National Theatre


A work devised by Katie Mitchell and the Company, from the text of Virginia Woolf’s novel, The Waves, this was one of the first shows to feature the cinematography and video design of  Leo Warner for Fifty Nine Productions.

Crafting a form that would come to be known as “Live Cinema”, The Waves had a significant impact on both critics and audiences, introducing many to a new way in which theatre and film might interact. Referred to by Guardian critic Lyn Gardner as “an entirely new art form” it was also praised as “art of the highest order” by the Telegraph’s Sam Marlowe.

Selected Reviews

‘London has seen three pieces of British theatre this millennium that have felt like breakthroughs in theatre poetry: Matthew Bourne’s Play Without Words, Theatre de Complicite’s The Elephant Vanishes, and this, a sensuously many-layered response to Virginia Woolf’s 1931 novel The Waves, devised by director Katie Mitchell and her company of actors and musicians. An absorbingly multi-media performance work, it pours forth meanings: we can follow it as an analysis of consciousness and as the construction of a work of art.’

The Financial Times

‘Imagine the miracle of encountering a production like Katie Mitchell?s, which flirts wittily with the fractured preoccupations of the modernist mindset… Film cameras project onto a screen emotionally vivid images, set up with self-conscious artifice on stage. So while, for example, on stage a man in black flaps a board in front of an actress, on screen she?s standing, hair blowing in the breeze, and suddenly it?s possible to feel all her fears and desperation… Here Woolf pushes both the use of language and characterisation to its limits. Mitchell brings that intellectual quest to exquisite theatrical life.’

Time Out

‘Ingenious and incrementally moving… the overhead camera angles, the twitchy life-of-their-own surrealism of the shots of epitomising objects reminded me of the work of the great Czech film maker Jan Svankmeije.’

The Independent

‘This exquisite feat of illusion is art of the highest order… an intellectual and aesthetic pleasure.’

The Times

‘This is an extraordinary show: spellbinding, sophisticated and moving.’

Sunday Times

‘Ingenious… this couldn’t be better done.’

The Observer



Katie Mitchell


Vicki Mortimer

Lighting Designer

Paule Constable

Video Designer

Leo Warner


Paul Clark

Sound Designer

Gareth Fry


Kate Duchene
Michael Gould
Anastasia Hille
Kristin Hutchinson
Sean Jackson
Liz Kettle
Paul Ready
Jonah Russell

Produced by

National Theatre London