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Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Simon McBurney, Complicité

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, is this festival’s opening piece, an enchanting thriller about activism, toxic masculinity, our relationship with animals and the power of poetry.

What does it mean to live in harmony with the universe, and what are the dangerous consequences if we lose our connection with nature? On a remote Polish mountainside, men from the local hunting club are dying under mysterious circumstances. One of the villagers, the eccentric Janina Duszejko, has been watching the animals’ behaviour and has her suspicions about the link between the animals and the deaths. 

Director and Holland Festival favourite Simon McBurney and his company Complicité are known for their innovative use of technology on stage (The Encounter, Holland Festival 2016), which makes for stunning experiences. They bring Janina Duszejko’s extraordinary world to life in a convincing, awe-inspiring way. This woman in her sixties living in a remote village in the Polish mountains - who believes everything that happens in life can be explained through astrology - is based on the main character in Polish writer and Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk’s novel of the same name.  

'a magnificent Complicité creation'
- The Guardian ★★★★★

'The production wonderfully brings to life the dry comedy and compelling strangeness of the original text.'
- Evening Standard ★★★★

Due to illness, the role of Janina Duszejko will be performed by Amanda Hadingue and Tamzin Griffin will join the ensemble. 


Thu June 1 2023 7:00 PM

Fri June 2 2023 7:00 PM

Sat June 3 2023 7:00 PM


  • default including drink from € 32,50
  • HF Young € 20
  • CJP/student/scholar € 15,50
  • series ticket from € 26,10

language & duration

  • English surtitles: Dutch

  • 3 hours 20 minutes (met 1 pauze)

  • Olga Tokarczuk, writer

    © Łukasz Giza

  • Simon McBurney, director

    © Jorri Kristjánsson

  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead - artwork

    © Patryk Hardziej





  • © Mark Brenner


adapted from the novel by Olga Tokarczuk direction Simon McBurney set design Rae Smith costume design Rae Smith light design Paule Constable sound design Christopher Shutt video Dick Straker additional direction Kirsty Housley dramaturgy Laurence Cook, Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre movement direction Toby Sedgwick original music Richard Skelton assistant director Gemma Brockis associate costume design Johanna Coe wig design Susanna Peretz original novel translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones casting Amy Ball CDG cast Thomas Arnold, Johannes Flaschberger, Amanda Hadingue, Kathryn Hunter, Kiren Kebaili-Dwyer, Weronika Maria, Tim McMullan, César Sarachu, Sophie Steer, Alexander Uzoka production Complicité coproduction Barbican London, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Bristol Old Vic, Comédie de Genève, Holland Festival, Holland Festival, l’Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, The Lowry, The National Theatre of Iceland, Oxford Playhouse, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, Theatre Royal Plymouth

This performance is made possible by