by Eleanor Burgess

1 October - 26 October 2019

The European premiere of the hit Off-Broadway play

★★★★ The Times
★★★★ Theatre Weekly
★★★★ West End Wilma
★★★★ LondonTheatre1
★★★★ Reviewgate

OffWestEnd Award nomination for Female Performance in a Play - Moronkẹ Akinola

“There is one appropriate way of responding to a woman of color who says, I have an idea to assert, and that is to shut up and listen”

America. 2016. Within the stately office of an elite university two women united by their vision for the future, but divided on how to get there, meet to review a history paper that asks one big question: has America reached the moment for its real, radical, revolution?

When a clash of ideas becomes a complicated discussion about race, the niceties begin to wear thin and one woman is forced to put everything on the line in order to make her case.

As their private dispute explodes into a public war, the devastating consequences of their good intentions are laid bare, as both student and professor ask: Have we left it too late to repair our divided society?

Originally premiered at the Huntington Theatre, Boston, before transferring to Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City, The Niceties marks the European debut of a stunning new American playwright, Eleanor Burgess.

Post Show Discussion 11th October
Join us after the performance on Friday 11th October for a post-show discussion with the playwright Eleanor Burgess and actors Janie Dee and Moronke Akinola as they discuss The Niceties in development and performance. The event will be posted by Shanaé Chisholm and Nicola Watkinson, who have worked as embedded critics on this production of The Niceties. There will also be a chance to put your own questions to the team as they explore the play's complex depiction of race and legacy in the 21st century.

The discussion will commence promptly after the performance at approximately 9:40pm and is expected to last approximately 30 minutes.

About the hosts

Shanaé Chisholm
Shanaé is a recent BA Media and Communications graduate, with a specialism in Creative Writing. Through her blogging, she aims to bring a unique perspective to theatre discourse by representing young, Black, female theatre enthusiasts.

Nicola Watkinson
Nicky is a cultural critic who writes and speaks on a range of arts and culture topics. She is particularly interested in interdisciplinary work and work that tackles questions of form. She has a Master's in contemporary literature and culture from UCL, and her academic research focuses on theories of identity, femininity, grief, the fragment, and translation. She has been writing about theatre and performance since 2015, and was the embedded critic on the Paper Birds' show Ask Me Anything earlier this year.'


Playwright Eleanor Burgess has had work produced at Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre Center, Huntington Theatre Company, the Alliance Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Portland Stage Company, and Centenary Stage, and developed with The New Group, New York Theatre Workshop, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Salt Lake Acting Company, the Lark Play Development Center, and the Kennedy Center/NNPN MFA Playwrights Workshop. She has been a member of Page 73's writers' group Interstate 73 and The Civilians’ R&D Group, and the recipient of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Award, an EST/Sloan commission, a Huntington Playwriting Fellowship, a Keen Teens Commission, and the Susan Glaspell Award for Women Playwrights. She grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, studied history at Yale College, and recently completed the M.F.A in Dramatic Writing at NYU/Tisch.


Director Matthew Iliffe returns to the Finborough Theatre following his acclaimed production of Lionel Bart and Alun Owen’s musical Maggie May this spring, and Colleen Murphy’s new play Geography of Fire/La Furie et sa Géographie as part of Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. Direction includes the European premiere of The Burnt Part Boys which was nominated for the OffWestEnd Award for Best Director and Best Musical Production (Park Theatre), Side By Side By Sondheim (The Piano Bar, Bristol Hippodrome), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Landor Theatre), Precious Little Talent (The Albany), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Alma Tavern Theatre, Bristol) and The Way Things Weren't (The Room Above, Bristol). Assistant Direction includes Brass (National Youth Music Theatre at the Hackney Empire) and Romeo and Juliet (Eastville Park, Bristol). Matthew graduated from the University of Bristol with a first class honours degree in Theatre and Performance Studies, and trained on the StoneCrabs Young Directors Programme, in association with The Albany.


Moronkẹ Akinola | Zoe

Trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Theatre whilst training includes The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Wonder Boy, The Dissociation of Shirley Mason, The Railway Children, The Mill on the Floss, 19th Floor, The Flora Sandes, Beowulf, Philistines, A View from the Bridge, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Importance of Being Earnest, Twelfth Night and Lungs. This is Moronkẹ’s professional stage debut.

Janie Dee | Janine

Theatre includes Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Ustinov Studio, Bath), Passion (Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte), Follies, Women of Troy, Johnny on a Spot, Carousel for which she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical (National Theatre), Moonlight, Night School (Harold Pinter Theatre), Monogamy (Park Theatre), Linda (Manhattan Theatre Club), Hand to God (Vaudeville Theatre), The Seagull, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet (Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park), Ah, Wilderness! (The Young Vic), 84 Charing Cross Road (Salisbury Playhouse), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare's Globe International Tour), Blithe Spirit (Gielgud Theatre), Putting it Together (St. James Theatre), Hello Dolly!, The King and I (The Curve, Leicester), NSFW (Royal Court Theatre), Noises Off (The Old Vic and Novello Theatre), All’s Well That Ends Well (Shakespeare's Globe), Private Lives (Nottingham Playhouse), The Little Hut (National Tour), Calendar Girls (Noël Coward Theatre), Woman in Mind (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough), Shadowlands (Wyndham's Theatre), Mack and Mabel (Criterion Theatre and National Tour), Donkey’s Years (Comedy Theatre), Celebration, Old Times (Gate Theatre, Dublin), The Apple Cart, Old Times, Much Ado About Nothing, Design for Living (Theatre Royal Bath), Betrayal (Duchess Theatre and Theatre Royal Bath), Diva at the Donmar (Donmar Warehouse), A Month in the Country, Three Sisters (Chichester Festival Theatre), My One and Only (Piccadilly Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre), Paradise Moscow (Opera North), Comic Potential for she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Play (Lyric Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club) and The Shakespeare Revue (Royal Shakespeare Company).
Film includes Official Secrets, Dare to be Wild, Me and Orson Welles, The Trouble with Dot and Harry, The Driving Seat and Celebration.
Television includes Chimerica, Crashing, Harold Pinter: A Celebration, The Murder Room, Death in Holy Orders, Midsomer Murders, House of Cards, Heartbeat and London’s Burning.


“Kudos to the dauntless ambition of Matthew Iliffe’s chamber production, which grapples with the material in considerable style.” The Times

“The vim and vigour of Matthew Iliffe’s production.” The Guardian

“Director Matthew Iliffe and his strong cast have put it on the tiny Finborough stage in fine style.” Reviewsgate

“A thrilling production that fills its small space impressively… Director Matthew Iliffe ensures every aspect of the show is a rediscovered joy” The Reviews Hub

“The thrill of Iliffe’s production is that it brings this teaming world to vivid life on a tiny pocket studio stage.”

“Hugely impressive” The Upcoming

“Matthew Iliffe’s inventive production… a terrific night out” Illusions Media


“You’ll argue all night.” Clive Davis, The Times

“Go, think, argue afterwards – it is a stimulating work.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“The Niceties positively excels.” Greg Stewart, Theatre Weekly

“Surely deserves a transfer to a bigger stage.” Clive Davis, The Times

“It’s refreshing to see a genuine play of ideas.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“A battle you do not stop watching.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“A play of our time.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“If one test of a good play is the way it engages its audience long after they leave the theatre, then this one succeeded.” Keith McKenna, British Theatre Guide

“The Niceties is a fascinating study of human behaviour that doesn’t give us any easy answers.” Greg Stewart, Theatre Weekly

“Diamond-sharp dissections of arguments around academic neglect of minority voices, the burden of history, and how those with power need to give it up.” Holly Williams, Time Out

“Brave and thought-provoking.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“It is a play of ideas, a play that will make audiences argue afterwards.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Fretfully provocative and painfully relevant, and it gives us a whole lot to think about.” Miriam Sallon, The Spy in the Stalls

“It is a very interesting, engaging and challenging piece of work.” Emma Heath, West End Wilma

“Stirring stuff in which you see both points of view.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Go see it if you value a verbal punch up.” Loretta Manaco, LondonTheatre1

“A splendidly provocative and fierce play which should set people arguing about whose side they are on and about the issues it raises.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“The Niceties brings certain necessary and urgent conversations to the table.” Miriam Sallon, The Spy in the Stalls

“A fierce debate that covers race, revolution, American history and academic process.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Burgess’s writing is superbly razor sharp.” Greg Stewart, Theatre Weekly

“Eleanor Burgess’ play…challenges perceived truths about America’s past, going right back to the Revolution.” Stephen Bates, The Reviews Hub

“The writer, Eleanor Burgess, has done a superb job with this play.” Emma Heath, West End Wilma

“It’s a testament to Burgess’s skill that she gives you reasons to admire and dislike both of its protagonists.” Clive Davis, The Times

“Eleanor Burgess’s blistering two-hander.” Jessie Thompson, Evening Standard

“Eleanor Burgess’s compelling two-hander about race and American history acts as a kind of Rorschach test: what you see in it may well depend on your politics.” Clive Davis, The Times

“Brilliantly written play.” Loretta Manaco, LondonTheatre1

“The Niceties is played out as a treatise of American democracy on trial, it is so well written and its arguments so well formulated, you will leave the theatre questioning your own politics, as well as whose side you were on during this academic debate.” Loretta Manaco, LondonTheatre1

“The battle is real and Burgess takes no sides.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Akinola and Dee are both excellent.” Stephen Bates, The Reviews Hub

“Akinola makes Zoe a confident and intriguing character.” Greg Stewart, Theatre Weekly

“It’s a piece that depends on its actors, and Janie Dee and Moronkẹ Akinola are both excellent.” Jessie Thompson, Evening Standard

“Zoe is a challenging part and Akinola is extremely assured in the role.” Emma Heath, West End Wilma

“Moronkẹ Akinola, in her professional debut, captures Zoe’s uncompromising rigour and activist spirit.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Moronkẹ Akinola…An impressively controlled and confident debut.” Holly Williams, Time Out

“Akinola makes a confident debut.” Paul Vale, The Stage

“Moronkẹ Akinola gives a captivating performance.” Greg Stewart, Theatre Weekly

“Akinola is quite a force on stage…her commitment to the role is tremendous.” Miriam Sallon, The Spy in the Stalls

“Moronkẹ Akinola makes her professional debut as Zoe and she is superb.” Emma Heath, West End Wilma

“Newcomer Moronkẹ Akinola delivers a bold performance.” Clive Davis, The Times

“Akinola conjures up an exasperating, difficult conflicted woman beautifully.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Janie Dee’s talent shines through here.” Greg Stewart, Theatre Weekly

“Janie Dee as Janine is excellent.” Emma Heath, West End Wilma

“Matthew Iliffe’s production maintains its grip.” Clive Davis, The Times


“It’s the imaginative way that the audience is taken on this journey by director Matthew Iliffe that makes this show truly special.” Musical Theatre Review

“A forward-thinking and meticulous director.” A Younger Theatre  

“This unusual musical is gripping and its staging imaginative… Expertly sung and staged.” The Stage

“Powerfully told and imaginatively staged.” Stage Review

“One of the finest examples of Off West End musical theatre... The show under Matthew Iliffe's direction, is also staged perfectly.” Jonathan Baz

“Staged with heart and craft... one of the best new shows in town.” Mark Shenton


“Blisteringly smart, searing and revealing!” The Boston Globe

"An articulate, expression of #blacklivesmatter anger as well as a millennial rebel yell." The Arts Fuse
“The Niceties is a bristling, provocative debate play.” The New York Times

“Crackles and spark with friction. Burgess’ characters are drawn with precision and her dialogue is expertly crafted to keep both the tension and attention high” New York Theatre Guide

The world premiere of The Niceties was co-produced in the 2018-2019 season by the Huntington Theatre Company (Peter DuBois, Artistic Director  Michael Maso, Managing Director), Boston, MA; Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director Barry Grove, Executive Producer), New York, NY; and McCarter Theatre Center (Emily Mann, Artistic Director/Resident Playwright  Michael S. Rosenberg, Managing Director), Princeton, NJ.
Originally developed at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in July 2017, under the leadership of Ed Herendeen, Producing Director, and Peggy McKowen, Associate Producing Director.
Developed in part at PORTLAND STAGE COMPANY, Anita Stewart, Executive and Artistic Director.


Tuesday, 1 October – Saturday, 26 October 2019

Monday to Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm.
Wednesday and Saturday Matinees at 3.00pm.
Thursday matinees on 3 October and 24 October at 3.00pm.

No performances on Sundays, and on Friday 4 October, Saturday, 5 October and Friday, 25 October.

Performance Length: Approximately 2 hours including one interval of fifteen minutes.


Prices until 13 October 2019

Tickets £18, £16 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats.
Previews (1 and 2 October) £14 all seats.

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

No performances on Sundays, and on Friday 4 October, Saturday, 5 October and Friday, 25 October.

Prices from 15-20 October 2019

Tickets £20, £18 concessions

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

Prices from 22-26 October 2019

Tickets £25, £20 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £20 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £25 all seats. 

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



Book Tickets for The Niceties

Tuesday, 1 October – Saturday, 26 October 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 Matthew Iliffe

Set and Costume Design by Rachel Stone

Lighting Design by Lucía Sánchez Roldán

Sound Design by Kate Marlais

Presented by Giles Chiplin Productions and 23 Productions Ltd. in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.