Tag Archives: Royal Court

“The Art of Dying” by Nick Payne

at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs

A better name for Nick Payne’s new solo show might be The Art of Lying. Throughout the monologue, the three stories Payne tells consider the various ways we lie to one another as life comes to an end. It’s a short, simple piece, and though it doesn’t contain the complexity of some of his earlier work, Payne delivers three affecting and heartfelt stories about the fraught relationship between death and truth.

Sat on a yellow plastic chair in front of a makeshift skyline of blue-lit medicine bottles, Payne begins the piece with the story of Maggie Noonan from Milton Keynes, who contracts a degenerative disease which forces her to split up with her partner and move into a home. Continue reading “The Art of Dying” by Nick Payne

“Adler & Gibb” by Tim Crouch

at the Royal Court Theatre, Thursday 26th June 2014


I love how proud Tim Crouch is of John Peter’s assessment of An Oak Tree in 2007: “Some people will do anything to avoid writing a real play, possibly because they’re not sure they can.” You can find the quote in many places, not least on twitter where Crouch frequently cites it in discussion of his work. Similar things, we know, were said of Waiting for Godot and Blasted, so Crouch is in good company. What’s interesting about Adler & Gibb, however, is that it’s arguably the playwright’s most play-like play yet, and that’s not something felt only as a result of its context on the Royal Court main stage. Though formally and intellectually challenging, this is a play which has recognisable characters, a ‘proper’ set and – most strikingly of all – genuine emotional journeys. Its not that these things are absent from Crouch’s earlier work, of course, merely that here they are more visibly on the surface. Continue reading “Adler & Gibb” by Tim Crouch

“Let The Right One In”, “Under The Skin”, and Scotland

April Fool’s Day is a joke. It seems the only people who even care about the whole sorry charade are those working in the media, and even then they do so with a listlessness and lack of conviction. This year, however, was one of the worst I remember. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of stories this year took aim at the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, with everyone from The Daily Mail to The Guardian joining in on the ‘fun’. What’s so sad about this, however, is that it is demonstrative of the lack of genuine debate in England about this huge, important thing which is looming and which could bring with it massive changes in identity, economy and government. The plethora of April Fool’s stories about the notion of Scottish independence highlight the extent to which our media view it as just that: a joke. Continue reading “Let The Right One In”, “Under The Skin”, and Scotland

“Not I; Footfalls; Rockaby” by Samuel Beckett

at the Royal Court Theatre, Friday 17th January 2013

…. out… of the darkness… a mouth… higher than we thought… muttering something… something about the world… what?… hell?… yes, maybe hell… speeding through… the… speeding through the wor-… the mouth… it clicks… claps… titters… the darkness consumes… stifling and… and… stifling and penetrating… no light like it… hard to tell whether or not the… hard to tell… clapping… mouthing the words through the blackness of… a cough… she’s a woman, a woman in the… only ten seconds gone… a voice which grates… woman in the darkness… something about God… back to the… did the light just move… something about… getting darker… unlike the darkness in… unlike the darkness in the night of the world… Continue reading “Not I; Footfalls; Rockaby” by Samuel Beckett

“The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas” by Dennis Kelly

at the Royal Court Theatre, Thursday 12th September 2013

Gorge Mastromas, the titular character of Dennis Kelly’s début at the Royal Court, lives his life according to three rules:

  1. Whenever you want something – take it.
  2. All that is required to take everything you want is absolute will and an ability to lie to the depths of your heart.
  3. The effectiveness of a lie is compromised only by your attachment to the outcome of the lie. Therefore never think of the outcome, always assume discovery, embrace each second as if it were your last. Never, ever, ever regret.

Now, much has already been written about the way in which The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas acts as a morality play of late-twentieth and early-twenty-first century selfishness and where it can lead if stretched to extremes. Continue reading “The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas” by Dennis Kelly

“Circle Mirror Transformation” by Annie Baker

at the Rose Lipman Building, Wednesday 24th July 2013

At the risk of being reductive, I realised during Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation that many plays and their productions can be reduced to three aspects; the core idea which drives the piece, the content of the play itself and its subsequent execution. In the case of CMT, the first and last of these three tenets are fulfilled brilliantly, allowing Baker to explore themes of the purpose of theatre and the consuming power of time in an extraordinarily simple way. Throughout, however, I couldn’t help feeling that though we had strong bones and a beautiful exterior, the flesh itself was not quite meaty enough.*

In a community centre, five people are playing a focus exercise at the beginning of a six-week course. Continue reading “Circle Mirror Transformation” by Annie Baker

“The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart”

created by David Greig and Wils Wilson

at the London Welsh Centre, Monday 15th July 2013

“National Theatre of Scotland cannot be held responsible in the event of any member of the audience losing their head, their heart or their very self during the course of the performance”

Last night I was a motorbike.

Part the First

During the first act of Prudencia Hart
An actor pretended I was his kart.
Falling beside me he whispered “Give me your arms”,
Then rose up behind and clamped his palms
Around my wrists.
Then proceeded to drive me, bike-like, with all sorts of twists.
For a few short seconds I was not me
But had surrendered myself to become part of theatre’s visual imagery. Continue reading “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart”