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Preview: Rattle Snake 2018 UK tour

Award Winning Drama Returns
Open Clasp and Live Theatre present:
Rattle Snake 2018 UK tour

New play tackling coercive controlling domestic abuse from the makers of critically-acclaimed prison drama Key Change

A sharp, moving and unflinching play based on the real life stories of women who have faced and survived coercive controlling domestic abuse, Rattle Snake opens at Soho Theatre, 8-19 May before a national tour.

Photo Keith Pattison
The follow up to the critically-acclaimed Key Change, winner of the prestigious Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award, The Best New Writing Award from the North East Theatre Guide and a New York Times Critics’ Pick, Rattle Snake is written by Catrina McHugh MBE and directed by Charlotte Bennett, associate director at Soho Theatre.

Photo Keith Pattison
Coinciding with the change in UK law in 2015 making coercive control in relationships a crime, Rattle Snake was originally developed as part of a training programme for frontline police officers in Durham.

Durham Police, Crime & Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “This play was an innovative approach to training here in Durham. It provided front-line officers with a unique opportunity to learn through theatre, so that they would further understand coercive control in domestic abuse, and the day-to-day incidents which victims suffer though this appalling crime.”

Photo Keith Pattison
As with Key Change which was created with women serving at HMP Low Newton in County Durham, Rattle Snake was inspired by the women who put their trust in Open Clasp to tell their stories. Writer and Artistic Director Catrina McHugh MBE explains, “Rattle Snake was created by Open Clasp to train frontline police officers in Co. Durham in better responding to sexual and domestic abuse, coinciding with the change in UK law in 2015 making coercive control in relationships a crime. Officers sat in bullet proof vests, daring us to make an impact and we did. During its premier in 2017, an audience member said they had never felt such a visceral response to a show before, a collective intake of breath, unable to turn away or to predict what was next. This play matters because we find ourselves in 2018, living in a world where some still feel a sense of entitlement to take away another person’s liberty, to control, threaten and annihilate. Live Theatre and Open Clasp will now take this show to audiences across the UK, with change at its heart.”

Photo Keith Pattison
As part of the tour, Open Clasp is urging audiences to take action by visiting their website ( to download their Action Toolkit, suggesting ways to join the conversation and help to combat violence against women and girls.

Christina Berriman-Dawson will play Suzy. Christina was one of the cast of four in Open Clasp’s hitplay Key Change, and has also worked with Director Charlotte Bennett at Forward Theatre. Eilidh Talman, one of the original cast members in the police training sessions, will play Jen.

Photo Keith Pattison
Director Charlotte Bennett said, “Rattle Snake is a thrilling and unsettling show which highlights the impact of coercive control on victims who no longer want to be victims but who continue to be trapped by their circumstances. It gives these women a voice and opens up a conversation about an element of domestic abuse which is widely unrecognised and seemingly ‘invisible.’ I am incredibly proud of what this show evokes in our audiences; the frustration and injustice it often makes them feel and the potential this show has to create a genuine attitude change towards a complex and vital subject.”

Photo Keith Pattison
Graeme Thompson, Creative Producer, Live Theatre added, “Live Theatre is delighted to continue its long association with Open Clasp to bring back Rattle Snake, a brilliant and important play which shook audiences to their core on its tour in 2017. Based on the true stories of women who have suffered and survived controlling relationships, this play returns at a pivotal moment where vital conversations about how to challenge coercive control, harassment and abuse are happening worldwide. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Open Clasp to present this beautiful piece of theatre, touring to Soho Theatre, London and reaching audiences (including police officers) nationally at community venues.”

Rattle Snake will open at Soho Theatre in London (8-19 May, 2018) before touring to venues including Theatre Deli, Sheffield (29 May), Gala Theatre, Durham (30 May) and Live Theatre, Newcastle (5-9 June), and to community venues, with more tour dates to be confirmed. For more information visit

Creative Team:
Writer Catrina McHugh MBE
Director Charlotte Bennett
Designer Anna Reid
Sound designer Roma Yagnik
Lighting designer Ali Hunter

Suzy: Christina Berriman Dawson
Jen: Eilidh Talman

Age Recommendation: 15+

Tour dates:

8-19 May, London Soho Theatre,

5-9 June, Newcastle Live Theatre,

Plus community venues

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