★★★★ ‘Sharp, witty and intelligent… a towering performance by Joe Dixon… Compelling’ The Guardian
‘Powerful… a tour-de-force performance’ The Stage

Starring Olivier Award-winner Joe Dixon (The Orphan of Zhao, RSC; The Mummy Returns; Atlantic, BBC), Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Adam Riches and Fresh Meat star Gemma Chan.

An epic drama of heroism, love and homeland, Sophocles’s Ajax is brought urgently to life in this thrilling new play by Olivier Award-winner Timberlake Wertenbaker. Torn between army politics and the love of his soldiers on the front line of war, the legendary leader begins to spiral out of control.

Developed from interviews with current and former servicemen and women, this incisive and powerful new work comes to Southwark Playhouse directly following the smash hit West End revival of Wertenbaker’s multi-award-winning modern classic Our Country’s Good.

Directed by Evening Standard Award nominee and Southwark Playhouse Associate David Mercatali (Tender Napalm, Someone to Blame).

★★★★ ‘A theatrical landmark’ Daily Mail on Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good (Out of Joint/West End)
★★★★ ‘Natural Perspective’s fast-paced and unsettling modern-dress production… gripping and crystal-clear’ Independent on Sunday on Wertenbaker’s Britannicus (Wilton’s Music Hall)
★★★★ ‘Timberlake Wertenbaker’s excellent new translation’ Guardian on Wertenbaker’s Britannicus (Wilton’s Music Hall)
★★★★ ‘Sensationally staged by David Mercatali’ Guardian on Tender Napalm (Southwark Playhouse and National Tour)

Supported by the Unity Theatre Trust.
With thanks to White Light and the Almeida Theatre

Cast and Creative
Creative Team

David Mercatali

James Turner

Lighting Designer
Christopher Nairne

Max Pappenheim

Annie Rowe


Frances Ashman
Gemma Chan
Oliver Devoti
Joe Dixon
James Kermack
Jordan Mifsud
William Postlethwaite
Adam Riches
John Schwab
Fiona Skinner
Douglas Wood

One of the UK’s leading classical actors, Joe Dixon is best known for work with the RSC including The Swan Season (for which he led the Olivier Award-winning ensemble) and The Roman Actor (nominated, Best Supporting Actor Olivier Award) and The Orphan of Zhao. On film and television, he is best known for The Mummy Returns and BBC’s Atlantis.

Best known as a comedian, Adam Riches was named Time Out Comedy Person of the Year 2012 and was nominated for a 2012 South Bank Award, and in 2011 won the Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Award for Bring Me the Head of Adam Riches. Recently he has appeared in Sky Atlantic’s Common Ground and won acclaim as Andy Warhol in A Thousand Miles of History at the Bussey Building.

Gemma Chan is best known for TV roles in Channel 4 comedy-drama Fresh Meat and ITV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl. Other TV includes Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes (BBC One), while theatre includes Turandot (Hampstead Theatre) and Yellow Face (Park Theatre).

Post Show Events

Mon 11 Nov – Post-show discussion: Military mental health
A discussion of military mental health and themes arising from the play with Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Director of the Centre for Military Health Research at King’s College London and trustee of military health charity Combat Stress; Major Richard Streatfeild, commander of the 3rd Battalion of the Rifles Regiment in Helmand in 2009-10, and a regular contribution on military questions to Radio 4’s Today programme; Eilidh MacLeod, Senior Counselling Psychologist at military mental health charity Combat Stress; playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker; and others TBC.

Wed 13 Nov: post-show Q&A – adapting classical drama for modern audiences
Playwright Wertenbaker in conversation with Oliver Taplin (Greek Tragedy in Action) and Dr Fiona Macintosh of Oxford University’s Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama.

Free to ticketholders of that evening’s performance.

‘Sharp, witty and intelligent… a towering performance by Joe Dixon… Compelling’ The Guardian

‘Powerful… a tour-de-force performance’ The Stage

‘Sharp, witty and intelligent… a towering performance by Joe Dixon… Compelling’ Guardian

‘Utterly believable… leaves you thinking about the daily terrors faced by troops on the front line’ Time Out

‘Frank and compassionate… riveting’ Financial Times

‘Joe Dixon’s performance is the beating heart of David Mercatali’s production… Gemma Chan brings an elegant guile to the vindictive goddess Athena’ Evening Standard

‘A punishing 90 minutes, blood-soaked, desolate and pockmarked with grim jokes… a play of undeniable relevance’ Metro