Philippa Lawford on her play Ikaria: ‘It was fun to remember the intensity of uni relationships’

Philippa Lawford in rehearsals
Philippa Lawford in rehearsals. Photo: Ian McIlgorm

Philippa Lawford’s play Ikaria follows the relationship of Simon and Mia, two university students with different ideas about what they want from university. Simon wants to get through his final exams while first-year student Mia is finding herself away from home and embracing freshers-life.

James Wilbraham plays Simon opposite Andrea Gatchalian as Mia with Izzy Parriss as associate director, lighting design by Shane Gill and sound design by Laurie Blundell.

The show received a runner-up award for the 2022 ATG/Platform Presents Playwrights’ Prize, an OFFIE Short Run Commendation, and came in at number two of Broadway World’s ‘Best Theatre of 2022’ list with the publication praising Lawford’s debut as ‘theatrical gold.’

As well as writing, Lawford has been directing Fringe plays and has worked as an assistant director on Saviour at Jermyn Street Theatre and acting as a reader for Finborough Theatre’s ETPEP Award. She also directs Ikaria.

Following a tour that began in September at Theatre@41 in York, visiting Mold, Guildford, Belfast, St Albans and Whitley Bay, Ikaria makes its final stop at London’s Park Theatre next week. Ahead of the London run we spoke with Lawford about the play, the tour and bringing it home to London.

Q&A with Philippa Lawford

What can you tell us about Ikaria and the inspiration behind it?

Ikaria is set at university and so I was inspired by my experience as a student. Moving out of home and suddenly having the freedom of your own room with no rules is very exciting. The play is about a romantic relationship, and it was fun to remember the intensity of uni relationships where life is compacted into a small single room.

What was it like to tour the play nationally?

The tour has been a great experience and we’ve been fine-tuning the play as we encounter different audiences. We have learnt a lot about what works about the play as we’ve had to adapt it for various theatres. We have a small and very talented team who have been able to make a lot of adjustments on the fly when we’ve needed to.

The cast in rehearsals
The cast in rehearsals. Photo: Jake Bush

How did it feel to pick up a runner-up award for the 2022 ATG/Platform Presents Playwrights’ Prize as well as an OFFIE Short Run Commendation?

It was lovely to receive both of these – I’m really proud of the show so the awards have
definitely helped us reach more people with it.

You’re about to see a run at London’s Park Theatre – how does it feel to be taking the play to

Everyone in the team lives in London so we are looking forward to doing the show to
audiences that include our friends and family. The Park is such an incredible venue so we are
thrilled to be presenting Ikaria there.

Finally, what do you think audiences will take away from the play?

I think that audiences find the play moving and relatable. I want it to remind them of their time at university or as young adults. We have tried to make every element of the story as believable as possible so that audiences feel as though they are looking through a window at a real world.

Ikaria is at the Park Theatre from 28 November to 2 December