Rep Theatre to stage Midlands premiere of new ‘cost-of-living’ play

The first stage adaptation of film director Ken Loach’s gripping social drama, I, Daniel Blake, is to be staged on Westside at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

The 2016 multi-award-winning film starred Dave Johns as middle-aged Daniel, who is denied employment benefits despite being declared unfit to work by his doctor.

Dave Johns has now written the first stage adaptation of the Palme d’Or and BAFTA award-winning film, which will receive its Midland premiere at The Rep in Centenary Square from 13 to 24 June.

The play seeks to raise awareness about the true hardship of the cost-of-living crisis.

Dave said: “I was thrilled to be asked to adapt Paul Laverty’s screenplay, but I didn’t just want to put the film on stage. I wanted to update the story for 2023, making it contemporary and exploring more of single mum Katie’s journey and the family unit she forms with Daniel. To show the kindness, compassion, humour and hope that can help us through the toughest times.

“Sadly, during my research, it was disheartening to find not much had changed since the film’s release. The story is still as relevant as it was in 2016; maybe even more so now with the cost-of-living crisis making it even harder for those who are already struggling. Daniel and Katie’s story could be anyone’s.”

The role of Daniel is played by David Nellist, who appeared as Mike Stamford in Sherlock on BBC One and, more recently, in Stonehouse opposite Matthew Macfadyen on ITV. Katie will be played by Bryony Corrigan who is best known as series regular Vanessa in Mischief Theatre’s The Goes Wrong Show on BBC One.

Ken Loach, whose film credits also include Kes and Cathy Come Home, said: “This story is more relevant now than ever. And who better to put it on stage than Dave Johns, the original Daniel Blake?”

Director Mark Calvert added: “It’s a big responsibility to honour the film but also to find ways to raise awareness of the hardship huge numbers of people in our country are facing right now. For me I, Daniel Blake frames the working-class experience in modern Britain – there’s hope, humour and humanity in the story, but audiences should feel angry and outraged; I know I am.”

I, Daniel Blake is a co-production between Northern Stage, Birmingham Rep, Oldham Coliseum, English Touring Theatre, and tiny dragon Productions.

To book tickets, visit, call 0121 236 4455 or visit the box office during opening hours.


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