National Theatre announces casting for rehearsed reading of ‘The Drag’

The National Theatre will mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales by staging its first Queer Theatre event series from 6 – 10 July 2017, exploring the way theatre has charted the LGBT+ experience.

The final production in the series will be a rehearsed reading of Mae West’s scandalous play The Drag (1927) on Monday 10th July, directed by Polly Stenham.

The cast will include: Fisayo Akinade, Arun Blair-Mangat, Niamh Cusack, Richard Dempsey, Sacha Dhawan, Tom Edden, Adetomiwa Edun, Jodie McNee, Cyril Nri, Sule Rimi and Adrian Scarborough.


Hugely controversial in its day, The Drag centres around respected, married socialite Rolly. Son of a homophobic judge and married to the daughter of an eminent gay conversion therapist, Rolly is keen to keep his homosexual tendencies under wraps.

However, when he decides to host a drag ball in his drawing room, events soon spiral out of control.

One of the first plays to shed light on gay counter-culture, Mae West’s rarely performed comedy was famously banned after just ten performances.


The NT’s Queer Theatre event series is hosted in partnership with Pride in London and includes:

  • Neaptide by Sarah Daniels, directed by Sarah Frankcom, Thursday 6 July, 7.30pm
  • Wig Out! written and directed by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Friday 7 July, 7.30pm
  • Certain Young Men written and directed by Peter Gill, Sat 8 July, 7.30pm
  • Bent by Martin Sherman, directed by Stephen Daldry, Sunday 9 July, 2.30pm
  • The Drag by Mae West, directed by Polly Stenham, Monday 10 July, 7.30pm.

Free post show talks (40 mins) will follow each reading exploring the issues in the plays and in a wider context for the LGBT+ community.

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