People, Places and Things Returns to London’s West End

“People, Places and Things” is making a triumphant return to London’s West End at Trafalgar Theatre, running until August 10, 2024. This gripping production has garnered widespread acclaim since its world premiere at the National Theatre’s Dorfman Theatre in 2015. It’s a powerful piece that continues to captivate audiences, and its return is highly anticipated.

Where and When?

Show Details

“People, Places and Things” is currently playing at Trafalgar Theatre, a venue that promises an intimate yet impactful theatrical experience. The show runs approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes, including a 20-minute interval. It’s recommended for audiences aged 14 and up, given its mature themes.

Performance History

The show first premiered at the National Theatre’s Dorfman Theatre in September 2015, in a co-production with Headlong. Its success led to a transfer to Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End in March 2016. The production then crossed the Atlantic to New York’s St. Ann’s Warehouse in October 2017, receiving critical acclaim at each venue.

Who’s in the Cast?

Lead Role

Denise Gough reprises her Olivier Award-winning role as Emma, a struggling actress grappling with addiction and personal turmoil. Her performance has been lauded as transformative and deeply moving.

Supporting Cast

  • Sinéad Cusack: Known for “V for Vendetta” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” she takes on the roles of Doctor, Therapist, and Mum.
  • Malachi Kirby: Recognized for “Small Axe: Mangrove” and the upcoming “Anansi Boys,” he plays Mark.
  • Danny Kirrane: With credits in “The Sandman” and “The Serpent Queen,” he portrays Foster.
  • Kevin McMonagle: Known for “Scoop” and “Best of Enemies,” he plays Dad/Paul.

Additional Cast Members

  • Holly Atkins: Seen in “This Country” and “Sons of the Prophet,” plays Charlotte.
  • Paksie Vernon: From “Shetland” and “Angels in America: Part One,” takes on the role of Jodi.
  • Ryan Hutton: With roles in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Only Fools and Horses,” plays Shaun.
  • Ayọ̀ Owóyẹmi-Peters: Making her West End debut as Laura.
  • Dillon Scott-Lewis: Known for “Piglets” and “&Juliet,” plays T.
  • Russell Anthony: From “Call the Midwife” and “Trouble in Butetown,” and Louise Templeton: Known for “Jayson Bend: Queen and Country” and “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Curtain,” complete the company.

Denise Gough’s Statement

Denise Gough expressed her excitement about returning to the role of Emma, stating: “I am beyond excited and so grateful to be returning to the role of Emma in People, Places and Things. Duncan Macmillan’s incredible play was a life-changing experience for me and many others. It brought me pure joy, night after night, to take to the stage to share Emma’s story and I can’t wait to bring her back to new audiences and to give voice, and space, to people that live with or have experienced any form of addiction.”

What’s the Show About?


Emma, once living life on the edge, now finds herself in rehab. Her journey begins with the admission that she has a problem. However, Emma believes the real issue lies not with her but with everything else around her. She faces the daunting task of confronting her reality and seeking the truth in a world where truth seems elusive. The narrative explores themes of addiction, recovery, and the quest for authenticity in a seemingly chaotic world.

Assisted Performances


To ensure the show is accessible to all, several assisted performances are scheduled:

  • BSL Performance: Saturday, July 20, 2:30 pm
  • Captioned Performances: Saturday, July 6, 2:30 pm & Tuesday, July 16, 7:30 pm
  • Audio Described: Saturday, July 13, 2:30 pm & Thursday, July 25, 7:30 pm

Critical Acclaim and Audience Reception

Personal Review


Having seen “People, Places and Things” during its 2016 run, I was eager to see if it retained its powerful impact. To my delight, it felt even more relevant in 2024. Denise Gough’s portrayal of Emma is nothing short of phenomenal. She captures the character’s descent into addiction and her struggle for recovery with raw, unflinching honesty. The play is intense and sometimes hard to watch, but it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s evident that this is a National Theatre production, with every element meticulously crafted.

Continued Relevance

The themes of “People, Places and Things” resonate deeply today, perhaps even more so than during its initial run. Issues of addiction, mental health, and the search for meaning in a fragmented world are as pertinent as ever. This production does not shy away from the harsh realities, making it a compelling watch for contemporary audiences.

Audience Reaction

Audiences have responded enthusiastically to the show’s return. The blend of powerful performances, sharp writing, and engaging direction creates a theatrical experience that lingers long after the final curtain.

Behind the Scenes

Creative Team

The success of “People, Places and Things” can be attributed to the talented creative team behind it:

  • Writer: Duncan Macmillan’s script is a masterclass in exploring complex themes with sensitivity and depth.
  • Director: Jeremy Herrin’s direction ensures that each performance is impactful, drawing the audience into Emma’s turbulent world.

Production Design

The production design plays a crucial role in immersing the audience in Emma’s journey. The set, lighting, and sound design work in harmony to create a visceral, immersive experience. Each element is thoughtfully crafted to enhance the storytelling, from the stark rehab center to the disorienting effects that mirror Emma’s inner turmoil.

Broader Impact and Legacy

Influence on Theatre

“People, Places and Things” has left a significant mark on contemporary theatre. Its honest portrayal of addiction and recovery has sparked important conversations about these issues. The play’s success has also paved the way for more productions that tackle challenging topics with nuance and empathy.

Case Studies and Real-life Parallels

The play’s depiction of addiction and recovery resonates with many real-life stories. Case studies of individuals who have struggled with addiction often mirror Emma’s journey, highlighting the play’s authenticity and relevance. These parallels reinforce the importance of theatre as a medium for exploring and understanding complex human experiences.

Future Prospects

As “People, Places and Things” continues its run, its influence is likely to grow. The themes it explores and the conversations it sparks are vital in today’s world. The play’s ability to connect with audiences on a deep emotional level ensures that it will remain a significant work in the theatrical canon.


“People, Places and Things” is more than just a play; it’s a powerful exploration of addiction, recovery, and the human condition. Its return to London’s West End is a testament to its enduring relevance and impact. With a stellar cast led by Denise Gough, this production promises to captivate and move audiences once again. Don’t miss the chance to experience this remarkable play before it closes on August 10, 2024.

Author Profile

Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


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