Vincent in Brixton

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 24 April 2002, Opened 1 May 2002, Closed 27 July 2002 at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre in London
Transferred Previewed 1 August 2002, Opened 5 August 2002, Closed 26 October 2002 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London
Returned Previewed 8 July 2003, Opened 10 July 2003, Closed 23 August 2003 at the Playhouse Theatre in London

The National Theatre's production of Nicholas Wright's compelling and acclaimed new play Vincent in Brixton in London directed by Sir Richard Eyre.

Brixton, 1873. A brash young Dutchman, working for the London branch of an international firm of art-dealers, rents a room in the house of an English widow. Three years later, he returns to Europe on the first step of a journey which will end in breakdown, death and immortality. Nicholas Wright's new play, based on the true facts of Vincent van Gogh's early life in London, is about the transforming effect of love, sex and artistic adventure on unformed talent, and traces the birth of genius. Winner! Best New Play 2003 Olivier Awards

The original Cottesloe Theatre cast featured: Jochum ten Haaf 'Vincent Van Gogh', Clare Higgins as 'Ursula Loyer', Paul Nicholls as 'Sam Plowman', Emma Handy as 'Anna Van Gogh' and Emily Blunt as 'Eugenie Loyer'. The Wyndham's Theatre cast featured: Jochum ten Haaf 'Vincent Van Gogh', Clare Higgins as 'Ursula Loyer', Paul Nicholls as 'Sam Plowman', Emma Handy as 'Anna Van Gogh' and Alice Patten as 'Eugenie Loyer'. The Playhouse Theatre cast featured: Jochum ten Haaf 'Vincent Van Gogh', Clare Higgins as 'Ursula Loyer', Emma Handy as 'Anna Van Gogh', Louis Cancelmi as 'Sam Plowman' and Sarah Drew as 'Eugenie Loyer'. It is directed by Richard Eyre with designs Tim Hatley, costumes by Emma Marshall, lighting by Peter Mumford, music by Dominic Muldowney and sound by Neil Alexander.

"Nicholas Wright's sensitive, intelligent and quietly bold new play is a matter of speculation, cooked up from reading between the lines of the letters Vincent van Gogh sent to his brother Theo while living in Brixton in 1873, long before he became a celebrated earslashing sunflower painter. He was working as an art dealer and lodging with a depressive widow, Mrs Loyer, her daughter Eugenie, and the daughter's lover, an artist of some talent who, ironically, works as a painter and decorator later in life to support his family. Vincent obviously recognised a kindred spirit in the landlady, drawing her out of her black widow's weeds and even blacker moods into new life and colour, only to cast her into deeper despair when he runs off to become a preacher. Wright presents a portrait of the young artist as an intense, tormented, driven spirit, searching for a way to express himself with total honesty and truth. In the final, searingly memorable scene, he finds himself sketching his well-worn boots as they dry out on the kitchen table made from ancient floorboards. It's a marvellous epiphanic moment, when we see the artist emerge from his chrysalis. Richard Eyre draws compelling performances from an outstanding cast to create an intriguing piece of great beauty and tenderness. A moving work of art." The Mail on Sunday

"This is Nicholas Wright's best play, and one of the best new plays ever presented by the National Theatre. It contains a magnetic performance by the Dutch actor Jochum Ten Haaf as the 20-year-old Van Gogh... Vincent has taken lodgings with a Mrs Loyer in Brixton, and he thinks he has fallen in love with her daughter, Eugenie. But, more and more, it is Eugenie's mother, Ursula - beautifully played by Clare Higgins, looking a little like Van Gogh's L'Arlesienne, with a sense of wistful but intense sensuality and painful pride - who comes into focus... Richard Eyre's direction has a ruthless but loving sense of observation. At the end, Vincent is seen withdrawn into the no man's land of his self, totally absorbed in what will be a sketch for his famous painting of his boots. An artist is born, on his way to an immortality that would have terrified him." The Sunday Times

"While Nicholas Wright's poignant play is nothing more than intriguing conjecture, it paints a wonderful picture of a troubled genius in the making... A product of Holland himself, Juchum Ten Haaf is excellent stepping into the impoverished Vincent's worn-out boots. As his landlady Ursula Loyer, the brilliant Clare Higgins, delivers a tortured portrait of a middle-aged widow wracked with despair. In her young tenant she sees a chance to emerge from the stultified mundanity of her existence to at least encourage someone else's remarkable talent... Director Richard Eyre does all that he should with a great cast and a work of towering quality. This is theatre at its best. All lovers of both art and drama should make every effort to attend this play and be swept away by the beautiful story of Vincent In Brixton." The Daily Mirror

"What was Vincent Van Gogh doing in Brixton, of all places? Well, he stayed there in 1873 when he was working for a firm of art dealers in London. That was when he was 20 and long before he lost the plot and became the sunflower-painting, ear-missing, suffering genius he is today. Vincent lodged with a widowed schoolmistress, Ursula Loyer, and this play speculates that he falls madly in love with the landlady's daughter, Eugenie, but, after realising Eugenie is in love with the other lodger in the house, switches his passions - he is a right hothead - for Eugenie's mother instead. Nicholas Wright's lovely play opened at the National Theatre in May in a shimmering production directed by Richard Eyre. The show has now transferred and it still casts the same spell. ... The whole evening is a mood piece done with great skill and imagination, a cut above most stage biographies." The Daily Express

Vincent in Brixton in London at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre previewed from 24 April 2002, opened on 1 May 2002 and closed on 27 July 2002, transferred to the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 1 August 2002, opened on 5 August 2002 and closed on 26 October 2002, returned Playhouse Theatre previewed from 8 July 2003, opened on 10 July 2003 and closed on 23 August 2003.