On The High Road

An intoxicating explosion of movement, music and light.

A disparate group of people find themselves caught in a terrible storm on the High Road. Whether old or young, pilgrim or party-goer, they must all seek refuge under the same roof. As the night draws in, they dream, pray, dance, party and fight – waiting for the dawn to come.

Directed by Suzy Willson, a company of dancers, actors and singers warp time and perspective to create an epic moving sculpture. We watch human beings as if under a microscope, attempt to share space within their homes, cities, states and continents.

Paul Clark’s original score counterpoints wind howls, downpours and thunderclaps with the brilliance of the human voice. Twisted classical textures stumble into drunken bar-room pianos, and mournful songs build to pulsating clubby rhythms. Featuring award-winning Irish folk singer Thomas McCarthy, acclaimed soprano Melanie Pappenheim and cult-cabaret icon George Heyworth.

The stark monochrome design, kaleidoscopic movement and exhilarating music conjures a feverish end of epoch atmosphere. At once dance, theatre and gig – On The High Road’s turbulent blend of movement and music defies categorisation.


Direction: Suzy Willson
Music: Paul Clark
Lighting: Hansjörg Schmidt
Design: Sarah Blenkinsop

Dramaturgical Consultant: Stephen Brown
Madame Woo Text: Peggy Shaw
Rehearsal Director: Claire Cunningham

Performed by Christopher Akrill, Ellen Yilma, George Heyworth, Ihsaan de Banya, Makiko Aoyama, Melanie Pappenheim, Rachele Rapisardi, Ramona Nagabczyńska-de Barbaro, Thomas McCarthy, Tiffany Desplanques, Yen-Ching Lin and Zoë Bywater

Photography: Daniele Fummo
Production photography: Hugo Glendinning
Video: Lisa Cazzato Vieyra

Production Manager: Mat Ort
Company Stage Manager: Naomi Colette Harvey
Sound Engineer: Rob Donnelly-Jackson
Deputy Sound Engineer: Mike Winship
Wardrobe Supervisor: Beth Bilcliffe

Thank you to all the people involved in the development of this piece: Angela Wynter, Atsuko Kamura, David Cumming, Elaine Mitchener, Elin Morgan, Ellen Slatkin, Emma Gladstone, George Siena, Huw Morgan, Ian Garside, Ino Riga, Ishimwa, Jason Thorpe, Jayson Gray, John Paul Gandy, Kate Lane, Karima El Amrani, King San Lo, Laura McDermott, Nicolas Ricchini, Peter Groom, Phil Minton, Sally McKenna, Sam Coren, Sara Augieras, Saskia Godwin, Simone Stewart, Tania Harrison, Taylor Han, Xinxin Song, Stuart Heyes; Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Barbican Centre, Dance Umbrella, Islington Arts Factory, Latitude Festival, Rose Lipman and Theatre Peckham.

Performed at

London. Southbank Centre. 24 & 25 April 2019.
Doncaster. Cast. 8 May 2019.
Portsmouth. New Theatre Royal. 15 & 16 May 2019.
Oxford. Oxford Playhouse. 20 & 21 May 2019.


“Dizzying, transfixing – some kind of genius… I often found myself doubting if the choreography was humanly possible. They are insects; they are fluid; they are animal.”
British Theatre Guide

“[On The High Road] is as interested in how individual muscles flex, bodies move and relationships form as it is with the wider picture of choreographed group behaviour.”

“Truly stunning scenes emerge, with actors transforming into a single, liquid-like form, floating up and down the uneasy stage setting.”
Oxford Mail

“Beautiful to listen to and mesmerising to watch.”
Oxford Daily Info