times on the evenings of Friday 28th and Saturday 1st (from 11pm onwards).

What we can offer you:

We’re interested in finding new talent for the variety of events that we produce. For this initial event we will not be offering a fee to performers who are selected, but we are able to offer you the chance to perform at a unique event at a prestigious venue and to a large audience, as well as artistic support and advice. We hope that this could be the start of new and fruitful relationships with artists from across the spectrum, and indeed several artists who have come through this audition process have gone on to collaborate with us further.

To apply:

To apply, please email a description of your act and any supporting material (cv, reviews, video, photos etc) to Molly Roberts before Monday 10th February. We’ll try to get back to everyone who applies but this may not be possible if the volume of applicants is high. We only have a limited number of spaces this year, so if we’re interested but unfamiliar with your work, we may call you in for a meeting.

Please note that this is not an open audition for individual actors. Good luck!


Happy New Year! While most of the country slowly creaks back into life after the Christmas hibernation, we're hard at work with the continuing joy of our hit show BLINK at Soho Theatre, whilst putting the finishing touches to our BIGGEST EVER SEASON OF WORK! BLINK by Phil Porter will be out on the road in January and February after the completion of its run at Soho Theatre, touring for 8 weeks to some of the UK's most prestigious venues. We can't wait to share this gem with audiences around the country.

Also in February we'll be working on no fewer than THREE interlinked, multidisciplinary projects. SYMPHONY, our collection of short plays with live music by three of the UK's hottest writers - Ella Hickson, Nick Payne and Tom Wells - returns after wowing festival audiences in 2012 for a residency at VAULT festival in Waterloo. We'll also be working with the same company to develop a brand new multidisciplinary show with the award-winning spoken word artist, rapper and MC DIZRAELI. The end of February, also at VAULT festival, sees the return and 5th birthday of our legendary event THE NABOKOV ARTS CLUB! We'll have live theatre, spoken word, immersive adventures, individual experiences, bands, DJs - and even a live free running show! Stay tuned for the line-up announcement soon...

And if that wasn't enough for you, we are extremely excited to announce our brand new world premiere production, INCOGNITO by Nick Payne - a co-production with Live Theatre Newcastle and HighTide Festival Theatre. We're thrilled to be presenting this fascinating new play from the winner of the Evening Standard Award for Best New Play for CONSTELLATIONS. Directed by our very own Joe Murphy, INCOGNITO will preview at Live in April before heading to HighTide Festival and then a further run back at Live, followed by a week at The North Wall in Oxford.

We think you'll agree it's a season to be really excited about, and we can't wait to share it with you all. Check out the individual show pages for full details and booking links.

If you're yet to see BLINK at Soho, make sure you catch it before it closes on the 11th Jan; and we'll see you at some point along the way!