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Q&A With Ioanna Kimbook, Bitter Wheat

David Mamet’s provocative new play makes short work of those glittering statues and big hilltop signs - the former monuments of a pristine fantasy-land. In Bitter Wheat, Hollywood is a hellhole. The drama lays a notorious handful of high-rise gatekeepers bare, spurred on by a deep-rooted anger surrounding the wave of allegations about sexual misconduct, now singularly personified by that top-heavy toppled movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein. Some critics have declared it’s “too soon” and called for more depth to the leading roles and more consideration of the subject matter. Others have hailed the return of John Malkovich to the West End after 33 years away and the fast-paced interplay of Mamet’s dialogue and the small but powerful cast. You can find out where we weighed in on all this in our review, here...

This week, as Bitter Wheat begins its final showings, we were lucky enough to catch up with the exceptionally talented actress and rising star Ioanna Kimbook, who plays actress and rising star Yung Kim Li – her first role on the West End and a chance to spar with the brilliant John Malkovich, whose Weinstein-inspired, bloated lecher, Barney Fein, has sparked more than a little auditorium debate. 

You can still pick up tickets for the final showings of Bitter Wheat at the Garrick Theatre as we near the end of its 4-month run.

Read our exclusive interview with Ioanna Kimbook below!

Q&A With Ioanna Kimbook, Bitter Wheat
Ioanna Kimbook in her West End debut as Yung Kim Li
"John is by far one of the most humble and talented people I have come across..." — Ioanna Kimbook on John Malkovich.

An interview with Ioanna Kimbook (Yung Kim Li, Bitter Wheat).

We loved your performance in Bitter Wheat, providing calm dignity and humour amidst the craziness of David Mamet's dialogue. What was it like being part of this production and acting with John Malkovich? 

It was an absolute honour to work with the most amazing group of individuals. John is by far one of the most humble and talented people I have come across. I really, really admire that in a person. Being at the top of their game but still treating you like an equal and like someone you've worked with forever. We have so much fun every day and it's an endless playground with him on the stage.

Are stereotypical roles - a theme explored in Bitter Wheat - something you've experienced personally in the industry?

If by that you mean the cultural ignorance that occurs in workspaces, as my character experienced in the play then absolutely yes. When it comes to going up for parts I have to say I've been very lucky not to have been stereotyped. I think being half-Cypriot/half-Korean probably causes more confusion than stereotyping in my case.

It's a deeply provocative and relevant play – what was your first reaction to the script?

I loved the script. I had faith in David’s writing. It's a perspective and every perspective matters. I knew it would spark conversation and that's what I liked about it. 

What's next for you after Bitter Wheat closes on September 21st?

Currently got a few things in the mix, but we'll see...

Thanks so much for talking to us Ioanna!


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Jack Hudson

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