Thursday 22nd June

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Simon Callow directs a new production of Oscar® winner Christopher Hampton’s most celebrated play, The Philanthropist, at the Trafalgar Studios, starring Matt Berry, Simon Bird, Lily Cole, Charlotte Ritchie and Tom Rosenthal. This classic hit comedy features some of today’s best young comedic actors playing the roles at the age Christopher Hampton first intended. The Philanthropist is produced by Howard Panter for Trafalgar Entertainment Group, Simon Friend and Gavin Kalin.

The Philanthropist has been delighting audiences since its premiere at the Royal Court in 1970. A biting ‘bourgeois comedy’ and a fiendishly clever inversion of Moliere’s ‘The Misanthrope’, Simon Callow’s new production boasts some of today’s most exciting young stage and screen actors.

Set in a fictitious English University town, strongly evoking Oxford or Cambridge, the play follows 24 hours in the lives of a group of young academics. The action unfolds in the rooms of Philip (Simon Bird), the university’s cosseted and floundering professor of philology, for whom solace and certitude exist in complex wordplay. Out in the ‘real world’ the Prime Minister and his cabinet have been assassinated and England’s most treasured writers are being murdered one by one! Back in the cosy bubble of university life, the bachelor don anguishes over sex, marriage, anagrams and the meaning of life. Did someone suggest academics were ‘out of touch’?

When Philip hosts a dinner party, joined by his stylish and perceptive fiancée Celia (Charlotte Ritchie), his worldlier best friend Donald (Tom Rosenthal), the seductive Araminta (Lily Cole), and the wealthy and egomaniacal novelist Braham (Matt Berry), the evening sets off a chain of events which puncture the rarefied and cerebral world they inhabit. The morning after, the group is left to wade through the emotional detritus and navigate the consequences of their actions.

Acclaimed director Simon Callow says: “When Christopher Hampton’s The Philanthropist first burst onto the world, he was 23; the play was really about his contemporaries, but neither then, nor ever since, has it been cast at the right age. I’m very excited, not only to be doing the play, which I think one of the funniest, sharpest plays in the English language, but to be doing it with a group of brilliantly witty and original young actors who will reveal the play as it’s never been seen before”.

View a video preview here.

“Christopher Hampton’s finest play”
Evening Standard

“The play begins with a wickedly funny coup de theatre”
The Times

“One of the most delightful and subtle comedies of the last century”
The Stage

“A clever, witty inversion of Molière’s great comedy ‘The Misanthrope’”
The Independent

Tickets are on sale now, available from:



  • Date(s) and time:

    Monday 3 April – Saturday 22 July / Monday to Saturday: 7.30pm, matinees Thursday and Saturday: 2.30pm

  • Ticket info:

  • Phone Number:

    0844 871 7632

  • Website:

  • Area:

    Westminster SW1