White Guy on the Bus

by Bruce Graham

27 March - 21 April 2018

"Do you want that money to get your son to a nice safe neighbourhood, or are you going to make some noble, moral stand which means absolutely nothing?"

The European premiere

White Guy On The Bus is now completely sold out for the entire run.

In a production commissioned by the Finborough Theatre, the European premiere of American playwright Bruce Graham’s White Guy on the Bus.

Ray and Roz are a white, liberal couple living in the safe, staid suburbs of Philadelphia. He is a financial consultant who makes “rich people richer”. She is a passionate teacher who commutes every day to educate the mainly black students of an inner-city school. On the face of it, life runs smoothly. But Ray seems to hanker after change. He leaves his Mercedes in the drive, and takes to riding the public bus through the African-American neighbourhoods of the city – the only white guy on the bus.  Ray becomes a regular on the same route as Shatique – a young, black single mother who is studying to become a nurse, and determined to make a different life for her 9-year-old son. They strike up a relationship. But what does Ray really want from Shatique?

Bruce Graham’s excoriating and shocking play blows open the racial fault-lines of Trump’s America. With an all too familiar resonance here in the UK, it questions us all – what deals are we willing to make, and with which devils?

White Guy on the Bus, a Critics’ Pick in The New York Times for its New York City production, is a European premiere from award-winning American playwright Bruce Graham. It is directed by Jelena Budimir, a former Associate Director at Chickenshed Theatre.


The run will be accompanied by the FINBOROUGHFORUM- a series of informal post-show discussions and debates. All events are free to ticketholders for that evening’s performance of the play. The events will feature a Q&A sessions, discussions with academics and industry professionals and members of the cast and company.


Wednesday 11 April

Hosted by Ash Driver, a member of the Artistic staff at Chickenshed Theatre, one of the UK’s leading inclusive theatres.

Ash is an actor, teacher, writer and director.

About the Playwright Bruce Graham

Playwright Bruce Graham plays include Burkie, Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar and Grille, Moon Over the Brewery, Minor Demons, Belmont Avenue Social Club, The Champagne Charlie Stakes, Desperate Affection, Coyote on a Fence (winner of The Rosenthal Prize and seen at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, and in the West End), According to Goldman, Something Intangible (winner of seven Barrymore Awards including Best New Play), Any Given Monday (Barrymore winner for Best New Play), The Outgoing Tide (Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play), Stella and Lou, North of the Boulevard, Rizzo and Funnyman. Fully Accessible and The Happy F!@#$%G Blind Guy have been published in Best Ten Minute Plays of 2013 and 2014. His one man show The Philly Fan plays semi-continuously throughout the Philadelphia area. He has received grants from the Pew Foundation, the Princess Grace Foundation (Statuette Award Winner), the Rockefeller Foundation and the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative. Along with Michele Volansky, he is the author of the book, The Collaborative Playwright. Graham is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He teaches film and theatre courses at Drexel University, and also works as an actor. He divides his time between South Philly and Elkton, Maryland.

About the Director Jelena Budimir

Director Jelena Budimir returns to the Finborough Theatre after directing Athena Stevens’ new play Genie for Vibrant 2017 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. 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’ The 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 worked on projects with Clean Break Theatre Company and Hampstead Theatre, and was a member of the Crescent Theatre Ensemble. 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 White Guy on the Bus

“The show will encourage viewers to have essential conversations about the disparity that exists between people of different races and economic backgrounds... White Guy on the Bus is drama at its finest.” Broadway World

“This is decidedly not a feel-good play about mutually beneficial bonds formed across the racial and economic divides.  Mr Graham, with the work’s stark conclusion, leaves you feeling like a simplistic ninny for ever thinking it might have been.”  New York Times, Critic’s Pick.

“I'll say this for Bruce Graham's White Guy on the Bus it is a play with guts…. this unusually frank drama has been gnawing away at me these last 24 hours.” Chicago Tribune

“This is a very cleverly written play drawing the audience in slowly, then binding us in an intense, unrelenting bombardment of truth." Theatre Pizzazz

“White Guy on the Bus offers a thought-provoking examination of current race relations in America. Graham’s writing is imaginative and compelling, and the plot adeptly blends a coherent structure with intrigue and surprise.” Plays to See

“A searing piece of theatre as insightful as it is brutal.” Harry True, The Spy in the Stalls

“Bruce Graham's play illuminates [America's ongoing tragedy of race relations] in fresh and dramatically engrossing ways.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatreguide.London

“A four star thriller that surprises.” William Russell, ReviewsGate

“Riveting viewing.” Jeff Prestridge, CloseUp Culture

“Whoever White Guy On The Bus plays to, it will bite.” Frey Kwa Hawking, Exeunt Magazine

“Vibrant and dynamic.” Daniel Amir, The Upcoming

“A well told tale with a moral to ponder long after the audience wanders off into the night.” Alan Fitter, LondonTheatre1

“This European première of prizewinning dramatist Bruce Graham’s play couldn’t be more topical.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Pungent, abrasive piece.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Politically charged and exhilarating.” Fergus Morgan, The Stage

“Bruce Graham's spiky, uncomfortable, bold play.” Gary Naylor, Broadway World

“Bruce Graham’s play could hardly be more timely.” Neil Norman, Daily Express

“As relevant as it is ruthless.” Harry True, The Spy in the Stalls

“Addresses what it is to be white and black in America in startling new ways.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatreguide.London

“A terrific and topical thriller.” William Russell, ReviewsGate

“A powerful tale.” Jeff Prestridge, CloseUp Culture

“Full of surprises.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“It makes for surprising theatre.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Thoughtprovoking, surprisingly unpreachy and will live in the mind long after other plays have faded.” Gary Naylor, Broadway World

“Sharply entertaining.” Neil Norman, Daily Express

“A stunningly topical thriller.” William Russell, ReviewsGate

“Must see theatre.” Jeff Prestridge, CloseUp Culture

“Bruce Graham’s dynamic and shocking play.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Keeps you in suspense.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“A thriller which thrills and makes you want to join in the arguments.” William Russell, ReviewsGate

“A graphic picture of the segregation of expectation in today’s America, it has plenty of resonance for our own unequal society too.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“A play that provokes thought while keeping you entertained.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Graham pulls off a startling and effective coup de theatre.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatreguide.London

“Wonderful lines from the pen of Graham.” Jeff Prestridge, CloseUp Culture

“Graham puts on trial those who endlessly extol the virtues of ‘diversity’ yet have no stake in changing things.” Frey Kwa Hawking, Exeunt Magazine

“Graham deftly crystallises the characters’ surfacedeep prejudices and privileges, asking big questions about power and race.” Fergus Morgan, The Stage

“Graham’s storytelling is admirably lucid.” Alex Ramon, The Reviews Hub

“The performances are excellent.” Alan Fitter, LondonTheatre1

“A strong cast.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Strong performances.” Alex Ramon, The Reviews Hub

“A strong cast led by Donald Sage Mackay and Joanna McGibbon.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatreguide.London

“Superb performances as well, from American screen actor Donald Sage Mackay and from Joanna McGibbon.” Fergus Morgan, The Stage

“Donald Sage Mackay nimbly handles Ray’s transition from a decent, apparently understanding figure into something altogether more horrifying.” Harry True, The Spy in the Stalls

“Standout performance from Mackay.” Daniel Amir, The Upcoming

“Joanna McGibbon’s Shatique is superb.” Neil Norman, Daily Express

“Superb performance from Joanna McGibbon.” Alan Fitter, LondonTheatre1

“Joanna McGibbon as Shatique – superbly controlled, bright and shaded.” Holly Williams, Time Out

“Joanna McGibbon is subtle and searing.” Alex Ramon, The Reviews Hub

“A pitchperfect performance by Joanna McGibbon.” Gary Naylor, Broadway World

“Joanna McGibbon perfectly captures her sympathy and strength.” Harry True, The Spy in the Stalls

“Marina Bye’s naive Molly and Carl Stone’s Christopher complete a terrific cast.” Neil Norman, Daily Express

“A magnificent Samantha Coughlan.” Jeff Prestridge, CloseUp Culture

“Samantha Coughlan plays Roz wonderfully.” Frey Kwa Hawking, Exeunt Magazine

“Samantha Coughlan as Ros is affectingly intense, and bounces off Donald Sage Mackay’s genial and somehow slightly lost Ray.” Katherine Waters, The Arts Desk

“Samantha Coughlan. Ballsy, sassy and utterly convincing. Her performance alone is worth the ticket price.” Jeff Prestridge, CloseUp Culture

“Samantha Coughlan is excellently brisk.” Holly Williams, Time Out

“Samantha Coughlan brings a striking, vivid quality to her role.” Alex Ramon, The Reviews Hub

“Intelligently directed by Jelena Budimir.” Jeff Prestridge, CloseUp Culture

“Jelena Budimir’s lean, swift production is very well acted.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Budimir’s production makes for an involving, gripping evening.” Alex Ramon, The Reviews Hub

“Hats off to Sarah Jane Booth for the simple but effective set design.” Jeff Prestridge, CloseUp Culture

“One more example (among many over the years) of this tiny above a pub theatre introducing London to a play of quality and importance the richer and more subsidised venues should have been finding.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatreguide.London

“Another notch on the Finborough’s wellworn belt.” Frey Kwa Hawking, Exeunt Magazine

“The Finborough programmes rediscoveries of forgotten 20th century writers along with UK premieres of successful American plays. This policy has borne fruit yet again.” Fergus Morgan, The Stage

“Another success story for Finborough Theatre.” Jeff Prestridge, CloseUp Culture

The Press on Jelena Budimir

“This is an unmissable performance addressing the sheer horror of the refugee crisis… carefully and brilliantly directed by Jelena Budimir.” London Theatre 1 on Refugee Boy

“A colourful, vibrant production that achieves the feat of making a Shakespeare comedy genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.” The Stage on The Comedy of Errors

“Under Jelena Budimir's ultra-tight direction…actors typical of Chickenshed's inclusive approach to casting hurtle around the stage to the delight of an audience.” Broadway World on Can’t Pay! Won’t Pay!

27 March - 21 April 2018

Tickets and Times

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

2hrs with one interval