Jodie Whittaker and Jessica Gunning added to cast of ‘unique’ theatre show

Former Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker and Baby Reindeer’s Jessica Gunning are among the actors added to the cast of a “unique” theatre show.

Echo, which stands for Every Cold-Hearted Oxygen, at the Royal Court Theatre in London, will see different actors take to the stage each night to perform a script they have never seen before.

The show will run as part of London’s international festival of theatre (Lift) from Saturday, July 13 to Saturday, July 27.

Jessica Gunning in a red dress
Jessica Gunning will perform in Echo at the Royal Court Theatre (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Whittaker played the title character in Doctor Who from 2017 to 2022, while Gunning shot to fame this year for her starring role as Martha Scott in Baby Reindeer.

Monica Dolan, who played Rose West in Appropriate Adult, Hustle star Adrian Lester, and Ted Lasso actor Nick Mohammed, are also among the stars added to the cast.

Dolan said: “Hearing the story for the first time at the same time as telling it is something rarely experienced by an actor.

“It takes us all the way back to how Shakespeare’s actors must have experienced his plays the first time they played and heard them.”

Pinocchio actor Shelia Atim, Slave Play writer Jeremy O. Harris, Mega Awesome Super Hacks star Mawaan Rizwan, and Dirty Pretty Things star Benedict Wong, will also join the performance of the show.

One final special guest performer is yet to be revealed for the show, which is written by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour, and directed by Omar Elerian.

The performance is said to “confront what it feels like to be an immigrant in time”, where no one travels “yet everybody can be present”.

Rizwan, who created the BBC Three comedy Juice, said: “I love the work Omar and Nassim are doing.

“As an actor it’s a perfect mixture of exciting, innovative and terrifying.”

Previously confirmed performers include British singer Self Esteem, real name Rebecca Lucy Taylor, Mr Bates Vs The Post Office star Toby Jones, Fiona Shaw from Killing Eve, Olivier Award-winning actress Kathryn Hunter and Meera Syal from Goodness Gracious Me.

Syal, who was awarded a Bafta fellowship in May 2023, added: “I had the pleasure of working with Nassim Soleimanpour on Red Rabbit White Rabbit and it is simply a unique theatrical adventure for both actor and audience.”