Buttercup is presented as part of BBC Lights Up; a major festival of UK theatre adapted for TV and radio at a time when theatres throughout the UK are closed. Continuing its Culture in Quarantine initiative – bringing arts and culture into the nation’s homes – BBC Arts has partnered with theatres across the country to produce this unprecedented season of 18 plays for audiences at home.

Buttercup is the story of a young woman strong enough to finally make herself heard. She is live-streaming an informal spoken word gig to her online followers. As she takes the mic, she desperately hopes that her audience will include the one person who needs to hear her truth: her Mum.

Buttercup shares her story with music and memories weaving back and forth across two decades and two continents. From a vulnerable little girl in a bedroom in Kinshasa, to a bold young woman partying and performing in Liverpool. Only now is she ready to revisit a past that she has locked away, to recognise the power behind her mother’s warnings, and to accept the truth that… she was never to blame.

Buttercup is the debut play written and performed by Liverpool-based Congolese singer, songwriter, and actor Dorcas Seb, and created with 20 Stories High from an original idea by Odile Mukete. Buttercup is the company’s second BBC commission, following I Told My Mum I Was Going on an R.E. Trip, originally presented by BBC’s Performance Live in 2018 and re-released on iPlayer as part of the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine series.

Commissioned for film by BBC Arts as part of its Lights Up festival and The Space, Buttercup is co-produced by 20 Stories High and Tigerlily Films. Based on an original idea by Associate Producer Odile Mukete. It was directed by Julia Samuels (co-Artistic Director of 20 Stories High), and produced by Jenny Monks (Tigerlily) and Leanne Jones (20 Stories High).


  • Ade Ajibade as Carla
  • Emmanuela Yogolelo as Mother
  • Dorcas Sebuyange as Fortune
  • Gabrielle Ellison as Evie
  • Writer – Dorcas Sebuyange
  • Producer – Jennifer Monks
  • Producer – Leanne Jones
  • Director – Julia Samuels

Lights Up – Buttercup airs on BBC Four at 22:40 tonight (Wednesday 14 April 2021)

By Eastieoaks

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