Cast announced for RSC’s new play Ben and Imo from Mark Ravenhill

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has announced casting for its new play Ben and Imo.

Written by Mark Ravenhill and directed by Erica Whyman, the piece will run from 21 February – 6 April 2024 at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The play delves into the fascinating creative relationship between the legendary composer Benjamin Britten and the gifted musician Imogen Holst.

Meet the cast

Samuel Barnett, currently enthralling audiences at the Bush Theatre in Feeling Afraid as if Something Terrible is Going to Happen, will embody the character of Benjamin Britten.

Victoria Yeates, best known for her portrayal of Sister Winifred in the BBC’s Call the Midwife, steps into the shoes of Imogen Holst.

Set in the pivotal year of 1953, during the lead-up to Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, Ben and Imo traces the intense yet inspirational association between Britten and Holst. The narrative follows Brittens daunting task of composing the opera Gloriana about Elizabeth I, with Holst entering his life as a vibrant, candid influence, transforming their professional partnership into a profound, enduring bond.

Erica Whyman said: “Ben and Imo is a rare treat; a play that captures the delicious and also tormenting struggle of a new artistic endeavour, the mischievous wit of two brilliant individuals, and the cruelty that often accompanies the assumption of genius. It is a play about love, about music, and, importantly, about power; and Mark, of course, does not shy away from the disturbing choices that face a talented woman who has dedicated herself to a man’s success. Samuel and Victoria are performers at the top of their game, and they will bring these fascinating characters to life with playful vulnerability, fierce intelligence and unflinching courage.”

Mark Ravenhill added: “I first wrote about Benjamin Britten and Imogen Holst for BBC Radio 3 in 2013, to mark the centenary of Brittens birth. One artist who has been celebrated and commemorated, one whose life and work have been largely forgotten. During the pandemic, I returned to my research and rebuilt the Ben and Imo material from the ground up to make a new play for the theatre. I found these two complex and passionate characters – and their commitment to their art – to be a great solace during my lockdown isolation. Their story, I think, still poses urgent questions about how we make art today.”

Joining the creative team are Soutra Gilmour (Designer), Jackie Shemesh (Lighting), Conor Mitchell (Music), Carolyn Downing (Sound), Pippa Hill (Dramaturg) and Matthew Dewsbury CDG (Casting).

For more information and tickets, visit

About the author: Josh Darvill

Josh is Stageberry's editor with over five years of experience writing about theatre in the West End and across the UK. Prior to following his passion for musicals, he worked for more than a decade as a TV journalist.


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