Sam Mendes to direct new Jez Butterworth play in London’s West End

The show, opening next January, will be one of the most anticipated productions of 2024

Ellie Muir
Wednesday 11 October 2023 12:15 BST
Sam Mendes and Jez Butterworth
Sam Mendes and Jez Butterworth (Getty Images)

A new play by Jerusalem playwright Jez Butterworth,The Hills of California, will open in London’s West End in early 2024.

British film and stage director Sam Mendes, who is best known for his work The Lehman Trilogy, The Motive and the Cue, will direct the play.

Many details are still unannounced – including what will presumably be a very starry cast – but some things are certain: the play is most definitely not set in California. The Hills of California is set in Blackpool in the sweltering summer of 1976 and follows the Webb sisters as they reunite to visit their dying mother for one last time.

It will be produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and Neal Street Productions and will run from 27 January to 15 June 2024 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London.

Leading British director Mendes, who won an Oscar in 1999 for American Beauty and was behind James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre, has found it hard to keep away from the stage recently. In December, his production of Jack Thorne’s The Motive and the Cue – a love letter to theatrical greats John Gielgud and Richard Burton – will transfer to the West End, while his award-winning production of banking drama The Lehman Trilogy returned to London after a hit Broadway run at the start of the year.

Butterworth, meanwhile, has been working on screen projects recently, including the Prime Video comedy Mammals, which starred James Corden. Jerusalem, frequently named as one of the greatest British plays of the 21st century, was revived in the West End last year by Friedman, with Mark Rylance reprising his acclaimed performance as eccentric local character Johnny “Rooster” Byron.

The production is a reunion for Mendes and Butterworth, who had a major hit on their hands with 2017 play The Ferryman. The play, in which Paddy Considine starred as a man haunted by his IRA past, was staged at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2017, before it was transferred to the West End and later Broadway the following year; Mendes won an Olivier Award and a Tony Award for Best Director.

For The Hills of California, there will be 1,000 tickets made available at £10 to NHS and key workers, those who are in receipt of government benefits, educational groups, community organisations, and those who currently access food banks.

Tickets forThe Hills of California will be released via the show’s website on 20 October.

Sign up for pre-sale access to tickets at, on sale from Wednesday 18 October.

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