🎭 Ikaria
📍 Old Red Lion Theatre
🎫 PR invite


Philippa Lawford’s new play, Ikaria, is a captivating and deeply moving portrayal of mental health. The play also depicts young love and finding salvation in others.

Simon (James Wilbraham), a third-year Classics student, returns to university having taken a year out. He meets a first-year English student, Mia (Amaia Naima Aguinaga), and the pair soon become an item. The couple attracts one another, despite their differences. Simon comes from a wealthy family and is privately educated, whereas Mia attended a state school and expressed not knowing her father. Mia ambitiously seeks work experience and begins working as an Editor for the university paper. Whilst Simon struggles to write a Dissertation proposal, missing numerous deadlines. Taking place entirely in Simon’s dorm room, I felt transported back to my university days as the set so accurately resembled student halls. 

Amaia Naima Aguinaga (Mia) and James Wilbraham (Simon)
Photo by Tristram Kenton

Aguinaga and Wilbraham deliver the most authentic performances. From amusing moments to tender moments, the dialogue is very natural! I enjoyed watching Simon and Mia’s relationship, performed with excellent chemistry from the cast.

My favourite scene was Simon telling Mia about the Greek island, Ikaria, where people live until 100 years old. As they embrace, envisioning their lives in this utopia, it felt so pure. The audience is fully immersed in the character’s relationship, especially as we see their highs and lows. Lawford’s writing is flawless, and there is the right balance of humour, which does not take away from the serious themes. 

As the semester goes on, Simon’s old habits creep in; an untidy room, avoiding emails and excessive Deliveroo orders. Ikaria is strong in its depiction of depression and the varying ways it can manifest in our everyday lives. The ways it can go unnoticed. The ways in which people may say they are fine but are experiencing so much pain.

James Wilbraham (Simon)
Photo by Tristram Kenton

Lawford’s direction is impressive, and they have shown an honest representation of men’s mental health. Shane Gill’s lighting also does well to showcase the shifting moods. I did note that some transitions could have been smoother to show the change of scene. 

Wilbraham’s performance is powerful, and they brilliantly play Simon, expressing anguish and guilt in scenes that are tragic to watch. I appreciated seeing how Aguinaga displayed a range of emotions in their role as Mia. Aguinaga was convincing as the bright-eyed and enthusiastic student to then being the concerned and compassionate partner. The scenes of silence spoke volumes as we witnessed Simon’s heart-breaking ordeal.

I was grateful for the appropriate gesture from the theatre, as they had placed notes on the seats, with a list of resources for those affected by the themes explored in the play.

With a great cast, fascinating writing, and direction, Ikaria is an important play. Its portrayal of mental health is profound and unlike anything I have seen. Phillipa Lawford has made a raw, beautiful piece of theatre – I cannot wait for what they do next!

Ikaria is showing at Old Red Lion Theatre until 19th November – you can get tickets here.

If you are affected by the themes in this play, concerned about your health or a loved one, here is some information you may find useful:

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)
📞 0800 58 58 58
CALM website

Papyrus – for people under 35
📞 0800 068 41 41
📱 Text 07860 039967
📧 pat@papyrus-uk.org
Papyrus website

📞 116 123
📱 Text SHOUT to 852558
📧 jo@samaritans.org
Samaritans website

📞 NHS ‘111