A Very Expensive Poison

About the show

By Lucy Prebble
Based on the book by Luke Harding 
Directed by Hannah Goodwin

“The second you start telling a story, you start telling a lie.”

Part biography, part spy drama, part absurdist nightmare, A Very Expensive Poison looks at the true story of the assassination by poison of Alexander Litvinenko by the Russian secret service in London in 2006.

At this time of unnerving global crises and with the rumblings of a new Cold War, A Very Expensive Poison sends us careening through the shadowy world of international espionage from Moscow to Mayfair. In the strange convergence of global politics and radioactive villainy, a man pays with his life.

The play premiered at London’s The Old Vic in 2019 and is an astute mix of real events, vaudeville and thriller, with layer on layer of Putinesque post-truth theatricality.

Lucy Prebble is a writer for film, television, games and theatre. She is Co-Executive Producer and a writer on the HBO drama Succession. Her major plays include Enron and The Effect.

Hannah Goodwin is Resident Director at Belvoir Street Theatre. She co-directed both Alana Valentine’s Wayside Bride and Caryl Churchill’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, playing in rep at Belvoir in 2022, and directed Never Closer downstairs at Belvoir. She recently directed Blessed Union for Belvoir as part of Sydney World Pride.

About the writer

LucyLucy Prebble is executive producer and writer on the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning HBO drama Succession, for which she has also won a WGA and a PGA Award.

She is the writer and co-creator of I Hate Suzie, which was nominated for five BAFTAs including Best Drama, Best Writer and Best Actress. It was a huge hit for Sky, topping many major publications’ lists for best shows of 2020 in both the UK and the US where it is available on HBOMax. The sequel series, I Hate Suzie Too, premiered at the end of 2022 to rave reviews.

For theatre, Lucy has written the political and emotional meta-thriller A Very Expensive Poison (2019), which was a sell-out, five-star hit for the Old Vic and was Olivier-nominated for Best New Play. It won the Critics Circle Award for Best New Play and Best New Production of a Play at the Broadway World Awards. It also won her the Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Before that, The Effect, a study of love and neuroscience, was performed at the National Theatre and won the Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play.

Lucy is the writer of Enron, about the infamous corporate fraud, which transferred to the West End after sell-out runs at both the Royal Court and Chichester Festival Theatre. Her first play, The Sugar Syndrome (2003) won her the George Devine Award and was performed at the Royal Court.

About the director

Hannah GHannah Goodwin is Resident Director of Belvoir. She was awarded the Andrew Cameron Fellowship in 2020 and was part of the Artists at Work creative development initiative at Belvoir during the COVID shutdown. She was co-director of both Alana Valentine’s Wayside Bride and Caryl Churchill’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, playing in rep at Belvoir in 2022. She directed Never Closer downstairs at Belvoir in 2022. In 2023, she recently directed Blessed Union for Belvoir, as part of Sydney World Pride.

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