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Regional premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s Guards at the Taj

Luke Murphy (Babur) and Devesh Kishore (Humayun)

The final Studio show of Theatre by the Lake’s 2019 Summer Season, Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph, is in rehearsals and will complete the theatre’s Summer Season of six rep plays when it opens on Thursday 8 August.

Guards at the Taj originally premiered in New York, with the Hollywood Reporter calling it ‘an exquisite piece of writing’. The European premiere of the play in London launched the Bush Theatre’s new building in 2017, where it was described as ‘a fable for our times’ (WhatsOnStage).

As dawn breaks on the final day of construction of the Taj Mahal, two hapless Imperial Guards must once again resist the urge to look at the most beautiful monument the world has ever seen – by order of the Emperor.

As first light hits the pure white domes, this proves harder than it sounds and friends Humayun and Babur are about to discover that beauty comes at a terrible price.

Brutal, audacious and wickedly funny, this is an award-winning tale about beauty, the powerful and the powerless.

Rajiv Joseph is an acclaimed American playwright. His play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and was also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. He has twice won the Obie Award for Best New American Play, for Guards at the Taj (also a 2016 Lortel Winner for Best Play) and for Describe the Night.  In television, Rajiv has written for seasons four and five of Nurse Jackie, and is a writer on the upcoming Apple TV series Little America.

Theatre by the Lake’s production of Guards at the Taj is directed by Kash Arshad, trainee Artistic Director at Freedom Studios in Bradford, who was the assistant director on TBTL’s smash-hit show Handbagged in Summer Season 2017. The show features a cast of two: Luke Murphy as Babur, and Devesh Kishore as Humayun.

“Guards at the Taj is a beautifully insightful, funny, harrowing and sometimes brutal play,” said director Kash Arshad. “Although it’s set in 1648, Rajiv’s play is more relevant now than ever; examining our idea of beauty, privilege, art and societal hierarchy. For me though, it’s the exploration of Babur and Humayun’s friendship and their deep bond that is so wonderfully realised that makes this story universal.”

Actor Devesh Kishore added: “Humayan is a fascinating character with so many contradictions and internal battles; it has been great fun unpicking him, he really has a rollercoaster of a journey. Rehearsals have been a joy, it’s just a two hander so the process has been very intimate and intense with only four of us in the room at any time. I was born and raised in London so coming to Keswick was very different but I really couldn’t think of a more beautiful place to be working.”

Guards at the Taj plays in Theatre by the Lake’s Studio from 8 August to 2 November. The show is already proving a popular choice, so booking early is recommended. Tickets are from £10; for more information and to book visit or call the Box Office on 017687 74411.

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