Everything you need to know about Bitter Wheat

By | Posted on 29-Jan-2019

Everything you need to know about Bitter Wheat

Bitter Wheat has now closed at the Garrick Theatre. Why not read all about shows coming to the West End in 2020?

John Malkovich returns to the West End for the first time in over 30 years in the world premiere of Bitter Wheat, written and directed by David Mamet. Find out more about the production here, with what you can expect from the play’s world premiere.

All you need to know about Bitter Wheat

What’s the show based on?

The storyline of Bitter Wheat is inspired from allegations in relation to Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct. Articles concerning Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour were published in The New York Times and The New Yorker, with women reporting on Weinstein abusing his influential power within the industry.

Harvey Weinstein had been a powerful figure within the American entertainment industry since 1979, founding the company Miramax with his brother, Bob Weinstein. The company produced cinematic blockbusters, including Pulp Fiction (1994), Chicago (2002) and Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004).

Accusations about Weinstein’s behaviour led to the worldwide growth of the Me Too movement along with the hashtag #MeToo trending on social media as well as Time’s Up, a movement against sexual harassment. Individuals shared their experiences of sexual harassment, with the phrase ‘Weinstein Effect’ being coined as a result.

Who is David Mamet?

Photo credit: David Shankbone (Wikipedia) under CC 3.0

David Mamet is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, awarded the accolade in 1984 for his play Glengarry Glen Ross. Throughout his career, Mamet’s writing has created controversy in public debate, with notable texts including Speed-the-Plow in 1988 which dissected the inner workings of the American film industry.

Bitter Wheat is not the first play written by David Mamet to feature storylines of a sexual nature. First performed in 1992, Oleanna is a two-character play between a male university professor and a female student accusing her tutor of rape.

When speaking to the Chicago Tribune about Bitter Wheat, Mamet said:

“I was talking with my Broadway producer and he said, ‘Why don’t you write a play about Harvey Weinstein?’ And so I did.”

Bitter Wheat received its world premiere at the Garrick Theatre in June 2019.

What’s the synopsis?

Barney Fein is a leading Hollywood producer, but he can’t be the leading figure in the industry forever. Bitter Wheat is about a depraved Hollywood mogul who falls from a highly coveted position, where money and power prove to be strong influences. The narrative of Bitter Wheat is inspired from recent scandals in Hollywood.

Who starred in Bitter Wheat?

John Malkovich
Photo credit: Petr Novák, Wikipedia under CC 3.0

John Malkovich played Barney Fein in the upcoming production of Bitter Wheat. An American actor, director and producer, Malkovich has starred in twentieth-century cinematic greats, nominated for two Academy Awards for his performances in In the Line of Fire and Places in the Heart.

He has also produced films including Juno and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. On stage, Malkovich has performed in productions of True WestThe Glass Menagerie and The Dumb Waiter.

In 1990, Malkovich starred in Burn This at the Hampstead Theatre, later transferring to the Lyric Theatre, later performing in Slip of the Tongue from 1991 to 1992 at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

Doon Mackichan starred in the production, recently playing Feste in Twelfth Night at the National Theatre and in Jumpy at the Royal Court. Malkovich and Mackichan are joined by Ioanna Kimbook, who will make her debut theatre performance in Bitter Wheat.

The cast was completed by Alexander Arnold, Teddy Kempner, Matthew Pidgeon and Zephryn Taitte.