The Unreturning

The Unreturning

★★★★★ 'A truly remarkable show.' The Reviews Hub

★★★★★ 'Innovative and captivating.' Broadway World

★★★★ 'Performed with heart and focus.' The Guardian

'Oozes prestige like a flagship BBC drama.' The Stage

'Frantic Assembly has done it again. Mesmerising.' British Theatre Guide

'Skilfully performed, as physically adept and verbally dextrous as one would expect from this company.' Radio Exe

I want to return to my home. I want a hero’s welcome: fanfares and brass bands and sausage rolls and jaeger bombs. I want to lie under the skylight on my mum’s bed and watch clouds. I want to go out in my hometown, drink and dance and shout for no reason! I want to sing in the streets and puke in the gutter and they will never know. None of them will ever know what I….

Can beginnings be made out of endings? In a British Northern Coastal town, three young men are coming home. In 1918 George returns from the Western Front. In 2013 Frankie is back from his final tour of Afghanistan. And some time in the not-too-distant future Nat returns from an overseas refugee camp to what was his hometown.

A compelling new play by Anna Jordan (Yen – Royal Court Theatre, Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2013), directed by Neil Bettles (Associate Director of Frantic Assembly) and featuring Frantic’s celebrated physicality, The Unreturning explores the profound effect that war has on young lives, and asks – what does coming home really mean? What is home? And when experience has shattered you into a million pieces, will home help to put you together again, or treat you as an ugly truth it does not want to confront?

This production celebrates the 10th anniversary of Frantic Assembly’s Ignition training programme, of which Theatre Royal Stratford East has previously been a partner.

Please note that strobe lighting is used in this production.

Our ticket prices increase as the theatre fills. We always recommend booking early to secure the best seats at the best price.


More Information

Preview: Wed 16 Jan 2019
Price: From £10
Runtime: 100 mins (no interval)
Age Guidance: 14+ (contains very strong language. See full list of Trigger Warnings)
Please note that strobe lighting is used in this production.
Please note that Monday matinee performances are only available to book by phone or email.
Concessions: Available for under 26s 
Click here for details about companion/carer tickets.

Latecomers - please note there is one latecomer entry point 5 minutes after the start of the show. Latecomers will NOT be permitted entry after this.

Booking enquiries: When booking tickets online you cannot leave an isolated seat, so please call our friendly Box Office team on 020 8534 0310 if you need any help.

For some shows the boxes might have a slightly restricted view, please do not hesitate to speak to our friendly box office team before booking if you would like further information.

Access Performances
Captioned performance – Sat 26 Jan, 2.30pm
Audio described performance – Sat 02 Feb, 2.30pm
BSL interpreted performance – Sat 02 Feb, 7.30pm

Post-show Talk
Wed 30 Jan - Q&A with the cast

Cast and Creative

Frantic Assembly and Theatre Royal Plymouth present

Writer Anna Jordan
Director Neil Bettles
Set and Video Design Andrzej Goulding​ 
Costume Design Lily Arnold
Sound Design Pete Malkin
Lighting Design Zoe Spurr
Associate Director Jessica Williams

Joe Layton Frankie
Jared Garfield George
Jonnie Riordan Nat
Kieton Saunders-Browne Finn

Joe Layton will play Frankie.


Joe’s television work includes roles in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Tatau (BBC Three), Casualty (BBC), Thirteen (BBC3), Father Brown (BBC) and New Worlds (C4). Joe trained at Drama Centre and made his stage debut in A Level Playing Field (Jermyn Street Theatre).

Jared Garfield will play George.


Jared is best known to television audiences for his recurring role as Nathan Nightingale in Hollyoaks (C4) from 2015 to 2017. He has also appeared on television in Dr Who’s 2017 Christmas Special (BBC) and Midsomer Murders (ITV)Recent theatre roles include Mr Deville in A Harlem Dream (Young Vic), Lysander in Watch Your Head’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Windsor Castle) and The Dishwashers (Birmingham Rep/UK Tour). On film he has appeared in Boy A (Cuba Pictures) opposite Andrew Garfield.

Jonnie Riordan will play Nat.


Jonnie is an actor, director and movement director. As an actor, he has appeared in This Will All Be Gone (Frantic Assembly, Asian tour), No Way Back (Frantic Assembly/Made in Corby), Full Stop (Light The Fuse/Lyric Hammersmith/Greenwich and Docklands International Festival), Canticles (Brighton Festival/Aldeburgh Music/Frantic Assembly), The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Holland Park), Night Film (Stand + Stare), Mortal: A Drama (Wellcome Collection), The Fear (Frantic Assembly's Ignition) and In His Image (Hampstead Theatre).

Jonnie is also associate director of ThickSkin, appearing as an actor in their productions Boy Magnet and These Imagined Stories and directing Boy Magnet and White Noise. Other directing credits include the first stage adaptation of Nigel Slater's Toast (The Lowry) and Found (The Albany). ​As movement director his credits include Great Apes (Arcola Theatre), Connections Festival 16/17 (National Theatre), Maggie & Pierre (Finborough Theatre), The Paper Birds’ Mobile (UK tour), Frozen Light’s Home (UK tour), CAUGHT (Pleasance Theatre) and Cracking, Hooked and Bat Boy (New Wimbledon Studio).

Kieton Saunders-Browne will play Finn.


Keiton trained at the Young Actors Theatre and will be making his professional stage debut in The Unreturning. Keiton’s film credits include Pulling (Kaiser Siren Films) and The Backseat (Hidden Art Films).

Anna Jordan won the 2013 Bruntwood Prize for her play Yen after having been twice longlisted for her plays Marianne and Chicken ShopYen has had productions at Manchester Royal Exchange, the Royal Court and MCC New York as well as several international productions. It was also shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2015-2016.  Other theatre writing includes We Anchor In Hope (Royal Court Theatre - Beyond the Court), A Serious Case of the Fuckits (CSSD), Chicken Shop (Park Theatre), Freak (Theatre503/Assembly Studios) and Offliners (LAMDA).

Anna’s writing for TV includes staff writer for Succession (HBO) and a pilot of her own drama series on addiction Cluck (Little Brother Productions). Film includes The Ivory Year (LAMDA). Anna also directs and teaches acting. She directed Jonathan Harvey’s play Tomorrow I’ll Be Happy (National Theatre Shed as part of National Theatre Connections). Other directing experience includes Freak (Theatre503/Assembly Studios), 3 Winters, Touched and The Crucible (Italia Conti BA Hons), Earthquakes in London (Arts Educational BA Hons), Crystal Springs (Eureka Theatre, San Francisco), Only Human (Theatre503), Vote of No Confidence (Theatre503). She has worked at many London drama schools teaching both acting and playwriting, including RADA, LAMDA, Central, Arts Ed and Italia Conti. She also runs her own company - Without a Paddle Theatre, as well as a support network for recent drama school graduates called The Long Game. She co-founded Hackney Showroom Young Actors - a free weekly acting training for young people based in Hackney. Anna is currently working with Frantic Assembly, Headlong, The Royal Exchange, Paines Plough and The Royal Court. 

Neil Bettles is Associate Director for Frantic Assembly, most recently co-directing No Way Back for the company. His credits as Movement Director include The James Plays (Edinburgh International Festival & National Theatre), Blood WeddingThe Bacchae (Royal & Derngate), Much Ado About Wenlock (Vamos), Platform (Old Vic Tunnels), Henry IV: Part One (Drum, Plymouth), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Secret Cinema) and Stanley Pickle – an animated short film for the NFTS. Neil has also acted as Associate Director on The Light Princess (NT), The Full Monty (Sheffield Theatres/Coward). As Director: Chalk Farm, The Static, Blackout, Boy Magnet and White Noise, ThickSkin; Playlist, Belgrade, Coventry; Brave, Battersea Arts Centre. As Associate Director: tours of Beautiful Burnout and Lovesong, Frantic Assembly. As Assistant Director: Dirty Wonderland, Frantic Assembly.


Official Trailer

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Stratford East Podcast - Episode 4 - Kieton Saunders-Browne & Jonnie Riordan

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