Ciphers at Salisbury Playhouse

Grainne Keenan and Ronny Jhutti in Ciphers. Picture: Robert Workman

Grainne Keenan and Ronny Jhutti in Ciphers. Picture: Robert Workman

First published in Entertainments by

A THRILLER about spies, double agents and subterfuge is coming to Salisbury Playhouse next week.

Ciphers is about two sisters – Justine, who is found dead, and Kerry, who sets out to find out what happened and who her sister really was.

Playwright Dawn King was inspired by the story of MI6 spy Gareth Williams, whose body was found in a padlocked bag in 2010.

“There were just so many strange stories in the press about it and I was aware the family would want to know what had happened to him,” she said. “This mystery, and never being able to find the truth, was a good place to start a play and so I had the idea to write about two sisters; their stories mingling in the narrative.”

As part of her research, King read many books about people involved in MI5 and MI6, as well as newspaper reports and work by conspiracy theorists.

“I read a wide spread of different opinions and I think whatever you read about the secret service can only be taken so far,” she said. “Lots of things are being hidden because you are not being told, of course – because it is the secret service.”

The play, produced by Out of Joint, has so far been well received, selling out in London.

It is directed by Blanche McIntyre, who also directed King’s debut play, Foxfinder.

“It’s very different to Foxfinder, which was a dark parable set in the countryside, with a linear narrative and in an alternative world,” said King. “This play is set in the here and now, and the chronology is fractured – jumping around in time. It feels different and that’s good because I think you should always be doing different things.”

* Ciphers is at The Salberg, Salisbury Playhouse, from Tuesday to Saturday. For tickets, visit salisburyplayhouse.com or call the box office on 01722
320333.

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