Ivan Oyik stars in the 2019 Papatango New Writing Prize-winner Shook by Samuel Bailey, which was due to transfer to the West End when the pandemic hit. Shook has now been filmed and will be available to watch online from Friday 5 February until Sunday 28 February 2021.
Shook won the 2019 Papatango New Writing Prize, debuting to critical acclaim at Southwark Playhouse, and was nominated for 7 OffWestEnd Awards and The Stage Debut Award for Most Promising Playwright. It became the best-selling world première in the venue’s history, and sold out on tour across England and Wales.
The original cast, which alongside Ivan Oyik includes, Josef Davies (Jonjo), Josh Finan (Cain) and Andrea Hall (Grace), return for the filmed production. Tickets are £10, and give audiences access to stream the show for 48 hours after purchase via www.papatango.co.uk/shook – captions available. Papatango will mark the production’s online première with a live Q&A with the cast and creative team across its social media channels at 7.30pm on Friday 5 February.
Samuel Bailey’s Shook is being released online, what can you tell us about the play?
Shook is about 3 teenagers, Cain, Jonjo and Riyad, who are preparing for fatherhood with the help of their teacher Grace. The boys are coming of age and trying to understand life, while being inside in a Young Offenders’ Institution.
It would have gone to the West End last year if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, how does it feel to still be able to share it, albeit in a different way?
I don’t know why but a part of me always felt that despite the cancellation of the West End transfer something would still allow Shook to be seen. Now, thanks to Papatango and James Bobin, it’s great that we are able to show such a great play through another avenue. I’m just happy that Shook is going to continue to get the recognition it deserves.
Has the original production been adapted to suit this new medium?
We definitely took advantage of the fact it was being filmed, though the majority of the play from the theatre performances is still very much there. That’s a testament to George’s direction: we did not have to stray far from what we already had.
Tell us about your character, Riyad?
Riyad is a confident and intelligent young man who, despite the environment he has grown up in, knows what he wants to be and where he wants to go. He’s a caring person (shown in his own way), who I would say is the unofficial leader and glue of the three boys. He won’t allow his situation or anyone to try and bring him down, but he does have moments where his emotions, especially anger, get the best of him – he’s still a teenager after all.
What’s been your biggest challenge playing this role, and what have you learned from the experience?
I’d say my biggest challenge was making sure that Riyad wasn’t seen as a caricature of what people associate with boys in the young offenders/prison system. I want audiences to see Riyad along with Cain and Jonjo as just teenagers navigating the world they happen to be in, and not as criminals. This experience taught me that when you have a great script and team around you, anything is possible. That’s why I believe we’re able to bring Shook to audiences online.
What do you admire most about Samuel Bailey’s writing?
I admire that Samuel has created a real world with real characters. These are people whom you will come across in day-to-day life or probably even know yourself. The whole cast more or less remembered the play, even though we hadn’t done it in almost a year, and that speaks for how memorable and remarkable Samuel’s writing is. Even though he definitely didn’t know me when he was writing the play, he essentially created Riyad for me and here I am bringing him to life once again.
Why do you think the play was so well received when it first ran at Southwark Playhouse?
If you read the reviews you’ll see for yourself, the play speaks to people and makes them feel like they are a part of it. People from many different backgrounds have seen the play and have had the same reactions and felt so many things when they were watching it. We (the cast and crew) knew this was something special from day one, and it’s no surprise that people loved it.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to watch Shook?
That they shouldn’t be thinking about it, they should just do it. Prepare to enjoy it, to laugh and even to cry.