Old Vic and Wise Children presents

Wise Children

‘Let’s have all the skeletons out of the closet, today, of all days!’

It’s 23 April, Shakespeare’s birthday.

In Brixton, Nora and Dora Chance – twin chorus girls born and bred south of the river – are celebrating their 70th birthday. Over the river in Chelsea, their father and greatest actor of his generation, Melchior Hazard, turns 100 on the same day. As does his twin brother Peregrine. If, in fact, he’s still alive. And if, in truth, Melchior is their real father after all…

A big, bawdy tangle of theatrical joy and heartbreak, Wise Children is a celebration of show business, family, forgiveness and hope. Expect show girls and Shakespeare, sex and scandal, music, mischief and mistaken identity – and butterflies by the thousand.

Emma Rice (Romantics Anonymous; Tristan & Yseult) brings her unique, exuberantly impish vision to Angela Carter’s great last novel, Wise Children, launching her new theatre company of the same name.

★★★★ “A heady mixture of spectacle, comedy, music and dance… There’s a lot of backstory to fill in; telling it in a single evening in the theatre is no mean achievement, and that’s what Emma Rice and her creative colleagues (who have named their company after this piece) achieve so cleverly.” Theatre Reviews North

“A joyous celebration of theatre and of life that fits [Emma] Rice’s style of theatre absolutely perfectly… Get to see it now as, although it will probably be in the repertoire of its namesake company for a long time yet, you’ll probably want to see it again.” – British Theatre Guide

“A love letter to the theatre, to family, to Shakespeare and to growing old disgracefully… Packs a hefty punch of gleeful mischief and playful exuberance.” Live Art Alive

★★★★★ “The ultimate love letter to theatre. Complete with stars, spotlights, showgirls and Shakespeare… This is a spectacle to behold. I’d be interested to find a theatre lover who doesn’t love this show… It really has everything you’re looking for in a performance.” – Upstaged Manchester

★★★★ “Another thrilling offering from one of UK theatre’s most innovative and visionary practitioners… A magical and hugely rewarding affair.” – The Arts Shelf

“The action comes thick and fast, it motors along in a high gear delivering satisfying blows of agreeable entertainment as it goes… For fully two hours a carnival-like cabaret act is played out on stage…  A beautifully bewildering outburst of theatrical wizardry.” – The Greater Manchester Reviewer

“For Shakespeare with a modern twist, some damn good heroines in no need of saving, and fantastic showmanship, this is a guaranteed good night out with something fabulous for everyone.” – Reviewer Number 9

★★★★★ “The whole performance rocked, it had every ingredient, and every moment was dazzling.” – North West End

★★★★★ “The blurb promises ‘show girls and Shakespeare, sex and scandal, music, mischief and mistaken identity’ and the show delivers… Jolly good fun.” – Northern Soul

“The love of theatre runs through it like Blackpool rock… A deliciously extravagant and bawdy celebration of all things theatrical.” – Unrestricted Views

★★★★ “It’s a wonder that it’s taken so long for Angela Carter’s 1991 novel to be adapted for the stage. It’s been well worth the wait, joyous carnivalesque.” – Morning Star

“An entertaining, lavish, visually spectacular play… Boasts spectacular production set design, by Vicki Mortimer, that brilliantly captures the dazzling razzmatazz of show business… A visually arresting feast on the eyes.” – The Play’s The Thing

“A celebration of two great storytellers and a testament to the work that Emma Rice has and continues to make.” – Performance in Motion

“Bizarre and captivating and so much more than you could ever expect… A gloriously chaotic and beautiful show to behold.” – Mancunion

★★★★★ “I cannot imagine anyone who loves theatre not being bowled over by this life-enhancing, brilliantly uninhibited, all-singing and dancing adaptation… Joyous.” – The Observer

★★★★★ “Pure, unadulterated theatre with an airtight company, subject, direction and production… [Emma] Rice not only blind-casts the whole piece, but single-handedly gives a masterclass on how to play with gender.” – Broadway World

★★★★ “Spectacular… An inventive, smart and saucy production. [Emma] Rice’s re-launch is a splashy one, celebrating the sheer razzle-dazzle of a life in theatre.” – The Guardian

★★★★ “Emma Rice does justice to the verve and racy humour of [Angela] Carter’s writing… The result is a pleasing oddity, tinged with melancholy yet joyous and inventive.” – London Evening Standard

★★★★ “A celebration of the value of family: biological, surrogate, professional or all of the above. And with its blend of music hall and circus, of high drama and high comedy, it’s a summation of everything [Emma Rice] does best.” – The Times (behind paywall)

★★★★ “The whole thing comes across as one huge love letter to theatre, albeit one that encompasses its seedier aspects as well its power to transform and enchant.” – The Stage

★★★★ “There are so many inventive touches, you almost wish it was reined in by 25%. Yet that is the appeal of an Emma Rice show: the whole thing is so dolloped with theatrical bombast, so suffused with warmth, it finally melts you into submission.” – Daily Mail

Co-produced by the Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Oxford Playhouse and York Theatre Royal.

Want to know more about Wise Children?

  • Running time: 2hrs 30mins (inc interval)
  • Recommended age 14+
  • Contains some sexual content, swearing and adult themes throughout
  • £10 – £29 (conc. available)
  • Caption Subtitled performance provided by John Reevell on Thu 28 Feb, 19:30
  • Touch Tour provided by Anne Hornsby, Mind’s Eye Description, on Fri 1 Mar, 18:30
  • Audio Described performance provided by Anne Hornsby, Mind’s Eye Description, on Fri 1 Mar, 19:30
  • BSL Interpreted performance provided by Karl Llorca, Alexander Communications, on Sat 2 Mar, 14:00