China Plate and Staatstheater Mainz present

A Family Business

A show about how not to blow up the planet.


Run time: 90 minutes

Age: 14+

Content warnings: Strong language, flashing lights and haze and the themes of nuclear warfare.

A man sitting at a coffee table, holding a mug, with a yellow teapot on the table with smoke escaping.

The Stage

4 stars

Morning Star

4 stars

Broadway World

4 stars

"Firing on all cylinders and never missing the mark ★★★★ "

North West End UK

A man and woman stand on stage beneath a structure made of cables and wires which hang from the ceiling. Some of the wires trail down to the stage. The structure is lite up, creating shadows on the floor of the stage. The woman is holding a bunch of flowers.

A Family Business

Written and performed by Chris Thorpe
Directed by Claire O’Reilly
Developed with Rachel Chavkin and Lekan Lawal

We don’t really talk about nuclear weapons much.

Even though they accompany us everywhere.

Invisible guests in cafés, on the shelves of supermarkets, in line at the cash machine.

Guests that could destroy all of that and more in a second.

A Family Business is about diplomats, activists, and a journey to change the world. If these weapons could wipe out all our tomorrows, then why aren’t we all talking about them today?

★★★★ “Utopian, activist piece of theatre” – The Stage

★★★★ “…essential viewing” – Morning Star

★★★★ “…a testament to the transformative power of theatre in addressing the pressing issues of our time.”Broadway World

★★★★“Chris Thorpe is engaging from the moment we enter the space.” Curtain Call Reviews

★★★★“…unashamedly frank about the reality of our volatile, fragile existence, and the challenges that face those working for change.”London Theatre 1

★★★★ “…the play offers us hope. We can change things by standing up to these nuclear power countries with our collective voice around the world.” – The Artiscape

“A Family Business is brilliant. A show which encourages us to be part of the urgent conversation and action for the sake of present and future generations. A show full of hope and humanity” Véronique Christory, Senior Arms Adviser for the International Committee of the Red Cross at the United Nations

For a further insight into the origination of the show, Chris did an interview with Louis Reitmann for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, available on Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists website here. Chris was also interviewed by Staatstheater Mainz’s Chief Dramaturg Jörg Vorhaben, which is available to read on our News & More page here.

In partnership with Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg. Supported by Warwick Arts Centre and using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Images © Rebecca Lupton & Ivan Pieri Gonzalez – picture in frame by Ahmed ElHassan [Top] Andreas J. Etter [Left]

So, what can I do now?

Alongside the performances of A Family Business, we provided a suite of resources to encourage young people to engage with the show within and outside of educational contexts. These have been designed to:

  • further understand the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons
  • enable young people to take action around this and other issues they care about.
  • demystify pathways into careers within theatre and international diplomacy.

These can be used alongside seeing the show but can also be used in isolation to support and aid discussions with young people that are studying or interested in activism and creative careers.

Visit our blog post about these resources and how to use them:

or follow the links below to access each of the individual resources:

Meet the Team: Career Chat Videos

Meet the Experts: Post Show Panel Discussion

How to Plan an Activist Event Guide

So, What Can I Do Now? Postcard

Like Confirmation & Status, A Family Business is built around the idea of the real-world effects on individual and social decision-making of the cognitive biases and stories we carry unconsciously within us. Confirmation investigated this at the level of the individual, Status at the level of the national – A Family Business expands to look at what happens when those constructed stories of nationality have to communicate with each other at a global level and at the diplomats tasked with doing that.

Confirmation and Status both won Fringe First Awards at the Edinburgh Festival (2014 & 2018) and were both selected for the British Council Edinburgh Showcase (2015 & 2019). Between them Chris has completed 6 UK tours, 4 Edinburgh Festivals, 4 London runs and international tour dates including: Berlin, Mannheim, Mainz, New York, Vienna, Athens, Porto, Brisbane, Bucharest, Beirut, Nuremberg and Luxemburg.

This is the final show in a trilogy of plays examining the intersection between our individual humanity and our politics.

Creative Team

A man singing into a microphone, against a projected backdrop.

Chris Thorpe

A critically acclaimed writer & performer; developing the final show in his trilogy with Rachel Chavkin.

Read more
  • Writer & Performer | Chris Thorpe
  • Director | Claire O’Reilly
  • Assistant Director on production | Tim Schmultzer
  • Assistant Director on production | Freya-Marie Metzger Hospi
  • Dramaturg | Rachel Chavkin & Jörg Vorhaben
  • Casting Director | Christopher Worrall
  • Designer & Costume Designer | Eleanor Field
  • Sound Designer | Anna Clock
  • Sound Associate | Adam Steed
  • Lighting & Video Designer | Arnim Friess
  • Lighting Technician | Bryn Jones
  • Production Manager | Rob Athorn
  • Support Technician | Dan Burns
  • Collaborator/Advisor | Véronique Christory
  • Youth Advisor | Zainab Rauf Tramboo
  • Assistant Producer (China Plate) | Abbie White
  • Marketing Consultant | Adele Curtis
  • Ivan Pieri Gonzalez | Designer
  • Andreas J.Etter | Photographer / Videographer
  • Rachel Bunce | Videographer
  • Resource Content Creator | Ali Eggleton
  • German Translator | Susanne Pohl
  • Captioning | Grace Courtney
  • BSL Interpreter | Karl Llorca
  • Performer (James) | Greg Barnett
  • Performer (Layla) | Efé Agwele
  • Performer (Veronique) | Andrea Quirbach

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