All events

Ovalhouse and The Art Machine present

Created by Urban Wolf and written by Tom Wainwright

Another young black man dies in police custody.

Apparently no-one is to blame.

In 2016 how can that be so?

  • Wheelchair Access
  • 28 March – 8 April, Tues-Sat 7.45pm (no performances Sunday or Monday) Preview Tues 28 March


  • Full: £14
  • Concession: £8
  • Preview: £8

Running time: 70 minutes

Venue: Downstairs

Book /  Box office: 020 7582 7680

Custody, a play created by young black performer Urban Wolf and written by veteran Tom Wainwright (Banksy: the Room in the Elephant), is a contemporary fictional narrative about the moment a young black man's life is taken from him by the enforcers of a system that is meant to be there to protect him. It follows his bereaved family's struggle for justice and resolution, and asks: who will protect us from the protectors of society?

Inspired by Migrant Media’s cult documentary films Injustice and Who Polices the Police, the play draws on the real life experiences of families who have suffered from police injustice. Its exploration of the way young black men are treated by the police in Britain today draws directly from stop and searches experienced by Urban Wolf.

Suitable for ages 14+

Join us to discuss Custody after the show on Thurs 6 April​! A relaxed and informal gathering over a glass of wine, *Discuss gives our audience the opportunity to lead the conversation. Find out more here.


  • Tue 28 Mar, 7:45pm
  • Wed 29 Mar, 7:45pm
  • Thu 30 Mar, 7:45pm
  • Fri 31 Mar, 7:45pm
  • Sat 1 Apr, 7:45pm
  • Tue 4 Apr, 7:45pm
  • Wed 5 Apr, 7:45pm
  • Thu 6 Apr, 7:45pm
  • Fri 7 Apr, 7:45pm
  • Sat 8 Apr, 7:45pm

Urbain Hayo - Lead Creative, Actor (Brian's Brother)

Urbain is the Artistic director of The Art Machine. He has primarily worked as an actor in the theatre but has now ventured into writing, producing and fine art. His work focuses on telling stories that challenge and change society. Custody is Urbain's first play that has been produced.


Tom Wainwright - Co-Writer

Tom was selected for the Royal Court theatre’s exclusive Young Writers Programme in 2010 and was invited back the same year for their autumn studio group. Tom is a writer and performer based in Bristol. Writing credits include Emo (ATC/Bristol Old Vic Young Company), Hansel and Gretel and 10W2 (Theatre Royal Bath), The Egg – Urban Arts and Shakespeare Unplugged respectively), Run and Fallen (Bristol Old Vic Young Company) and Come to Where I’m From (Paines Plough).


Gbemisola Ikumelo - Director

Gbemisola is an award-winning actress and director and is the founder of FAITH Drama Productions. In 2011 Gbemisola won the John Fernald award for emerging directors and has since written and directed a number of projects for stage and film. Theatre credits include: ‘Life on the Stairs’ which toured nationally over 3 years; ‘The Fiddler’, which ran successfully at the Unicorn Theatre; and 'Next Door', which premiered at The Cockpit Theatre. She also directed a short adaptation of 'The Rise and Shine of Comrade Fiasco', which was performed at the Royal National Theatre.


Cindy Claes - Movement Director

Born and raised in Belgium, Cindy moved to London in 2005.  Her artistic journey kept expanding during her numerous adventures as a dance backpacker.  She has researched her artistry and craft extensively over the years and has travelled to Africa, the U.S.A., the Caribbean and all over Europe, collecting invaluable experiences along the way.


John Russell Gordon - Dramaturge

John R Gordon is a multi-award-winning novelist, graphic artist, playwright and screenwriter of gay black lives, and has been nominated for a NAACP Image Award. He is a founder-member of Rikki Beadle-Blair's Team Angelica and runs their book imprint. With Rikki, for the past seven years, he has mentored diverse LGBT and BAME playwrights through their Angelic Tales new writers' scheme at Theatre Royal Stratford East and seen some of those writers go on to real success. He regularly mentors and dramaturgs up-and-coming playwrights, screenwriters and novelists. His most recent novel - his sixth - is ‘Souljah’.


Thomas Kell - Producer

Thomas Kell is a theatre producer and consultant. He began his career with Theatre Centre and served as the administrative director of Tiata Fahodzi for seven years. He is currently supporting a range of companies and projects including Pursued by Bear, the Elufowoju Jr Ensemble, Tangle and Faith Drama. Thomas is delighted to be helping to produce 'Custody'. This is a play of urgency and importance, and deeply worthy of support from every sector of society.


Shabazz Graham - Filmmaker

Shabazz L. Graham is a visionary director and skilled editor with over 20 years experiences in the UK creative industry. He is the Head of Post Production at Salt TV, a leading advertising film production company, based in London's creative centre Soho. Shabazz works to evoke emotion in every production he is a part of. In 2016 he launched Emotive Narrative, a collaboration and consultation group which helps storytellers communicate their ideas better through understanding the power of human emotions.

Additional information

Custody is a theatre project led by The Art Machine, in collaboration with story consultancy group Emotive Narrative and award-winning theatre company FAITH Drama Productions, with the support of the legendary Theatre Royal Stratford East. 

An Ovalhouse Co-Production.

Book /  Box office: 020 7582 7680

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