About this event
Cost £10
Following their hugely successful debut production of Marlowe's Edward II, new company Eyestrings present the world premier of In Bed With Messalina. This dynamic, challenging black comedy is written in fast flowing verse by exciting young talent Benjamin Askew and is directed by Cheek by Jowl's Owen Horsley, Eyestrings' Artistic Director.

From humble beginnings as a dancer in Caligula's court, Messalina has risen to be one of the most famous and controversial figures in the Roman world. Since unexpectedly becoming Empress at the age of nineteen she has shocked the populous with her countless affairs, scandalous parties and total disregard for public decency. But has the Empire's first lady finally gone too far? A bigamous wedding and a botched attempt to overthrow the Emperor have left Messalina awaiting trial and possible execution... It looks like the party might be over.

By bringing this ancient story into the midst of a modern-day media circus, and by using classical forms to investigate contemporary themes, In Bed with Messalina hopes to show the Cult of Celebrity in a whole new light. It is the story of a young girl whose ambition and lust for fame is as recognisable and relevant today as it was two thousand years ago.

Benjamin Askew's first play The House of Gingerbread had a sell out preview at the Arcola last year before heading up to the Edinburgh Festival, where it was selected as a "Pick of the Fringe". A new adaptation of the script is currently being developed with BBC Radio Drama. His first full-length play Perfect Shadows was recently given a reading at The Jerwood Space in Southwark. He has worked professionally in theatre, television and Radio including two seasons with the Shakespeare's globe company and several months with the BBC radio company.

"Darkly amusing and dripping with sex appeal... Benjamin Askew is a writer with a flair for creating rich and flavoursome dialogue; from Shakespearean-style verse to sharp, modern-day banter."
The Scotsman
The House of Gingerbread 2008

Owen Horsley has assisted Cheek by Jowl's director Declan Donnelan for three years, working on The Changeling, Cymbeline and Troilus and Cressida at the Barbican and major international venues. Horsley will be working with Cheek by Jowl again this year on the world tour of Macbeth. He is also set to direct a new touring production of Romeo and Juliet for theatre company Love and Madness. Horsley has a new and exciting global outlook on the way theatre can be expressed through making courageous and vital work that speaks universally to its audience. 
"The first production of new company Eyestrings reveals that this collective of young, talented theatre practitioners is one to watch out for... an astonishing amount of talent concentrated in so young a company... this is a compelling, involving production..."
Curtain Up
Edward II 2008
Official Review by Coco Hall, read now
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