by Jacob Marx Rice

29 October - 23 November 2019

The European premiere

★★★★★ Close-Up Culture
★★★★★ UK Theatre Web
★★★★ The Reviews Hub
★★★★ ReviewsGate
★★★★ The Stage
★★★★ Pocketsize Theatre
★★★★ The Crumb

This show contains strobe lighting, haze, and discussion of self-harm, suicide, and mental illness.

“It doesn’t feel like a disease, it feels like... falling in love. Your heart races, and your skin tingles. It’s perfect. At first.”

Steph struggles with chronic depression. Jamie just overachieved himself off the deep end. When they meet in their psychiatrist's office, sparks fly and they stumble unexpectedly into a beautiful relationship. But how do you trust someone else when you are already in a battle with your own brain? 

Last year, 70.9 million prescriptions for antidepressants were dispensed in England alone, while, in the United States, an estimated 15.5 million Americans have taken antidepressant medication for at least five years and over. With dark humour, a beautiful soundtrack and captivating visuals, Chemistry is an intimate, frank and uncompromising examination of the chemicals we take and how they impact our ability to love.

Chemistry has been produced at Hollywood Fringe Festival, Cincinnati Fringe Festival, New York International Fringe Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Alchemical Theatre Laboratory, and now receives its European premiere at the multi-award-winning Finborough Theatre.

Post Show Discussion 30th October

Join us after the performance on Wednesday 30th October for a post show discussion. The event is free to ticketholders for that evening's performance of the play. Director Alex Howarth will lead a post show talk back with Chemistry playwright Jacob Marx Rice and his friend Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of the acclaimed novels Harmless Like You (Authors Club First Novel Award) and Starling Days. Jacob will talk about the play and its genesis in a conversation he had with Rowan, and answer audience questions.


Playwright Jacob Marx Rice’s work has been produced and developed at the Flea Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, the New Ohio Theatre, Atlantic Theatre Stage 2, and others. His play series The Suicidal Comedies – consisting of Chemistry, Coping, and Cracks – has been produced around the United States, and has won the Kennedy Center’s Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award, the Excellence in Playwriting Award and FringeFAVE at the NY Fringe Festival, Producer's Pick at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, and Producer’s Encore Pick at the Hollywood Fringe. Jacob is a 2017 Playwright Observer at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, a member of The Shelter, and studied at New York University on their MFA for Dramatic Writing.


Director Alex Howarth’s production of We Live By the Sea opened the Brits Off Broadway season at 59E59 Theatres in New York 2018, where it was Critic's Pick in The New York Times. It was nominated for a Fringe First and OffWestEnd Awards for Best Ensemble and Best Production, ran at the SoHo Playhouse Off-Broadway, and won Best Theatre, Critics’ Choice, and Peace Foundation Awards and was in the Top Six Shows To See in the Guardian during two seasons at Adelaide Festival. He regularly leads research and development periods for new writing and adapted and directed the world stage premiere of What's Eating Gilbert Grape, working alongside the film's writer, Oscar nominee Peter Hedges. He regularly directs at drama schools including Mountview, Associated Studios, and University of Cumbria. Recent work includes Misterman (New Wimbledon Theatre and Brockley Jack Theatre), Oh! You Pretty Things (Southwark Playhouse), Back to Blackbrick (Arts Theatre), Two Sides (Arcola Theatre) The Red Light (Union Theatre), and Junk (Old Red Lion Theatre). He is the Artistic Director of Patch of Blue, who create devised theatre pieces with live music for festivals and touring. As a writer, his work has toured the UK to great acclaim – most recently, award winning feminist gig play Sirens which was performed in a combination of English and British Sign Language. He has worked extensively with people with disabilities, having created performances with deafblind adults for the charity Sense. Forthcoming productions include Assistant Director on La Traviata at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in January 2020.


Caoimhe Farren | Steph

Trained at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts.
Theatre includes The Ferryman (Gielgud Theatre), V.E. (King’s Head Theatre), Outsiders, Clickbait (The Bunker), Confidence/Supply, Carnivores and Girls and Dolls (Southwark Playhouse), EleXion (Theatre503), Growth (Old Red Lion Theatre), The Commissioners (Company of Angels), Dancing at Lughnasa (Ireland tour), Scenes from an Inquiry and Snow White: The Remix (The Playhouse, Derry), Woman of Troy, Government Inspector, Coram Boy, Philistines, Twelfth Night, Blood Wedding and All’s Well That Ends Well (ALRA).
Television includes Derry Girls and Doctors.

James Mear | Jamie

Trained at Rose Bruford College and the Oxford School of Drama.

Theatre includes Pardoned (The Other Palace), Romeo and Juliet (Stockwell Playhouse), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Brockley Jack Theatre, and Garden Shakespeare), Dates and Measures (Churchill Theatre), and Troilus and Cressida (To The Elephant).

Theatre whilst in training includes City of Angels, Much Ado About Nothing, Blue Stockings, Waiting For Godot and The Beggar’s Opera.


“Thought-provoking and devastating as well as particularly beautiful. This is the best production I have seen all year.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Remarkable for its tender compassion.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“A moving, insightful love story.” Mert Dilek, The Stage

“Painful, but at times very funny.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

"Heartbreaking…an involving, emotionally harrowing two-hander." Ed Whitfield, View From The Cheap Seat

“A good script, immensely strong actors and direction that allows an audience into the character’s psyche is what makes great theatre. Chemistry has all three.” Max Topliss, Pocketsize Theatre

“The production launches the winter season and is everything one expects of this theatre.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“It’s a highly relevant, excellently performed piece.” Addison Waite, The Spy in the Stalls

“From the moment I walked in, to a smoke filled venue, I thought "this could be quality..." It did not disappoint.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“An intimate and honest look into the world of mental health and its preconceptions and misconceptions.” Max Topliss, Pocketsize Theatre

“Chemistry well conveys the tragedy of two people who cannot save each other or themselves.” Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub

“An unflinching and evocative exploration of mental illness, it is still the torrid love story that gives this story its heart.” James Ayles, Broadway World

“Chemistry is a roller coaster of a play that will tug at your emotions.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“There is much warmth to be found in this clear-eyed look at mental illness.” Mert Dilek, The Stage

"An at times unsettling, but always compelling evening." Ed Whitfield, View From The Cheap Seat

“A powerfully performed tale about the doomed love affair between two young New Yorkers who meet in their psychiatrist's waiting room.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“The end is a poignant one (pack a handkerchief or three).” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“It’s both beautiful and poignant. There is love and loathing in equal doses, underpinned by some mighty fine acting and clever, witty writing from the pen of Jacob Marx Rice.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

"The writing , with the imprimatur of lived experience, grips the heart and twists the gut." Ed Whitfield, View From The Cheap Seat

“Rice has written a love story that treats heavy, complex subjects with confidence and compassion.” Mert Dilek, The Stage

“Rice has written some immensely interesting conversations about mental health, and succeeded in portraying depression with authenticity, insight, and unaffected empathy.” Addison Waite, The Spy in the Stalls

“A mighty fine piece of writing…full of wit despite the rather grim subject matter.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“The dialogue is crisp and witty.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“It’s impossible to remain unmoved watching two excellent actors in the sheer hell of mental illness.” David Weir, London Pub Theatres

“Compellingly acted.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

"Performances that add complexity and vulnerability to a couple of likable but shaky lovers." Ed Whitfield, View From The Cheap Seat

“The connection between Jamie and Steph is electrifying.” Amy Mawer, The Crumb

“Pair the two performers together and the chemistry was electrifying. Their love for each other was palpable and tender moments hung in the air as if suspended in time.” Max Topliss, Pocketsize Theatre

“The actors build credible individual characters and entice the audience into their romance and despair.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“It’s beautiful to watch – and brilliantly acted.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Two very good performances.” Addison Waite, The Spy in the Stalls

“They make a delightful, tender odd-couple, testing the bounds of their thoughts and fears as their love grows.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“The performances are remarkable.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“The real stars of Chemistry are Farren and Mear who have a genuine on-stage chemistry. Both are outstanding.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Farren and Mear both give sympathetic, clearly accentuated performances that throb with tender energy.” Mert Dilek, The Stage

“Both actors are superb…soaring and falling apart in the space of a few lines of sharp, tight dialogue.” David Weir, London Pub Theatres

“Move over Meg Ryan, Caoimhe Farren has arrived.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Caoimhe Farren brings admirable genuineness to the depressive Steph.” Addison Waite, The Spy in the Stalls

“Farren…masterfully tackles the intricacies of Steph’s depressive episodes with truth and an individuality appropriate for such a complex and diverse illness.” Max Topliss, Pocketsize Theatre

“Caoimhe Farren is particularly striking, imbuing Stephanie with nuance and vulnerability.” James Ayles, Broadway World

“Farren is superb.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“James Mears handles Jamie's escalating mania with sensitivity and poise.” James Ayles, Broadway World

“Mear exudes love and tenderness.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Mear is brilliant as unipolar manic Jamie. His performance was gut-wrenchingly real and had beautiful moments of guttural pain and frustration which was painful to observe in all the right ways.” Max Topliss, Pocketsize Theatre

“The play, acted out in a haunting mist, is imaginatively directed by Alex Howarth and masterfully produced by Holly Robin.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Alex Howarth has designed and directed a wonderfully sensitive, knowing, adult production.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Very subtle, sexy scenes.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Designed and directed by Alex Howarth with commendable fluidity, Chemistry knows how to work wonders in the constrained space of the Finborough.” Mert Dilek, The Stage

“Carefully paced and lit with considerable care by Rachel Sampley.” Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub

“Rachel Sampley’s stylish lighting turns the dense smoke in the room into an ambient force that alternates between the dreamy and the nightmarish.” Mert Dilek, The Stage

“The set, sound and lighting are almost a third character in this immaculate production.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Rachel Sampley's beautiful and atmospheric lighting design.” Amy Mawer, The Crumb


“Brilliant! A dark and twisted ride down the beautifully winding road that is love.” Discover Hollywood Magazine

“Real, poignant, and funny. Sharply written banter and well-delivered one-liners allow us to access the tragedy unfolding before us.” Chelsea Now

“A darkly comic and often painfully realistic portrait… The most convincing depictions of a journey to suicide I have ever encountered.” Stage Happenings

“Must see! Playwright Jacob Marx Rice’s smart, funny, sad script packs a lot into an hour.” River City News


“Director Alex Howarth does wonders…coming up with a tight imaginative staging.” Critic’s Pick, The New York Times Best Theatre of 2016 The New York Times

“Playful, funny, and deeply moving.” ★★★★ Top Shows to See at Adelaide Festival, The Guardian

“Alex Howarth’s production is so light and tight.” ★★★★ Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“It's rare for theatre to connect in such a way... something very raw and beautiful.” ★★★★★ British Theatre Guide

“Every once in a while a piece of theatre comes along which makes me remember why I have always loved the power of theatre...We Live by the Sea does just that.” Adelaide Theatre Guide

“Built with such skill by director Alex Howarth.” ★★★★ The Scotsman


Tuesday, 29 October - Saturday, 23 November 2019

Tuesday to Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm.
Saturday and Sunday Matinees at 3.00pm.

Performance Length: 1 hour 40 minutes with no interval.

Prices until 10th November 2019

Tickets £18, £16 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats.
Previews (29 and 30 October) £14 all seats.

£10 tickets for Under 30's for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.

£14 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on Saturday, 2 November 2019 when booked online only.

Prices from 12 November 2019

Tickets £20, £18 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £18 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £20 all seats. 

For details of our Returns Policy for sold out performances, please click here



Book Tickets for Chemistry

29 October - 23 November 2019

Please note that if a show is marked as Sold Out, there are no more tickets available. Please do NOT contact the theatre as we have no more tickets left for these shows. Please see our returns and exchanges policy for more information.

Directed by Alex Howarth

Lighting and Video Design by Rachel Sampley

Presented by Sloshed Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.