Meet director, Gareth Nicholls: The Monstrous Heart

News 9 Sep 2019

Directed by Gareth Nicholls, The Monstrous Heart by Oliver Emanuel is thrilling, chilling, witty and surreal, examining afresh the eternal question of whether we ever really change how we’re made.

Ahead of welcoming his latest play to our stages this Autumn we took a look at some of Gareth's previous work.

[ 3 minute read]

Gareth Nicholls. Image: David Monteith-Hodge

As director of The Monstrous Heart, this autumn will mark Gareth Nicholls’ first visit to the Stephen Joseph Theatre, but he’s been a prolific figure in Scottish theatre over the last decade. Since studying at the world-renowned Royal Conservatoire of Scotland he’s worked with the National Theatre of Scotland, and Glasgow’s The Arches, Tron Theatre and Citizens Theatre where he was Director in Residence as well as many others.

Since joining the Traverse Theatre in July 2017 as Associate Director and being appointed Interim Artistic Director on the departure of Orla O’Loughlin in December 2018, Gareth has directed two of the Traverse’s recent award-winning Festival hits, 2018’s Ulster American (which has already completed its first world tour) and 2019’s Crocodile Fever.

With a strong record of exciting, unexpected and bold work, there’s no one better to bring out the darkness and surrealist spark of Oliver Emanuel’s The Monstrous Heart.

Gareth’s most recent work as director includes...

Image: Lara Cappelli


2019, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh / Lyric Theatre Belfast

★★★★★ The Skinny | ★★★★★ Edinburgh Festivals Magazine | ★★★★★ The Reviews Hub | ★★★★★ To Do List | ★★★★★ | ★★★★★ UK Theatre Network | ★★★★★ Miro Magazine

‘It’s hard to say that director, Gareth Nicholls hasn’t captured magic’
★★★★★ The Reviews Hub

‘Gareth Nicholls’ directs a turbo-charged co-production’
★★★★ The Herald

‘Director Gareth Nicholls expertly navigates the shift in the play’s style from naturalistic family drama to full-on horror slasher’

WINNER: Best Production, Broadway World Edinburgh Festival Fringe Awards 2019

Two people sit on a sofa looking at an Oscar statue on the coffee table in front of them. They look equally stunned and fearful of the statue. Behind them, a man leans on the couch looking at the award with great pride.
Image: Mihaela Bodlovic
Image: Beth Chalmers

Ulster American

2018, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh / World Tour

★★★★★ Guardian | ★★★★★ The Times | ★★★★★ The Arts Desk

‘Gareth Nicholls directs a production that has the energy of a bullfight’
★★★★★ The Times

‘Sharply directed by Gareth Nicholls and performed with a ferocious intensity’
★★★★ The Independent

WINNER: Best Production, Best New Play, Best Actress, Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland 2019 WINNER: Scotsman Fringe First Awards 2018
WINNER: Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Awards 2018

How to Disappear

2017, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh

★★★★★ The Herald | ★★★★★ Young Perspective | ★★★★ The Scotsman

‘Gareth Nicholls’ beautifully realised production, in which there are moments of heartbreak for everyone’

★★★★★ The Herald

‘An unsettling but compelling piece of theatre, under the sure hand of Gareth Nicholls’ direction, that had folk laughing throughout’
★★★★ Edinburgh Guide

Image: Tim Morozzo
Image: Tim Morozzo


2016, Citizens Theatre Glasgow / Scottish Tour

★★★★★ The Scotsman | ★★★★★ Broadway World

‘An inspired new staging by director in residence Gareth Nicholls
The Scotsman

‘To take on such a production takes courage; to both recognise and subvert expectation takes skill; qualities here in thankful evidence’
The National

Into that Darkness

2015, Citizens Theatre Glasgow

★★★★★ Guardian | ★★★★★ The Scotsman | ★★★★★ TV Bomb

‘A superb production…magnificently captured’
★★★★★ The Scotsman

‘A production that will keep you engaged long after the house lights come up’
The Public Reviews

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