On Our Shelves Now
Full Length Play
Cast: 5m, 3f
Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, London, 1833. Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, has collapsed on stage while playing Othello. Ira Aldridge, a young black American actor, has been asked to take over the role. But as the public riots in the streets over the abolition of the Slavery Act, how will the cast, critics and audience react to the revolution taking place in the theater?
WINNER! Most Promising Playwright - Lolita Chakrabarti - Evening Standard Award & Critics' Circle Award
Red Velvet is about the nineteenth century black American actor Ira Aldridge.
In a theatre dressing room in Poland, an elderly and sick Aldridge prepares to play King Lear. The intrusion of a young female journalist forces him to look back on the defining moment of his illustrious career.
Thirty years previously, Edmund Kean, one of the greatest actors of his generation, collapses on the Theatre Royal stage in London, and Pierre Laporte, theatre manager and friend, asks Aldridge to replace him as Othello. At the same time Parliament is preparing to vote in favour of abolishing slavery in all British colonies. Opinions are fiercely pided. Aldridge performs successfully at the Theatre Royal but the reactions of the cast and critics are complex and pisive. He is not allowed to fulfill his engagement and the betrayal of a dear friend changes the course of his life.
Red Velvet examines the world of the theatre, where comedy and tragedy are synonymous. The play discusses friendship, betrayal, the art of acting and prejudice.
"Shock waves rarely travel across centuries. But at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, where Lolita Chakrabarti’s 'Red Velvet' opened on Monday night, you can experience firsthand what it must have felt like to be part of one seriously rattled London theater audience in 1833." - New York Times
"Red Velvet is the play to see. A superb ensemble directed by Indhu Rubasingham from Lolita Chakrabarti’s excellent script. The audience was clearly awestruck." - The Huffington Post
"Frankly, thrilling. Red Velvet burns the place down." - Time Out New York
"...the best new play of the 2013-14 season." - Showbiz 411
"A terrific tantalizing zest in the writing and a great sense of humour." - The Sunday Times
"It’s a cracker of a play: gripping, intelligent and passionate." - Financial Times
"...fresh and sparky" - The Observer
"Chakrabarti tells her story with wit and clarity." - The Daily Telegraph