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The Empress Tickets

Lyric Hammersmith

Award-winning playwright Tanika Gupta unveils the rich history of British Asians with a sweeping play set during Queen Victoria’s reign.

Compelling Historical Drama With The Empress Tickets

Discover the rich history of British Asians in Victorian England in the acclaimed play The Empress at Lyric Hammersmith. This epic story is a sweeping historical drama, a sensitive character study and a dual romance by award-winning playwright Tanika Gupta, and returns to the stage ten years after its premiere in Stratford-upon-Avon.

About The Empress Play

The year is 1887, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Sixteen year old Rani Das is an ayah (nursemaid), newly arrived at Tilbury docks. On her journey from India, Rani befriends a lascar (sailor), an Indian politician, and a royal servant who will be working at the palace. Each of them is hopeful about their new lives in Britain, and they are all about to embark on extraordinary journeys.

During this “Golden Era” of Empire, will their expectations come true, or will their paths in England be very different from what they imagined?

Tanika Gupta’s play, directed by Pooja Ghai, transfers directly from the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, where it was praised as “resonant [...] and relevant” (The Guardian) with “a cinematic sweep” (The Times). This new staging also features an updated and revised script that deepens the connections and resonances of the story a decade on, making it eminently rewatchable for new and old audiences alike.

The Empress Creative Team

The Empress is written by acclaimed playwright Tanika Gupta and directed by Pooja Ghai. It follows Gupta’s acclaimed reimagining of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, re-set and re-imagined in colonial India, that also ran at Lyric Hammersmith in 2019.

Gupta’s other works include an adaptation of Hobson’s Choice at the Young Vic in 2003, and Anita and Me, adapted from Meera Syal’s novel for Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 2015. In 2018, she won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Drama for her play Lions and Tigers, which ran at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Director Ghai’s credits include a revival of Gupta’s Hobson’s Choice at Manchester Royal Exchange, and the premiere of Lions and Tigers.

The cast of The Empress in London includes Tanya Katyal as Rani Das, Alexandra Gilbreath as Queen Victoria and Raj Bajaj as Abdul Karim.

Book Tickets for The Empress at Lyric Hammersmith Now

Travelling from India to the bustling docks of Tilbury, and all the way to the splendour of Queen Victoria’s palace, The Empress is an incredible story spanning 13 years that still resonates today. Don’t miss your chance to see this modern classic in London for four weeks only.

Sorry this show closed 28 October 2023, we recommend these similar productions.

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A View From the Bridge
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Performance dates:
27 Oct 2023 - 28 Oct 2023
Running time:
2 hours and 45 minutes including an interval.
Age recommendation:
Best for age 11+

The Empress Reviews

28 Reviews
  • 5 Stars71%
  • 4 Stars25%
  • 3 Stars0%
  • 2 Stars0%
  • 1 Stars4%

User Reviews


The quality and production value of the RSC, so you know it will be good. Set in the late Victorian era, the imposition of the present day anti colonial/anti British ideology does get tiresome. The only white people who come out well in this are a wh Read more

Performance date: 13 October 2023

What a wonderful thoughtful story. I loved the way two stories about very different women were woven together and intertwined.

Performance date: 28 October 2023

The three house passed by so quickly and we enjoyed the separate yet intertwined stories. Beautiful music too.

Performance date: 07 October 2023
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