Theatre in Liverpool

Ken Loach’s Acclaimed Film I, Daniel Blake Takes Centre Stage in Liverpool

The award-winning I, Daniel Blake has been adapted for stage by Dave Johns, who played the title in the original film. More relevant now than ever, the show exposes the stark reality behind the cost-of-living crisis and is sure to ignite people’s anger when it comes to Liverpool Playhouse later this month.

Dave Johns is a multi-award-winning actor and stand-up comic who has written for theatre and radio, including the stage adaptation of Stephen King’s short story, The Shawshank Redemption. Released in 2016, I, Daniel Blake was Ken Loach’s biggest success at the UK box office film and won multiple awards including the Palme d’Or and BAFTA award for best film.

Dave Johns said: “I was thrilled to be asked to adapt Paul Laverty’s screenplay. But I didn’t just want to put the film on stage, I wanted to update the story for 2023, exploring more of single mum Katie’s journey and the family unit she forms with Daniel. To show the kindness, compassion, humour, and hope that can help us through the toughest of times.”  

With 14.5m people in the UK now living in poverty, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Poverty Report 2022, and more people than ever relying on food banks, director Mark Calvert added: “I’ve spent months volunteering at local food banks, and I can tell you that the story of I, Daniel Blake is not fiction. It is reality. For me, it frames the working-class experience in modern Britain – there’s hope, humour and humanity in the story, but audiences should feel angry and outraged; I know I am.” 

I Daniel Blake Production at Playhouse Liverpool - Photo Credit Pamela Raith Photography
Photo Credit: Pamela Raith Photography

David Nellist who plays Daniel, has appeared in Sherlock on BBC ONE with Benedict Cumberbatch and was recently in Stonehouse opposite Matthew Macfadyen on ITV. Katie is played by Bryony Corrigan, best known as series regular Vanessa in Mischief Theatre’s The Goes Wrong Show on BBC ONE. Kema Sikazwe (also known as Kema Kay) as China, a role he played in the original film. The rest of the cast are Janine Leigh who appeared alongside Joanne Froggatt in Channel 4 film In Our Name, Micky Cochrane (Billy Elliot the Musical, Curve) and Jodie Wild making her professional stage debut.  

Featuring music by Ross Millard of Sunderland post-punk band The Futureheads, and projections of government ministers’ social media posts about austerity, food banks, and child poverty, the performance is more heartfelt and relatable than ever.   

With the cost-of-living crisis and the bitter welfare system, Daniel and Katie’s story could be anyone’s. I, Daniel Blake is one of the most important stories of a generation, following a sold out spring tour and standing ovations in every venue, the production is coming to Liverpool Playhouse from Tuesday 19 to Saturday 23 September.

Tickets priced £11 to £31 are now available from I, Daniel Blake | Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse theatres.

Jonathan Caswell


Founder and Editor, Clare Deane, shares her passion for all the amazing things happening in Liverpool. With a love of the local Liverpool music scene, dining out a couple of times a week and immersing herself in to all things arts and culture she's in a pretty good place to create some Liverpool Noise.

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