oatheatre16aLondon’s Free Open-Air Theatre Season is back as part of the London Bridge City Summer Festival, offering 40,000 free tickets for great theatre within the heart of London. Running since 2003, this is still London’s only ‘free to all’ annual festival of theatre. There’s no need to book so just turn up and take a seat!

This year, Gods and Monsters Theatre are shaking things up with a new rock musical of Crime and Punishment, with songs by the legendary Toyah Willcox. This newly revamped production of this 19th century masterpiece marks the increasingly important role Russia plays in London’s economy and the way our work, social and cultural life is enriched by a strong Eastern European presence in our capital.

Published in 1866 Dostoyeksky’s Crime and Punishment is one of the most famous and influential novels in world literature. When an idealistic student kills a ruthless money lender, who terrorises the poor of St. Petersburg, the novel challenges us to ask if murder is ever justified. Rock music works as the perfect medium to express the energy, rebellion and passion of the story. Fittingly this new musical production, adapted and directed by Phil Willmott, will feature specially written songs and favourite tracks by British rock legend, Toyah Willcox and her song-writing partner Simon Darlow.

Toyah was the Punk Princess of the 1980s with a song-writing career that has spanned thirty years and includes eight Top 40 singles and over 20 albums keeping her at the cutting edge of counter-culture. The prestigious career of her song writing partner, Simon Darlow, has included creating and co-creating hits for artists such as Grace Jones (Slave to the Rhythm), Dollar and Buggles, as well as writing the current Premier League Anthem. He has been writing with Toyah since 1978 their most recent collaboration being her latest album In the Court of the Crimson Queen.

Toyah Willcox comments, Who could resist this chance to help introduce theatre-goers, great literature and steam punk all in the one show, performed for free to such a huge and multi-cultural audience, in this iconic, beautiful venue? The on-going work of Gods and Monsters to create vibrant, powerful productions that bring London’s diverse communities together under the stars is a perfect fit with my life-long philosophy of performance for all. Capturing the spirit of Dostoyevsky’s alienated characters has been a wonderful challenge and I’m excited that this collaboration will engage tens of thousands of people with this extraordinary novel in so fresh and enticing a way and is totally fitting with my musical work.

Phil Willmott says, It’s great to be back! Our surveys tell us that a significant percentage of our audience are new to theatre and to many of the masterpieces of world literature so it is with particular pleasure that we look forward to introducing them to Crime and Punishment. I’m particularly excited that we’re collaborating with Rock legend Toyah Willcox and Simon Darlow whose impactful, timeless roster of hits and new songs, so perfectly match the raw, urgent energy of Dostoyevsky’s characters and message.

A children’s show will also be announced as part of the summer season.

For a decade and a half, Gods and Monsters have created award-winning theatre inspired by the diverse cultures of those around them. The theatre season is part of London Bridge City Summer Festival which runs 1st June – 31st October 2016.