York company Pilot Theatre to stage premiere of Crongton Knights

Olisa Odele: cast as McKay in Pilot Theatre’s Crongton Knights

YORK company Pilot Theatre have assembled the cast for next year’s world premiere of Crongton Knights.

Adapted for the stage by Emteaz Hussain from Alex Wheatle’s award-winning novel, Corey Campbell and Esther Richardson’s co-production will be launched at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, from February 8 to 22 before playing York Theatre Royal from February 25 to 29.

In Crongton Knights, life isn’t easy on the Crongton Estate. McKay and his mates favour keeping their heads down, but when a friend finds herself in trouble, they set out on a mission that goes further than any of them imagined. 

Katie Donnachie: playing Bushkid in Crongton Knights

Pilot Theatre’s show will take you on a night of madcap adventure as McKay and his friends, The Magnificent Six, encounter the dangers and triumphs of a quest gone awry.

The pulse of the city will be alive on stage, propelled by a soundscape of beatboxing and vocals laid down by the cast and created by musician Conrad Murray.

Rehearsals will begin in Coventry on January 6 2020. Leading the cast will be Olisa Odele as McKay, having played Ola in Chewing Gum on E4 and PC Merrick in BBC1’s Scarborough, while Kate Donnachie will take the role of Bushkid; Simi Egbejumi-David, Festus; Aimee Powell, Venetia; Khai Shaw, Jonah; Marcel White, Nesta, and Nigar Yeva, Saira.

Khai Shaw: taking the role of Jonah in Crongton Knights

The production team is led by Corey Campbell, artistic director of Strictly Arts Theatre Company and co-artistic director of the Belgrade Theatre for 2021, and Esther Richardson, Pilot’s artistic director. The designer is Simon Kenny; lighting is by Richard G Jones, who lit The Railway Children at the National Railway Museum, York.

Crongton Knights will be the second of four co-productions between Pilot Theatre, Derby Theatre, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, and York Theatre Royal, who last year formed a partnership to develop theatre for younger audiences in tandem with the Mercury Theatre, Colchester.

Heather Agyepong as Sephy in Pilot Theatre’s Noughts & Crosses at York Theatre Royal in April 2019. Picture: Robert Day

From 2019 to 2022, the consortium will commission and co-produce an original mid-scale touring production each year. Each show will play in all the consortium venues, as well as touring nationally

The consortium’s first production, Noughts & Crosses, was seen by more than 30,000 people on tour this year, with 40 per cent of the audience being aged under 20.

After the Coventry and York runs, Crongton Knights will be on tour until May 9, with further Yorkshire performances at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield, from March 31 to April 4. York tickets are on sale on 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or in person from the Theatre Royal box office.

Charles Hutchinson