What's been on...
Midsummer by David Greig and Gordon McIntyre
(Soho) When Helena meets Bob one rainy Edinburgh weekend, the sparks
begin to fly. This rom-com with songs is joyous, sublime, funny, weird,
satirical, feelgood and full of storytelling flourishes. Yes, I really
did like it! And so should you!
by Doug Lucie (Union) Fringe revival, by Silver Thread, of Lucie’s
1984 satire on radical sexual politics: men’s groups, political
lesbianism and emotional turmoil. A dark comedy which is prescient in
suggesting how the New Man of the Thatcher era became the New Labourite
of the 1990s.
The Whisky Taster by James Graham (Bush) Two whiz kids from a London
advertising agency ask for help in a new vodka campaign from a Scottish
whisky taster - with unexpected consequences. Lovely study of synaesthesia,
love and heartfelt emotion.
Really Old, Like Forty Five by Tamsin Oglesby (National) What
do we as a society do with our old people? In this satirical drama, part
family play and part sci-fi dystopia, a robot is the best companion for
Lyn, who suffers from dementia. But the overall show is disappointingly
Dunsinane by David Greig (Hampstead) What
happened in Scotland after the death of Macbeth? In this wonderfully imaginative
account of invasion, occupation and resistance, contemporary resonance
blends with a thrilling account of culture clash. A must see.
Off the Endz by Bola Agbaje (Royal Court)
David and Kojo can’t agree on how to get out of their deadend
estate: hard work or crime? Add Sharon, Kojo’s missus, and the three-sided
conflict soon starts to bubble: short, sharp but very enjoyable.
Disconnect by Anupama Chandrasekhar (Royal Court) Global truths:
at a call centre in Chennai, Indian workers pretend to be Americans as
they collect credit-card debt in the land of the free. Intelligent and
entertaining account of identity and the American Dream.
Mercury Fur by Philip Ridley (Picton Place)
Passionate revival of Ridley’s 2005 shock-fest in an atmospheric
found space in the middle of London. Committed acting, exciting direction
and doomy surroundings all from Theatre Delicatessen. Well worth a visit.
Moonfleece by Philip Ridley (Rich Mix) Curtis
is a fascist, but a ghost from the past makes him question his prejudices.
Powerful and exciting staging of Ridley’s large-cast 2004 youth
play, now reworked for a fresh young company. Brill.
Promises Promises by Douglas Maxwell (Soho) Maggie, a retired schoolteacher,
stands up to a local community leader who wants to publically exorcise
demons from a six-year-old girl. Ambiguous and moving monologue. Excellent.
Random by debbie tucker green (Royal Court)
Revived in a rundown shopping unit at the Elephant and Castle in south
London, this powerful monologue about a terrible knife crime is brilliantly
performed by Seroca Davis. Short but very sharp. See it!
Eigengrau by Penelope Skinner (Bush) As New Age airhead Rose chases
marketing man Mark, he falls for feminist Cassie and the needy Tim is
besotted by Rose. Welcome return for the in-yer-face
flatshare drama. Very enjoyable mix of comedy and excruciating embarrassment.
Chronicles of Long Kesh by Martin Lynch (Tricycle) Two decades
in the life of Northern Ireland’s notorious prison told from both
Republican and Loyalist points of view, with a huge panorama of voices
and some sweet soul music: a Troubles play with a difference.
The Gods Weep by Dennis Kelly (Hampstead)
When Colm, a successful mega-entrepreneur decides to divide up his
business empire, he lets loose the dogs of war and apocalyptic destruction.
Flinty mix of King Lear and Enron seen
through the lens of an in-yer-face sensibility.
Jeremy Irons stars.
Manor by Martin Murphy (Tristan Bates) In an underworld club, North
London gangsters jockey for power in a swirl of sex, violence and revenge
in this grim but powerful story from an up-and-coming playwright. Fierce
4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane (Barbican) Kane’s
legendary last play completely rewritten by Grzegorz Jarzyna of Poland’s
TR Warszawa in a mainstage production that features hysterical overacting
and much Euro-angst. It’s Kane okay, but I prefer the writer's original
to the director's cut.
Treasure/Repeat by Mark Ravenhill and Eschara
by Phillip Whiteman (Union) A double bill of six short plays that
explore the War on Terror: unremittingly bleak and dark evening performed
by a hardworking but overwrought cast. Little illumination of our darkness.
Andersen’s English by Sebastian Barry
(Hampstead) Hans Christian Andersen, who can barely speak the lingo,
visits Charles Dickens at Gad’s Hill in 1857: a meditation on Englishness,
love and loss which gets a underpowered production from Out
of Joint. Very slight indeed.
The Empire by DC Moore (Royal Court) Dateline: Helmand, 2006. A
British squaddie and a battlefield captive lock horns in a tense war drama
which explores questions of class as well as Jihad. Superbly intense production
directed by Mike Bradwell.
Posh by Laura Wade (Royal Court) As members
of the Riot Club, an elite Oxford all-male dining club, gather for a blowout,
all is not well with either the club or the nation. A brilliantly vivid
metaphor for our right-leaning, Cameron-friendly times.
Behud (Beyond Belief) by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti
(Soho) How do you dramatise an act of censorship? This revisiting
of the notorious 2004 Behzti affair is playful, imaginative and, yes,
pretty disturbing too. A really wonderful reclamation of traumatic memory.
Little Gem by Elaine Murphy (Bush) Three generations of women in
one Dublin family confront love, loss and a new life. Gloriously written
monologues in which three gobby women talk their hearts out. Lovely, warm
Airswimming by Charlotte Jones (Hen
and Chickens) Two women, Persephone and Dora, swim against the
tide to survive in a mental institution in the 1920s. Jones’s quirky,
funny and heartwarming debut play, first seen in 1997,
Love the Sinner by Drew Pautz (National) Michael, a married
lay volunteer, attends a church conference in Africa, commits an indiscretion
and finds that his religious beliefs are on a crash course with his emotional
desires. Excellent new play.
A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky by David
Eldridge, Robert Holman and Simon Stephens
(Lyric Hammersmith) The Benton family react to the imminent end
of the entire universe with a mixture of stoicism and recrimination in
this odd multi-authored play about guilt, memory and love. Unusual, but
Ditch by Beth Steel (Old Vic Tunnels) In a future Britain,
which is ruled by a fascist government, a lonely outpost witnesses the
conflicting demands of militia men and hardworking women. Strongly written
dystopia in an atmospheric space.
Canary by Jonathan Harvey (Hampstead)
Gay epic that looks at the life and loves of Tom, a top cop,
and his friends and family from the early 1960s up to the present, with
cameo glimpses of Mrs Mary Whitehouse and Mrs Margaret Thatcher. Wry,
Ingredient X by Nick Grosso (Royal Court)
A cheery, and very drunk, girls’ night in turns into a
dizzying meditation on the nature of addiction, repetition and compulsive
behaviour. Fine return to form by one of the brightest sparks of the 1990s.
by Barrie Keeffe (Young Vic) Powerful revival of this 1979 play
about a black man who is fitted up by two cops for the murder of his wife.
It hasn’t dated one bit and this bearpit version is as fierce as
it was in its original outing.
Like a Fishbone by Anthony Weigh (Bush) Confrontation
between a modernist Architect and a blind, bereaved Mother over how to
commemorate the victims of a school massacre. Religious belief clashes
with secular womanhood. Well written, but a bit too slight and short.
Sucker Punch by Roy Williams (Royal Court)
Boxing and the 1980s: two black friends take different routes
into the ring, and end up having to confront each other, and themselves.
Excellent, punchy (sorry!) play about sport and society.
Dandy in the Underworld by Tim Fountain (Soho) The life
and suicide attempts of Soho painter and dandy Sebastian Horsley, alcoholic,
drug consumer and patron of prostitutes. The self as a work of art: performed
by Milo Twomey.
Welcome to Thebes by Moira Buffini (National)
Radical rewrite of the ancient Greek myths of Antigone and Theseus.
Set in contemporary Africa, and with a politics that offers the possibilities
of change, this is a powerful vision of the irrationality of extreme violence.
Wild Horses by Nimer Rashed (503) Ellie wakes up in hospital
confused about how she got there – and about her relations with
her parents, and friends. A teen angst drama that morphs beautifully into
a strongly emotional account of loss, via a theatrically imaginative leap.
Franca by Peter Nichols (Finborough) Fun and games at a language
school in Florence for Steven Flowers, a refugee from the playwright’s
1977 classic, Privates on Parade. Sporadically amusing,
but never really compelling.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh
(Young Vic) Superb revival of this 1996
play about a mother and daughter in an Irish rural backwater: a perfect
blend of comedy and tragedy that grips you throughout. What a play! Simply
Spur of the Moment by Anya Reiss (Royal Court) Delilah,
12-year-old daughter of perma-quarrelling parents, has a crush on the
family’s 21-year-old lodger. But as the hormones kick in, can disaster
be avoided? Excellent debut from a teen playwright.
in London by Mike Bartlett (National) Epic
voyage across the metropolis as three sisters get involved in the debate
on climate change. A family drama that bursts out into sci-fi mythology.
Rupert Goold’s exceptional production not only rocks, it hip-hops
too. Best new play of the year.
Park by Bruce Norris (Royal Court) Race and property are the
themes of this play, which spans two eras, 1959 and 2009, and shows how
racial tensions remain a dampner on the aspirations of the American Dream.
Very un-PC, but really hilarious.
Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad (Old Vic Tunnels) During the
Lebanese civil war, a mother goes in search of her lost child; years later,
her children make a similar quest to find out the truth about themselves.
Great story from the world's most produced French-language playwright.
Blood and Gifts by J T Rogers (National) Afghanistan
– the 1980s. As the Soviets invade and occupy the country, CIA station
chief Jim Warnock has to deal with Russian spooks, Brit allies and the
Pakistani secret service in order to help the Afghan rebels. But will
he back the right horse?
Beautiful Burnout by Bryony Lavery (York Hall) Frantic
Assembly’s exciting production of this beautifully written boxing
tale is an inspiring example of great storytelling told in a fusion of
words, music and dance. Punch the air: wonderful, sweaty stuff.
Wanderlust by Nick Payne (Royal Court) The Richards household
is in turmoil: mum and dad’s sex life is dormant, and their teenage
son Tim is having a hormonal storm. Observant, excruciating and hilarious
study of sex and intimacy.
The Aliens by Annie Baker (Bush) KJ and Jasper are Vermont
slackers who spend their days getting high, fantasising about music, singing
songs and writing sub-beat-style novels. After they meet a young student,
things change. Tender, insightful and quietly moving.
The Big Fellah by Richard Bean (Lyric,
Hammersmith) Comic epic spanning 30 years of American support
for Irish Republicanism: set in the Bronx, it shows the recruitment of
IRA members, raising money and shipping arms. Out
of Joint production: provocative, troubling, funny.
by Lou Ramsden (503) Liv, a London teenager, is the daughter
of a couple who organise dog fights, and who limit her access to her own
baby. When she gets the chance to leave home, will she have the strength
to make the break? Powerful, gutsy drama.
The Country by Martin Crimp (Arcola)
Amelia Nicholson revives this 2000 play about an adulterous threesome,
a work which casts a cool glance on relationships, emotional truth and
word games. Superbly atmospheric evening.
What's on now
info on new writing
new writing book list
note: This website is no longer being updated: it is now an archive resource,
covering in-yer-face theatre and new writing in general over the period
from the 1990s until 2010. In due course I will set up another website,
which will continue the story.