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The York Realist is a 2001 play by Peter Gill. It was premiered at the Lowry in November 2001 before moving to the Bristol Old Vic and the Royal Court Theatre in January 2002 by English Touring Theatre, with Gill himself directing. It transferred to the Strand Theatre in March 2002.

The play was revived in September 2009 at the Riverside Studios by the company Good Night Out Presents, to mark Gill's 70th birthday. It was revived again in February 2018 at the Donmar Warehouse.


It is set in the early 1960s and revolves around George (a Yorkshire farm labourer involved in a production of the York Mystery Plays who withdraws from the production), John (the production's shy assistant director who tries to convince him to come back), the love affair between them, and the clash between regional and London culture.


Reviews of the original production ranged from "a rare blast of reality" (the Guardian) to a "stunningly boring slab of dour social realism" (the Telegraph).

The play was nominated for Best New Play at the Olivier Awards and Evening Standard Theatre Awards and won the Critics Circle Award for Best New Play.

Original castEdit

Creative TeamEdit

  • Director - Peter Gill
  • Designer - William Dudley
  • Lighting Designer - Hartley T A Kemp
  • Composer - Terry Davies
  • Assistant Director - Josie Rourke
  • Dialect Coach - Jeanette Nelson


The play was revived in October 2009 at Riverside Studios by Good Night Out Presents. The production received positive reviews, with Michael Billington describing the production as "lovingly revived by Adam Spreadbury-Maher" (the Guardian). The production was seen as particularly fitting given that Gill founded the Riverside Studios in 1975, and that this would be the first Gill production at the theatre for 30 years.[1]

The play was revived in February 2018 at Donmar Warehouse, in a production directed by Robert Hastie.

Oct 2009 Riverside Studios Feb 2018 Donmar Warehouse
George Stephen Hagan Ben Batt
John Matthew Burton Jonathan Bailey
George and Barbara's Mother Stephanie Fayerman Lesley Nicol
Barbara Sarah Waddell Lucy Black
Arthur Sam Hazeldine Matthew Wilson
Doreen Fiona Gordon Katie West
Jack Jack Blumeneau Brian Fletcher

Riverside Studios Creative TeamEdit

  • Director - Adam Spreadbury-Maher
  • Designer - Kate Guinness
  • Costume Designer - Mia Thomson
  • Lighting Designer - Steve Lowe

Donmar Warehouse Creative TeamEdit

  • Director - Robert Hastie
  • Set and Costume Designer - Peter McKintosh
  • Lighting Designer - Paul Pyant
  • Sound Designer - Emma Laxton
  • Composer - Richard Taylor


External linksEdit