Dolphins and Sharks

by James Anthony Tyler

12 - 30 September 2017

“My first supervisor was a African girl named Ann, and she had the nerve to tell me that I don’t have a right to call myself African American. I had to tell that heffa just because your people sold my people doesn’t mean I don’t got 
African roots.”

The European premiere

Yusuf needs a break – his philosophy degree from NYU isn’t opening any doors, but his new job would help him pay his overdue rent; Xiomara doesn’t want to settle for the marriage scenario her Dominican mother keeps pushing on her; and Isabel needs her job to put three kids through school, but still manages to keep her sense of humour.

All three are employees of Harlem Office, New York, a neighbourhood copy shop where promotions are rare, raises are even rarer, and racism is often on display.

But when one staff member is given the chance to move up to manager, friendships are tested and loyalty turns out to be less valuable than cold hard cash. Soon cutbacks and office politics have everyone fighting to keep their jobs and their sanity…

A searing new comedy about clocking in, clocking out and rising up.

Dolphins and Sharks receives its European premiere following its reading as a part of Vibrant 2016 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights It won the 2015 Fire This Time Festival in New York City, was developed through staged readings and workshop performances as part of Labyrinth’s 2015 Up Next and 2016 Barn Reading Series and recently enjoyed a successful run at Labyrinth Theater, New York City. It was also a finalist for the 2016 O’Neill Playwrights Conference

About the Playwright James Anthony Tyler

Playwright James Anthony Tyler is an award-winning playwright who holds a MFA in Film from Howard University and a MFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University. His work has been presented by OBIE Award-winning playwright Israel Horovitz at the Cherry Lane Theatre (Hand Held Out) and La MaMa Theatre (Some Old Black Man), all in New York City. Some Old Black Man was also produced at the Berkshire Playwrights Lab. His play The Drop Off was featured as part of The Classical Theatre of Harlem's Playwrights Playground and their Future Classics Series. You’re Sitting In The Dark and hop tha A have been recent semi-finalists for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference. James is one of the first recipients of the 2015 First Round Fellowship presented by Open Bar Theatricals, and his honours include being selected by the OBIE award-winning ‘48 Hours in Harlem’ Festival, the Paul Robeson Award, and a John Golden Award for Excellence in Playwriting from NYU. He is a proud member of Harlem’s Emerging Black Playwrights Group and a 2014-2015 Dramatists Guild Fellow. Recently, he was awarded The Playwrights Center’s Many Voices Fellowship, and accepted to the 2016 Ars Nova Play Group and The Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program.

About the Director Lydia Parker

Director Lydia Parker is Artistic Director of Over Here Theatre Company which produced ObamAmerica, a festival of new American writing at Theatre503 in 2014 and Our American Cousin at the Finborough Theatre in 2015. Originally from New York, Lydia has written and directed A Better Pronoun (Old Red Lion Theatre), directed Love, Sex and Apps (Bread and Roses Theatre), Rebranding Britain, Witch Hunt, Ice Cream, We Really Should Do Something and Love (all at Southwark Playhouse), A Big Fridge (Hen and Chickens Theatre and the Park Theatre), Something There That's Missing (Theatre503 and Edinburgh Festival), Skinhead (Brockley Jack Studio) and Our Children Will Be Next (Theatre503). She is also an Associate Director of new writing company, Little Pieces of Gold. For three years, Lydia produced The American Actors UK Playreading Festival of New American Work (Tristan Bates Theatre). Before moving to London, Lydia founded an English language theatre in Puerto Rico which produced Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

The Press on Playwright James Anthony Tyler

"A brilliant new play…Encapsulating the cruelty of 21st-century capitalism in one retail outpost, Tyler conveys a gut-level understanding of this world in which more and more is expected for less and less.” Theatermania

"The play is a fiercely comic, provocative, and, at times, harrowing work that explores with great insight the tense socio-economic and racially charged landscape.” Talkin Broadway

"It is going to be my best show of 2017. I cannot imagine how another show is going to be able to top the experience ...This seminal work blew me right out of my skin...Chilling and uncompromising...This play is a working-class anthem that needs to be sung everywhere." New York Theater Guide

“A Harlem copy shop becomes the crucible for surging tensions over race, class, and economic opportunity, offering humane insight into historical forces of vast proportions.” The Village Voice

"A stunning new play...In a superb examination of the intersections between race and socioeconomic class, playwright James Anthony Tyler’s work opens up the internal workings of a customer service job, questioning the validity of a system in which it is impossible for any of the players to win. Tyler crafts nuanced characters supported by sharp dialogue.” Theater Buddy

“Tyler has an exciting new voice in the theatre” Front Row Center

The Press on Dolphins and Sharks

“A fiery and sassy take on the world of work, dead end jobs, race and power.” Paul Ewing, Paul in London

“Effortlessly brutal and heart-breaking.” Jo Greaves, The Spy In The Stalls

“An explosive comedy-drama of office politics and racial tension.” Giverny Masso, The Stage

“An excellent production. Every minute of this performance is enjoyable, electric and thought-provoking.” Emily Pulham, Everything Theatre

“I once read that when viewing theatre you should ask two questions – ‘why this play?’ and ‘why now?’, I don’t think I have ever seen a play on the London Fringe that gives such an immediate and affirmative answer to those questions, as Dolphins and Sharks.” Jo Greaves, The Spy In The Stalls

“A powerful, impactful production which also feels worryingly relevant to contemporary societal issues.” Emily Pulham, Everything Theatre

“An invigorating production…I can’t recommend this play highly enough. Highly provocative, this left people arguing in the bar long past the show ended.” Jo Greaves, The Spy In The Stalls

“An excellent and enthralling play.” Ebony Online

“It is a play of our time.” Jeff Prestridge, Prestridge2

“Funny, fast paced, warm-hearted and ultimately very challenging.” Owen Davies, Plays To See

“It tells an important, very real story of a workplace bubbling with discontent behind the apparent calm of business prioritising profits over everything else.” Keith Mckenna, British Theatre Guide

“A writer who has a lot to say and delivers it [in] equal measures of humour and fire.” Paul Ewing, Paul in London

“Tyler’s writing is spirited.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“James Anthony Tyler’s timely comedy, first shown as part of Finborough’s Vibrant Festival of new writing (2016), neatly brings new arguments to the racism debate.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“Sharpest on the intersection between systemic and identity politics, Tyler's play shows how prejudices and privileges undercut meritocracy. It's stuffed with small, but significant details of culture and class.” Matt Trueman, WhatsOnStage

“Brilliantly written.” Emily Pulham, Everything Theatre

“Funny, provocative dialogue.” Edward Lukes, Once A Week Theatre

“Author James Anthony Tyler creates a brilliant scenario in which the modern wage slaves of Harlem play out, in front of a spell-bound audience, a parable about greed, exploitation, and disunity.” Owen Davies, Plays To See

“One-to-watch African-American playwright, James Anthony Tyler...Tyler has much of worth to say, about social status and economic expectation, about race and racism. Remember the name: we’ll be hearing more from him.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“James Anthony Tyler’s thought provoking and absorbing production.” Ebony Online

“A sharp cast full of well drawn characters that keep you hooked throughout the duration of the piece.” Paul Ewing, Paul in London

“The acting is top draw.” Emily Pulham, Everything Theatre

“The cast is exceptional.” Jo Greaves, The Spy In The Stalls

“Fine cast of actors. From the thieving and annoying Yusuf to the steely uncompromising Xiomara, each actor brings something genuinely unique to their role.” Ebony Online

“Every mannerism, every expression, every single delivery is a tour de force and her energy is phenomenal.” Emily Pulham, Everything Theatre

“Played with wit and depth by Hermeilio Miquel Aquino and Miquel Brown.” Owen Davies, Plays To See

“Ammar Duffus is compelling.” Jo Greaves, The Spy In The Stalls

“Ammar Duffus as young idealistic graduate Yusef walks an excellent line between comedy and empathy.” Emily Pulham, Everything Theatre

“Rachel Handshaw and Ammar Duffus are both superb.” Owen Davies, Plays To See

“Rachel Handshaw as Xiomara gives a wonderful performance.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“Rachel Handshaw as Xiomara and Shyko Amos as Isabel are a funny, quick-witted double act.” Keith Mckenna, British Theatre Guide

“Lovely work from Shyko Amos.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“Shyko Amos, superb.” Matt Trueman, WhatsOnStage

“Amos’ performance is explosive and full with fury, yet she also conveys sarcasm and humour with a subtle shift of her expression.” Giverny Masso, The Stage

“Shyko Amos as Isabel is tremendous.” Emily Pulham, Everything Theatre

“The evening relies on Shyko Ammos and her role of recalcitrant veteran employee – and she is super. A natural comic, Amos makes many lines shine with a character that’s larger than life yet believable.” Edward Lukes, Once A Week Theatre

“Amos’ performance is phenomenal.” Jo Greaves, The Spy In The Stalls

“[Amos] portrayal of the outwardly brunt yet inwardly fragile Isabel was quite mesmerising. From her sexy hip shaking ‘twerking’, uncouth behaviour to her sad admissions of failure, she was both exciting and uncomfortable to watch in the same measure.” Ebony Online

“The performances are excellent.” Theatre and Performance

“Skilful direction of Lydia Parker.” Ebony Online

“Director Lydia Parker does a fine job of bringing five contrasting characters together in a lively, well-paced show.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“Director Lydia Parker does a stunning job of keeping the elements well-balanced and getting top quality performances out of her small cast.” Owen Davies, Plays To See

“Anna Driftmier’s set transforms the Finborough stage into a tired office with impressive attention to detail and a quantity of stationery to rival any branch of Ryman.” Giverny Masso, The Stage

“If you’re familiar with the layout of the Finborough it will have [you] amazed with what designer Anna Driftmier has done to the place.” Paul Ewing, Paul in London

“Wonderfully detailed set.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“Theatre lovers should swim with Dolphins and Sharks.” Jeff Prestridge, Prestridge2

“This is Off West End at its very best – go and see it.” Owen Davies, Plays To See

The Press on Director Lydia Parker

"Over Here Theatre Company has much to say and a bedrock of talent from which to do so compellingly" Time Out on American Dream/Gringo

"This production is filled with a wonderful variety of wit and humour, clever concepts and poignancy" Everything Theatre on Our Children Will Be Next

"These Americans…really succeed in showing us Brits the standards that are achievable at Fringe level. Parker's writing is snappy, fast moving, funny and incisive and the acting is of the highest level.” Theatreworld on American Dream/Gringo

"A bitter-sweet double-bill – an impressive debut for the material, and the company." Jane Hutchinson, WhatsOnStage on American Dream/Gringo

12 - 30 September 2017

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Two hours with one interval of fifteen minutes