World Premiere

The Oyster Problem



9 February -
4 March 2023


“But what’s the point of living without wine?”

Madame Bovary made Gustave Flaubert the most famous writer in Paris, but thanks to a bad publishing deal he’s barely earned enough cash for a croissant – let alone enough to indulge his appetite for oysters. In fact, he’s flat broke. His friends Zola and Turgenev beg him to dumb down his work for the masses, but Gustave isn’t compromising. There’s only one thing for it – Flaubert must find a job.

This sparkling debut play by Orlando Figes – one of today’s most popular and distinguished historians – derives from his best-selling book The Europeans. Philip Wilson directs a delicious comedy of literary fiascos. Put the champagne on ice!


Bob Barrett
Gustave Flaubert
Bob is a stage and television actor, perhaps best known for his role as Sacha Levy in Holby City. His theatre credits include several national tours in Shakespearian roles.
Giles Taylor
Ivan Turgenev
Giles has recently completed a sell-out run as Marley's Ghost (and more) in David Edgar's acclaimed adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol for the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon. His film credits include Netflix and Sally Potter’s Orlando (1992).
Norma Atallah
George Sand and Juliette Adam
Norma’s recently appeared in the National Theatre’s production of Follies (2018). She has extensive film and television credits which include Les Misérables (2013) as well as the BBC’s EastEnders and Doctors.
Peter Hannah
Emile Zola
Peter has worked extensively in theatre, television, and film, including the National Theatre of Scotland, BBC’s Casualty, and Doctor Who. He is part of the original cast of the musical Waitress.
Rosalind Lailey
Caroline Commanville
Rosalind returns to Jermyn Street Theatre after starring in Orlando (2022), directed by Stella Powell-Jones. She has previously appeared at the Globe, the Arcola, and the Watermill Theatre.

Orlando Figes
Philip Wilson
Isabella van Braeckel
Set and Costume Designer
Catja Hamilton
Lighting Designer
Harry Blake
Composer and Sound Designer
Amos Clarke
Stage Manager
Lucy Fowler
Associate Set and Costume Designer


“Flaubert and chums step out of the history books”
The Times

“A dream dinner party set up”
The Guardian

“Pacy and full of fun”
Reviews Hub

“The cast are excellent”
North West End

“Distant history so close you could feel its heartbeat”
Karl Ove Knausgaard on The Europeans