Sheffield Theatres and English Touring Theatre today announce the full cast for their co-production of the world première of Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive imagined for the stage by Jonathan Watkins and with text by April De Angelis.

Jonathan Watkins directs Phil Cheadle (Older Matt), Chris Donnelly (Dad), Janet Etuk (Andrea), Mike Noble (Younger Matt), Dilek Rose (Dawn/Jenny/Rose) and Connie Walker (Mum). The production opens on 18 September, with previews from 13 September and runs at Sheffield Theatres until 28 September, ahead of a tour to Bristol, Huddersfield, Newcastle, Manchester, York and Leeds.

A Sheffield Theatres and English Touring Theatre production
World Première
By Matt Haig
Imagined for the stage by Jonathan Watkins
Text written by April De Angelis

Director Jonathan Watkins; Designer Simon Daw; Lighting Designer Jessica Hung Han Yun
Composer Alex Baranowski; Sound Designer Nick Greenhill; Casting Director Lucy Casson

13 – 28 September
Press night: 18 September, 7.45pm

‘Life is waiting for you. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.’

At 24 Matt’s world collapsed under the weight of depression. This is the true story of his journey out of crisis; a profoundly uplifting exploration of living and loving better. The first theatrical adaptation of Matt Haig’s frank and funny bestseller. This play with music and movement, imagined for the stage by Jonathan Watkins, celebrates what it means to be alive.

Phil Cheadle returns to Sheffield Theatres to play Older Matt. He previously appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. His other theatre credits include Table (New Vic Theatre), The Cardinal (Southwark Playhouse), Breaking The Code (Royal Exchange Theatre), Henry V (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Chichester Festival Theatre), Mrs. Affleck (National Theatre), Henry IV, Bedlam (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Changeling (UK tour/Barbican), Neighbourhood Watch (Stephen Joseph Theatre/Tricycle Theatre/59E59 Theater), Dear Uncle (Stephen Joseph Theatre) and Events While Guarding The Bofors Gun, Variation on a Theme (Finborough Theatre). His television credits include Harlots, Dark Angel, The Crimson Fields and New Worlds; and for film, John Carter of Mars and the forthcoming 1917.

Chris Donnelly plays Dad. His theatre credits include Bent (Courtyard Theatre), Road (Southwark Playhouse), Darkness Darkness (Nottingham Playhouse), The Country, Billy Liar, One Flea Spare (UK tours) The Tempest, Orpheus and Eurydice and Macbeth (Insane Root Theatre Company). He has been part of Andrew Hilton’s award-winning Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory theatre company ensemble since its inception in 2000, with roles in Othello, The Winter’s Tale, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Tempest, Measure For Measure, The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Changeling, Troilus and Cressida and most recently Henry V. For television, his work includes No Offence, Fat Friends, Silent Witness, Wire in the Blood, The Musketeers, The Derren Brown Show and Vital Signs.

Janet Etuk plays Andrea. For theatre her work includes Tao of Glass (Manchester International Festival), Dinomania (New Diorama Theatre), Love (National Theatre, UK tour), Gastronomic (Norwich Theatre), Satyagraha (ENO/Improbable), Electronica (Rhum and Clay), The Scar Test (Soho Theatre and UK tour), Icons (Woman of the World Festival), The Love I Feel is Red (Tobacco Factory and Òran Mór) and Beyond Caring (Yard Theatre and National Theatre). For film, her work includes Love and The Souvenir.

Mike Noble plays Younger Matt. For theatre his work includes Cougar (Orange Tree Theatre), The Almighty Sometimes (Royal Exchange Manchester), Road (Royal Court Theatre), Game (Almeida Theatre), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Port (National Theatre), Mudlarks (HighTide and Bush Theatre) and Punk Rock (Lyric Hammersmith and Royal Exchange Manchester). For television, his work includes Home Fires, Mr Selfridge, Granchester and Prisoners’ Wives; and for film, Dark River, Kill Command, The Siege of Jadotville, Bachelor Games, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and Private Peaceful.

Dilek Rose plays Dawn/Jenny/Denise. For theatre, her work includes Cuzco, The Words are Coming Now, Gather Ye Rosebuds (Theatre503), Gendering Memories of Iraq (V&A), Baby Love (Bush Theatre and Tristram Bates Theatre), Twist (Soho Theatre), Octopus (Edinburgh Fringe, Greenwich Theatre andUK tour), Fallujah (Cockpit Theatre), Contractions (Trafalgar Studios) and Love’s Labour’s Lost (Bristol Old Vic). For television her work includes MotherFatherSon; and for film, Snake Pit and The Chocolate Wrapper.

Connie Walker plays Mum. Her theatre credits include The Importance of Being Earnest (Watermill Theatre), In Basildon (Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch), My Mother Said I Never Should, The Beauty Queen of Leenane (London Classic Theatre), Trestle (Southwark Playhouse), The March on Russia (Orange Tree Theatre), Death of a Salesman (Northampton Theatre Royal, UK tour), A Month of Sundays (Queens Theatre Hornchurch), FOLK (Birmingham Rep & UK tour), Seeing the Lights, Kes, Top Girls (New Vic Theatre), To Kill a Mockingbird (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre/UK tour/Barbican), As You Like It and Hay Fever (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Separate Tables (Chichester Festival Theatre), Happy Birthday Brecht (National Theatre), Mother Courage (New Wolsey Ipswich), Inside Out (Arcola Theatre/UK tour) and Much Ado About Nothing (Manchester Royal Exchange). Television credits include Silent Witness, The Vice and Blackpool. Film credits include The Darkest Light and What Do You See?.

Matt Haig is a British author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 25 languages. His novels for adults include the award-winning The Radleys and The Humans. He won the TV Book Club ‘book of the series’, and has been shortlisted for a Specsavers National Book Award. The Humans was chosen as a World Book Night title. His children’s novels have won the Smarties Gold Medal, the Blue Peter Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times.

April De Angelis’ work includes Wild East (Young Vic), The Village adapted from Lope de Vega’s Fuenteovejuna (Theatre Royal Stratford East), My Brilliant Friend adapted from Elena Ferrante’s novels (Rose Theatre Kingston), Rune (Old Vic Stoke), After Electra (Plymouth Theatre Royal and Tricycle Theatre), Jumpy (Royal Court and Duke of York’s), Catch (a collaboration with four other female playwrights) and Wild East (Royal Court), A Gloriously Mucky Business (Lyric Hammersmith), Calais (Paines Plough/Oran Mor), Country (Terror Season, Southwark Playhouse), an adaptation of Wuthering Heights (Birmingham Rep Theatre), A Laughing Matter (Out of Joint Theatre Company, National Theatre), The Warwickshire Testimony (RSC, The Other Place), The Positive Hour (Out of Joint Theatre/National Tour) and Playhouse Creatures (Sphinx Theatre Company, later revived by The Old Vic Theatre).

Jonathan Watkins directed and adapted KES (Sheffield Crucible Theatre, UK) a full-length dance-theatre production of the book ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’ by Barry Hines and created the first dance adaptation of George Orwell’s modern classic 1984 for Northern Ballet (UK Tour and Sadler’s Wells Theatre, May 2016). 1984 won Best New Dance Production at The Southbank Sky Arts Awards 2016 and was broadcast on the BBC with a DVD release by Opus Arte. Other credits include; Silent Vision, Stop Me When I’m Stuck, In The Presence of Others (Royal Ballet at Linbury Studio Theatre), As One (Royal Ballet), Diana and Actaeon for the production Metamorphosis: Titian (Royal Opera House/BBC Imagine film), Beyond Prejudice, Free Falling (Curve Foundation, Edinburgh Fringe Festival), NOW (New York City Ballet), Anger Fix (Sadler’s Wells), From Within and Onwards (Royal Ballet School), Push, Pull and all in-between and Osmosis (Hong Kong Performing Arts Centre), Together Alone (Ballet Black), Eventual Progress (Ekaterinburg Ballet Theatre, Russia), Present Process (Ballet Manila, Philippines), A Northern Trilogy (Northern Ballet), and Crash (Texas Ballet Theatre). He also worked as Movement Director on Road by Jim Cartwright (Royal Court Theatre), People by Alan Bennett (National Theatre), The Machine (Manchester International Festival/Donmar Warehouse/New York Park Avenue Armoury), Aristocrats and Coriolanus (Donmar Warehouse). On film Route 67 for The Slice Project. Sofa, which he also directed, and Bunker for Channel 4’s Random Acts series. He produced and directed the Iphone Dance Series, a collection of Iphone shot dance films and recently directed the Saint-Petersburg Film Festival selected short Imperfect Perfection.


Bristol Old Vic
1 – 5 October 2019
Box Office: 0117 987 7877

Lawrence Batley Theatre
8 – 12 October 2019
Box Office: 01484 430 528

Northern Stage
15 – 19 October 2019
Box Office: 0191 230 5151

HOME Manchester
29 October – 2 November 2019
Box Office: 0161 200 1500

York Theatre Royal
5 – 9 November 2019
Box Office: 01904 623 568

Leeds Playhouse
12 – 16 November 2019
Box Office: 0113 213 7700