Our work

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

2022 - 2023

‘I see the Earth in eclipse. I see us moving about blindly in eternal Gloom, like May bugs trapped in a box by a cruel child. It’s easy to harm and injure us, to smash up our intricately assembled, bizarre existence… I see nothing but Catastrophes. But as the Fall is the beginning, can we possibly fall even lower?’ – Janina Duszejko, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Based on Nobel Prize winning author Olga Tokarczuk’s novel of the same name, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is a new work for theatre conceived and directed by Simon McBurney, with revival co-direction & original additional direction by Kirsty Housley. Tokarczuk’s controversial, violent, genre defying novel – part thriller, part comedy, and part blistering poetic manifesto for the rights of animals and the environment – caused an uproar in its native Poland upon publication.

In the depths of winter, in a small community on a remote Polish mountainside near the Czech-Polish border, men from the local hunting club are dying in mysterious circumstances and Janina Duszejko – an eccentric older local woman, ex-engineer, environmentalist, devoted astrologer and enthusiastic translator of William Blake – has her suspicions. She has been watching the animals with whom the community share their isolated, rural home, and she believes they are acting strangely…

A Complicité co-production with Barbican London, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Bristol Old Vic, Comédie de Genève, Holland Festival, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, L’Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, The Lowry, The National Theatre of Iceland, Oxford Playhouse, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Access Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead Digital Offer and resource pack for schools, containing rehearsal notes, interviews and creative tasks to support students studying devising is available on our Resources page.

Complicité thanks the Mirisch & Lebenheim Charitable Foundation for their generous support of this production.

Complicité is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. The production is additionally funded by Backstage Trust and Maria Björnson Memorial Fund.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is published in Great Britain by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

© Camilla Adams, Alex Brenner

“It was magnificent. The expressions on the faces, the brilliant timing of this entire piece, which, thanks to the steady hand of director Simon McBurney, comes together like a sophisticated clockwork.” Trouw (Holland Festival)
“Complicité’s masterly take on Olga Tokarczuk’s eco-thriller is a knockout.” The Observer
“Theatrically, this is a masterclass.” The Guardian
“Wizards of the theatre, shamans of the stage and undoubtedly one of the greatest theatre companies to have ever existed, anywhere, Simon McBurney’s Complicité stage the unstageable with supernatural panache.” Time Out


Theatre Royal Plymouth 1 - 3 December 2022
Bristol Old Vic 19 January - 11 February 2023
Oxford Playhouse 1 - 4 March 2023
Barbican, London 15 March - 1 April 2023
Nottingham Playhouse 4 - 8 April 2023
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry 18 - 22 April 2023
The Lowry, Salford 25 - 29 April 2023
Gross Saal, Recklinghausen, Germany 3 - 6 May 2023
Grand Theatre, Luxembourg 11 - 12 May 2023
Theatre Olympics, Budapest 16 - 17 May 2023
Theater Akzent, Vienna 22 - 26 May 2023
Holland Festival, Amsterdam 1 - 4 June 2023
l'Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe, Paris 7 - 17 June 2023
Onassis Stegi, Athens 4 - 7 October 2023
Comédie de Genève, Geneva 12 - 21 October 2023
Thalia Theater, Hamburg 27 - 28 October 2023
Temporada Alta, Girona 2 - 4 November 2023



Creative Team
Creative Team
  • Conceived and directed
    Simon McBurney
  • Revival co-direction & original additional direction
    Kirsty Housley
  • Based on the novel by
    Olga Tokarczuk
  • Set and Costume Design
    Rae Smith
  • Lighting Design
    Paule Constable
  • Sound Design
    Christopher Shutt
  • Video Design
    Dick Straker
  • Dramaturgy
    Laurence Cook & Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre
  • Movement Direction
    Toby Sedgwick
  • Original Compositions
    Richard Skelton
  • Staff Director
    Christina Deinsberger
  • Associate Costume Designer
    Johanna Coe
  • Wigs Designer
    Susanna Peretz
  • Casting
    Amy Ball CDG
  • Additional Movement
    Crystal Pite
  • Associate Lighting Design & Programming
    Tom Pritchard
  • Sound Associate
    Ella Wahlström
  • Associate Video Designer
    Mark Morreau
  • Associate Set Designer
    William Fricker
  • Design Assistant
    Ruth Hall
  • Original novel translation
    Antonia Lloyd-Jones
  • Production Manager
    Niall Black
  • Associate Production Manager
    Jamie Maisey
  • Company Stage Manager
  • Deputy Stage Manager
    Elspeth Watt
  • Technical Stage Manager
    Sarah Ware
  • Wardrobe Supervisor
    Heather Judge
  • Wardrobe Assistant
    Amy Shearer
  • Lighting Supervisor
    Tom Pritchard
  • Lighting Technician
    Ben Webster
  • Stage Supervisor
    Leo Liles
  • Sound Supervisors
    Amir Sherhan, Sean Gallacher
  • Original Video Programming
    Salvador Bettencourt Ávila
  • Video Programmer
    Caitlyn Russell
  • Video Supervisor
    Ted Latus
  • Animator
    Gustaf Lindstrom
  • Model Box Assistant
    Catherine Morgan
  • Dramatherapist
    Wabriya King
  • Access Consultant
    Aisling Gallagher
  • Audio Description Consultant
    Benjamin Wilson for Hear the Picture
  • Audio Describer
    Jo Mousley for Hear the Picture
  • Poster Artwork
    Patryk Hardziej
  • Additional Video directed by
    Adam Smith @flatnosegeorge
  • Additional Video Production Company
    Treatment Studio
  • Shoot Producer
    Matt Cummins
  • Treatment Studio Producer
    Sam Brickman
  • Editors 
    Iain Finlay & Warren Chapman
  • Animators 
    James Rushton, Noah Campeau & Charlie Broome
  • Technical Supervisor 
    Dylan Steenkamp
  • DOP 
    Ricky Patel
  • Art Director 
    Jake Shepherd
  • Archivist 
    Matthew Sanger
  • Runner 
    Austin Shaw
  • Thanks to 
    Patrick Hickey
  • General Management
    Jennie Green & Marlous Lang-Peterse for Great Leap Forward
  • Tour Booker
    Kayte Potter for Great Leap Forward
  • Production Assistant
    Sara Cormack for Great Leap Forward
  • Marketing Director
    Emma Laugier for Emma Laugier Marketing
  • Marketing Manager
    Suzannah Bowles for Emma Laugier Marketing
  • Marketing Assistant
    Matthew Meldrum for Emma Laugier Marketing


2024 Catalan Critics Award for Best International Show

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