News: cast and creatives announced for Margaret Perry’s Paradise Now! at Bush Theatre

Paradise Now! a funny and raging new play about ambition, exploitation, and kinship in a world that wants to keep us strangers, opens at the Bush Theatre on 2 December.  This new Bush Theatre commission by Margaret Perry (Collapsible) is an exciting collaboration with director Jaz Woodcock-Stewart (Civilisation) and features an all-female ensemble cast of Annabel Baldwin, Michele Moran, Shazia Nicholls, Ayoola Smart, Rakhee Thakrar and Carmel Winters.

Design is by Rosie Elnile, lighting design is by Alex Fernandes, Sound Design and Composition is by Jasmin Kent Rodgman, Costume Designer and Design Associate is by Hazel Low, Dramaturgy is by Deirdre O’Halloran and Casting is by Polly Jerrold

“It doesn’t happen all the time. That you really connect with someone. It’s rare to meet someone like you.”

Gabriel Dolan’s never been up to much. That’s what everyone says.

Until she meets Alex, a young, ambitious woman who sells essential oils for a company called Paradise, and overnight, she is drawn into a bright new floral-scented world.

In Paradise, you’re your own boss. In Paradise, you could make a fortune. Embraced by a new community of women just like her, Gabriel rises through the ranks of the company like a shooting star.

But when she gets to the top, it doesn’t quite feel like she thought it would. 

Margaret Perry is a playwright from Cork. Her debut full-length play, Porcelain, was produced at The Abbey Theatre in 2018 and she subsequently adapted it for BBC Radio 4. Her play Collapsible premiered at the VAULT Festival 2019, before going to Edinburgh Fringe, Dublin Fringe (where it won the Fishamble Award for Best New Play), and transferring to the Bush Theatre in Feb 2020. She was part of the Royal Court Supergroup 2018/19, led by Alice Birch and Alistair McDowell.  Margaret is currently a writer on attachment at the RSC and a BFI Flare X Bafta mentee, mentored by Sean Durkin.

Jaz Woodcock-Stewart is a director working in theatre and performance. Her play Civilisation was the winner of the Jury Prize at the European Festival for Young Stage Directors at Dresden Staatsschauspiel. She was also nominated by the National Theatre to create Something New at Performance Laboratory Salzburg 2019. She is the Artistic Director of award-winning arts company, Antler, (Associate Company at the Bush Theatre 2017-18) and an associate artist at Brixton House. As Director, Jaz’s productions include Electric Rosary (Royal Exchange), Gulliver’s Travels (Unicorn), Civilisation (New Diorama, HOME Manchester, Hellerau), Madrigal (RCSSD), Fen (Lamda), Learning Piece (The Place) Something New (Performance Laboratory Salzburg, Thomas Bernhard Institut/NT/Mitos21) Lands (Bush Theatre), Mother Courage (East 15 Acting School), The Bacchae (East 15 Acting School), Wifmon (National Theatre Studio) and If I Were Me (Underbelly/Bush Theatre/Soho Theatre). 

Annabel Baldwin plays Anthie.  Annabel trained in Acting at ArtsEd. Their work in theatre includes Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (where they originated the role of Moaning Myrtle), The Wolves (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Wild Swimming (Bristol Old Vic/ Pleasance), Antigone (New Diorama), Dear Elizabeth (Gate Theatre), Pride and Prejudice Sort Of* (Criterion) and How to build a Wax Figure (Pleasance, London.). Their television work includes The Great (Hulu), Doctors (BBC), I hate Suzie (Amazon Prime), and The Jewish Enquirer (Amazon Prime). They played Anne Elliot in Audible’s original adaptation of Persuasion and narrated Julia Armfield’s acclaimed debut novel Our Wives under the Sea. They do voice work for a variety of television and radio projects and can be heard advertising a cereal bar near you.  

Michele Moran plays Gabriel. Selected theatre includes: Into The Woods (Cockpit Theatre) Alice’s Adventures In Underground (The Vaults), Beyond The Fence (Arts Theatre, West End); True Story of Hansel and Gretel (Dublin Theatre Festival); Carousel (Opera North and Tour); Tell Michele a Secret (Shoreditch Town Hall and BAC); Beauty Queen of Leenane (Leicester Curve); Dancing at Lughnasa (Royal And Derngate); Love In A Glass Jar and B for Baby (Abbey Theatre Dublin); Sequin Dreams (Bewley’s Cafe Theatre); Playboy of the Western World, Treasure Island, James and the Giant Peach and The Snow Queen (Nuffield Theatre); Holes (Wimbledon Theatre); The Wizard of Oz (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Silverlands (Druid); Othello, Don Carlos, Volpone and Hecuba (Royal Shakespeare Company); A Little Night Music, The Princes Play (The National Theatre).  TV includes: Hotel Portofino (PBS), Doctors (BBC), Call the Midwife (BBC), The Witcher (Netflix), Into the Badlands (Amazon Prime/AMC), Titanic (ITV), and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (BBC).

Shazia Nicholls plays Alex.  Shazia’s previous acting credits include Antigone (Regents Park Theatre), Kraken and Mancoin (Vaults Festival), Antony and Cleopatra (National Theatre), The Winter’s Tale and Macbeth (National Theatre Learning and on tour), Twelfth Night (Orange Tree Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare in the Square), Under My Skin (Pegasus Theatre Trust), Absent Friends (Lyric Hammersmith)  On television Shazia has appeared in The Disclaimer (Apple), The Undeclared War (Playground Entertainment), Darkness Rising (Channel 4), Call the Midwife and Doctor Foster (BBC). Shazia has also appeared in the short films Inquiry Into The State Of My Health, Hunch, Malcolm, and The Overcoat.

Ayoola Smart plays Carla. Ayoola is an Irish, Nigerian, and English actor from West Cork. After graduating from East 15 Acting School in 2016, Ayoola has since worked extensively across multiple media platforms. From The Taming of the Shrew and Romeo & Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe to film Juliet, Naked alongside Ethan Hawke and Rose Bryne, and TV including BBC’s Killing Eve, Les Misérables, and RTÉ’s hit Irish noir drama, Smother. In 2021 Ayoola was cast in the long-term role of Aviendha in Amazon’s The Wheel of Time, based on the Robert Jordan novels, Filming for series three will begin in early 2023. The film Cocaine Bear, directed by Elizabeth Banks in which she stars alongside Ray Liotta, will hit cinema’s February 2023. Ayoola also works as a voice-over artist through ‘Loud & Clear Voices’.

Rakhee Thakrar plays Laurie. Rakhee recently completed shooting the Warner Bros feature film Wonka opposite Timothée Chalamet and Olivia Colman.  Television credits include the series regular role of Miss Sands in the hit Netflix series Sex Education, Rules of the Game opposite Maxine Peake for BBC 1, Karen Pirie for ITV, The Girl Before for HBO Max / BBC, and Hulu’s Four Weddings And A Funeral. Film credits include My Happy Ending opposite Andie MacDowell and Miriam Margolyes, directed by Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit. 

Rakhee plays the eighth Doctor’s companion, Bliss, in Big Finish’s Doctor Who: Time War audio dramas. She was nominated for Best Serial Drama performance at the 2016 National Television Awards for her work on Eastenders

Carmel Winters plays Baby.  Carmel Winters is an award-winning playwright, and filmmaker. Their plays include B for Baby, (Winner of Irish Times Irish Theatre Award Best New Play), The Remains of Maisie Duggan (both premiered at the Abbey, Ireland’s National Theatre), Best Man, Witness, and others performed at the Everyman Cork, Project Arts Centre Dublin, and venues throughout Ireland and beyond.  They wrote and directed two internationally acclaimed feature films, Snap (Variety Critic’s Choice Award, Karlovy-Vary) and Float Like A Butterfly (Winner of the Fipresci International Critics Prize at Toronto International Film Festival), and is currently completing The Art of Dying, a film about rewilding oneself.  They have performed/devised with a guerilla queer theatre collective and occasionally perform their own plays. Stepping into this professional ensemble as an actor is a new adventure in perimenopausal reinvention of selves. They live in west Cork with their wife Toma, step-grandchildren Oscar and Josh, and their three dogs Daisy, Vida, and Lucky.  


Tickets priced from £20 (concessions available) can be booked at or at the Box Office on 020 8743 5050.


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