Beast On The Moon

by Richard Kalinoski

29 January - 23 February 2019

“So some are beheaded and some are crucified and some are slaughtered, and who wins the battle of who died the worst death? Who wins?”

The first London production in more than 20 years

★★★★★ The Spy in the Stalls
★★★★ Evening Standard
★★★★ The Reviews Hub
★★★★ Close-up Culture
★★★★ Reviews Gate
★★★★ Jewish Renaissance
★★★★ The Arts Desk

OffWestEnd Award nomination for Female Performance in a Play: Zarima McDermott

In a production commissioned by the Finborough Theatre, Richard Kalinoski’s Beast on the Moon opens at the Finborough Theatre for a four-week limited season on Tuesday, 29 January 2019 (Press Nights: Thursday, 31 January and Friday, 1 February 2019 at 7.30pm).Milwaukee in the 1920s. Aram believes he will begin a new life when his teenage ‘mail-order’ bride, Seta, arrives to join him.

They are a couple united by history – both survivors of the Armenian Genocide. But their painful, shared experience does nothing to promote domestic harmony as Aram is obsessed with creating a family to replace the one he lost in such savage circumstances, and Seta, just fifteen and trapped by the traditions of the old ways, struggles to embrace her new life in a new country…

Richard Kalinoski’s beautifully written, universal story of hope and healing, has been performed in more than twenty countries. Last performed in London in the 1990s, Beast on the Moon remains a play for our times – a powerful exploration of legacy for so many refugees.

The Armenian Genocide of 1915-16 was perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish Government against the Armenians, a Christian minority in a Muslim state. Up to one and a half million people died. To this day, the Turkish government refuses to admit that genocide ever took place.

About Playwright Richard Kalinoski

Playwright Richard Kalinoski’s Beast on the Moon, won the 2001 Best Play from the Repertory prize at the Moliere Awards and four other Moliere Awards. Since emerging as a “triumph” (Ben Brantley, The New York Times) at the 1995 Humana Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, Beast on the Moon has been translated into twenty languages and produced in venues all over the world including Athens, Brussels, London, Moscow, New York (Off-Broadway), Prague, Sao Paolo, Toronto and Tallinn, Estonia. It has garnered a host of awards including the Osborn Best New Play in America by an Emerging Playwright, awarded by the American Theatre Critics Association in 1996, and, in 2001, five Ace Awards including Best Play in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2005, the President of Armenia Robert Kachadarian awarded Kalinoski the Khorenatsi Medal for Contribution to the Arts from the Country of Armenia.

His other plays include Between Men and Cattle developed at the National Playwrights Conference (1995) and later produced at the Detroit Repertory Theatre and at Milwaukee’s Next Act Theatre (2004), My Soldiers, a play about a female soldier returning from Iraq which was produced at the Detroit Repertory Theatre (2010) and was featured at the Regional American College Theatre Festival of the Kennedy Center at Michigan State University (2011), The Boy Inside which earned Second Place in the Kennedy Center’s Mark David Cohen National Playwriting Contest (2016) and Front Room (2018) which was named as one of only eighteen new plays to be audio produced by the Ashland New Plays Festival in Ashland, Oregon, the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Wisconsin native Richard Kalinoski is Resident Playwright at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in Northeastern Wisconsin where he teaches playwriting and theatre history.

About Director Jelena Budimir

Director Jelena Budimir returns to the Finborough Theatre following her acclaimed production of Bruce Graham’s White Guy on the Bus which was nominated for four Off West End Awards including Best Director in 2018. She also directed Athena Stevens’ new play Genie for Vibrant 2017 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. Recently, she also devised and directed Back to the Future – a Celebration of Education with members of Clean Break Theatre. Jelena was Associate Director at Chickenshed Theatre for 22 years where she developed the Studio Theatre, and led on Chickenshed’s emerging writers’ programme Write Here, Write Now. Direction includes Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee Boy adapted by Lemn Sissay, Sarah Daniels’ Gut Girls, The Comedy of Errors, Dario Fo’s Can't Pay! Won't Pay!, Lysistrata, Our Country's Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker, Yard Gal by Rebecca Prichard and Ariel Dorfmen’s Widows (Chickenshed) and Life After Death by Antuneil Thompson (Camden People’s Theatre). She has also written extensively for young people and children. Jelena originally trained as an actor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama – her performance work includes fringe, rep and West End alongside film, TV and radio.

The Press on Beast on the Moon at the Finborough

★★★★★ The Spy in the Stalls
★★★★ Evening Standard
★★★★ The Reviews Hub
★★★★ Close-up Culture
★★★★ Reviews Gate
★★★★ Jewish Renaissance
★★★★ The Arts Desk

“The Finborough, one of the tiny jewels in London’s theatrical crown, is especially skilled in the field of timely revivals, with its astute selections of unjustly neglected gems from the 20th century. Beast on the Moon is just such a play.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“In the week that Neil McPherson, the Finborough artistic director, got the Critics’ Circle prize for contributions to theatre for the work done at this 50 seat Earls Court theatre it has come up with a fine play superbly staged, directed and performed – Beast on the Moon.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“For all the offstage horror, Beast on the Moon comes laced with charm: a touching and eminently watchable drama.” Tim Conwell, The Arts Desk

“A moving play about coming to terms with shocking family loss.” J2 Close-Up Culture

“Profound and moving but it is laced with humour and its message is uplifting.” Richard Braine, London Pub Theatre

“Its relevance to the plight of refugees in the modern world is striking.” Stephen Bates, The Review Hub

“The word unmissable gets used loosely, but this really should be in any serious theatre goer’s diary.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Thought-provoking, disturbing, shocking and rewarding.” J2, Close-Up Culture

“A powerful exploration of family, memory and legacy.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“A profound and well-articulated play that speaks to the power of meaningful individual stories told with commitment and bravery.” William Nash, The Spy in the Stalls

“Deeply touching.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“What [it] demonstrates so movingly is Seta putting down roots and blossoming in a place that welcomes hard-working immigrants of all nationalities. If that doesn’t have something to say to us today, I don’t know what does.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“From this illuminating production, it’s not surprising that this moving, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes even funny play has been translated into many different languages and constantly revived worldwide since Kalinoski wrote it more than 20 years ago.” Judi Herman, Jewish Renaissance

“The acting from all concerned is exemplary.” Richard Braine, London Pub Theatre

“All three actors give tremendously thoughtful and committed performances throughout the evening as they skillfully incorporate the shifts in age and innocence the characters undergo.” William Nash, The Spy in the Stalls

“Zarima McDermott is highly impressive as Seta, mixing sparkiness and anxiety in just the right proportion.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“The cast is quite brilliant with McDermott’s transformation from cowering child to a self-confident young woman extraordinary.” J2 Close-Up Culture

“Zarima McDermott’s remarkable portrayal.” Stephen Bates, The Review Hub

“McDermott is appealingly sparky and changeable as Seta.” Alice Saville, Time Out

“Magnificently portrayed by McDermott.” J2 Close-Up Culture

“A sparkling lead performance from Zarima McDermott, an actress about whom we are surely destined to hear considerably more.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“Zarima McDermott’s luminous, resourceful Seta.” Judi Herman, Jewish Renaissance

“Zarima McDermott’s portrayal of the main character, Seta, is particularly enchanting.” Karelia Scott-Daniels, UK Theatre Network

“George Jovanovic makes a convincingly conflicted Aram.” Dave Fergnoli, The Stage

“A beautifully judged performance by George Jovanovic.” Stephen Bates, The Review Hub

“Jovanovic portrays Aram with a perfect mix of zeal, machismo, chauvinism and kindness.” J2 Close-Up Culture

“Hayward B Morse is accomplished.” J2, Close-Up Culture

“Hayward B Morse…is spellbinding.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Hayward B Morse provides an excellent anchor as the elderly narrator and amuses as a 12-year-old orphan boy.” Tim Conwell, The Arts Desk

“In her sensitive production director Jelena Budimir is blessed with an extraordinary pair of lead actors.” Judi Herman, Jewish Renaissance

“Jelena Budimir’s powerful production…is a joy to behold with strong performances from each of the cast.” Karelia Scott-Daniels, UK Theatre Network

“It's an important reminder of a time when America may have been poorer but was a lot more welcoming than the one we see today.” Keith Mckenna, British Theatre Guide

“Brought to life by fine storytelling and full-blooded characters, beautifully framed by Sarah Jane Booth’s warmly coloured screens.” Judi Herman, Jewish Renaissance

The Press on "Beast on the Moon"

“Humane, funny and touching, Beast on the Moon presents the claims of both past and future with fairness and empathy.” Paul Taylor, The Independent

“Beast on the Moon builds with such tension and heartbreak, celebrates the gift of life with such wisdom and power, that an audience simply has no recourse but to shout its joy and gratitude...You can’t afford to miss it.” William Mootz, Louisville Courier Journal

“The play has garnered worldwide acclaim. New York was long overdue… simply magnificent.” Harry Forbes, BackStage

“This is a deep and moving piece that educates while it entertains.” Christopher Kidder-Mostrom, Newcity Stage

“Compassionate and humane” The New Yorker

“One of five must-see plays in New York...The play moves from tragedy and turmoil to a profound sense of promise.” Howard Kissel, The New York Daily News

The Press on Jelena Budimir's White Guy on the Bus at the Finborough

“Jelena Budimir’s lean, swift production is very well acted… It’s a play that provokes thought while keeping you entertained.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Philadelphia-based Graham deftly crystallises the characters’ surface-deep prejudices and privileges, asking big questions about power and race. It’s politically charged and exhilarating.” ★★★★ Fergus Morgan, The Stage

“Thought-provoking, surprisingly unpreachy and will live in the mind long after other plays have faded.” ★★★★  Gary Naylor, Broadway World UK

29 January - 23 February 2019

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm (from 9 February 2019)
Sunday 3:00pm

Approximately two hours with one interval of fifteen minutes