A woman in vivid pink Victorian dress stands confident and cocksure with her hand on her hip, surrounded by four drag kings in tail coats. Two of the drag kings wear top hats, another has Afro hair style and another a long flowing mullet. The four drag kings variously hold paintbrushes, an empty picture frame and messy paint palettes.

Photo by Jessica Zschorn

A Middle Child production in collaboration with Milk Presents


Written by Ellen Brammar
Music by Rachel Barnes
Directed by Luke Skilbeck and Paul Smith

Music hall, theatre and drag king swagger collide as Modest brings you Elizabeth Thompson – megastar of the Victorian art scene.

In 1874 Elizabeth stuns the Royal Academy with her painting, Roll Call. Five years later, she falls two votes short of becoming the first woman elected to the academy.

In between, she must shoulder the hopes and dreams of women across the country, while fighting for her place at a table full of top hats, ties and mutton chop beards.

Performed by a cast featuring the UK’s hottest drag talent, this electrifying new play will break your heart and start a revolution.

Written by Ellen Brammar (I Hate Alone) with music by Rachel Barnes, Modest is a good night out co-directed by Luke Skilbeck (Milk Presents) and Paul Smith (Middle Child). It features movement direction by Tamar and Jo, set design by QianEr Jin, costume design by Terry Herfield and sound design by Eliyana Evans.

Modest is a collaboration between Hull-based Middle Child and artist-led Milk Presents (JOAN, Trans Filth and Joy), two award-winning companies, developed with the support of the National Theatre’s Generate programme.


Age recommendation: 14+

Running time: 2hr 20m, including an interval

Content warnings: strong language, misogyny, detailed description of combat injuries, trans themes and body dysmorphia. See our content notes page for a more detailed plot summary.


Hull Truck Theatre, Hull

23-27 May

Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

9-10 June

Northern Stage, Newcastle

12-13 June

New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

16-17 June

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

19-21 June

Slung Low Warehouse, Holbeck

23 June

Kiln Theatre, London

29 June – 15 July


“Rollicking piece of gig theatre… stonking performances and stunning singing”

The Guardian


“Brammar’s exceptional piece uses a potent mix of drag, searing comedy, indignant fury and tenderness”

The Stage


“Hugely pleasurable watch… delivers punch after punch”



Photos by Tom Arran



Isabel Adomakoh Young in Modest
Isabel Adomakoh Young

RA Three/Frances/Hanging Committee

Jacqui Bardelang in Modest
Jacqui Bardelang


Emer Dineen in Modest
Emer Dineen


LJ Parkinson in Modest
LJ Parkinson

RA One/Mary

Fizz Sinclair in Modest
Fizz Sinclair

Alice/RA Two

Libra Teejay in Modest
Libra Teejay

Bessie/Queen Vic

Creative and Production Team


Ellen Brammar

Composer and Musical Director

Rachel Barnes


Luke Skilbeck
Paul Smith

Assistant Director

Prime Isaac

Set Designer

QianEr Jin

Movement Directors

Tamar and Jo Dance Company

Costume Designer

Terry Herfield

Associate Costume Designer

Sian Thomas

Sound Designer and Music Producer

Eliyana Evans

Sound Engineer

Tom Smith

Lighting Designer

Jessie Addinall


Matthew May


Bellaray Bertrand-Webb

Stage Manager

Jay Hirst

Deputy Stage Manager

Danielle Harris

Company Stage Manager

Shona Wright

Production Manager

Emily Anderton

Sensitivity Reader


Modest is supported by:

We also wish to thank the following people and organisations for their support in creating Modest:

Lindsey Alvis, Alice Beaumont, Leila Bertrand, Emma Bright, Alex Brook, Tommi Bryson, Hattie Callery, Kaja Chan, Sophie Clay, Critical Fish, Rachel Dale, Fatt Projects, Adam Foley, Lucy Foy, Fly Girl Films, Emma Hassall, Tilly Hirst, HPSS, Annie Kirkman, Rozzy Knox, Adrian McDougall, Finlay McGuigan, Jodie Mitchell, Anna Mitchelson, Jess Morley, Nenda Neururer, Nick Hern Books, Freya Noman, Evie Osbon, Alice Palmer, Alan Plews at Top Show, Jow Rose, Breon Snowden, sobananapenguin, Nigel Taylor and Jessica Zschorn.