A small boy is driving his mother to distraction – waking at night, hearing phantom noises and fixating on his absent father. When he glimpses a figure prowling the house at night, a shadow is cast which gradually strips away his childhood certainties.
This chilling and unsettling play asks demanding questions about the things we believe and their consequences.
Joe Penhall’s last play at the Royal Court was Dumb Show in 2004. His debut play, Some Voices opened at the Royal Court in 1994 winning him the John Whiting Award. He later adapted it for film, premiering at Cannes in 2000. His other credits include Blue/Orange at the National Theatre, which transferred to the West End and for which he received Olivier, Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards and Landscape with Weapons at the National Theatre. For film, he most recently adapted The Road by Cormac McCarthy. He also wrote the screenplay for Enduring Love and wrote the BBC2 detective series Moses Jones.
Director Jeremy Herrin is Associate Director of the Royal Court. His previous credits there include The Heretic, Kin, Spur of the Moment, Off the Endz, The Priory, Tusk Tusk, That Face and The Vertical Hour. He was formerly an Associate Director at Live Theatre Newcastle and his other credits include Marble (Abbey, Dublin), The Family Reunion (Donmar), Statement of Regret (NT), and the South African premiere of David Harrower’s Blackbird. He is currently directing Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe and will direct David Hare’s South Downs at Chichester in September.
£10 Mondays (available on the day of perf from 9am online, 10am in-person.)
Running time 2hrs approx including one interval
Supported by the Stuart and Hilary Williams Charitable Foundation
Concessions Available, Audio Described Performance, Saturday Matinees
Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
£28, £20, £12
Sat 14 Jan 2012
Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
£28, £20, £12
Sold out Performances
Mondays all seats £10 (available on the day of perf from 9am online, 10am in-person.)
Concessions £5 off top two prices (available in advance for all performances until 10 Dec inclusive and all matinees. For all other performances, available on a standby basis on the day)
25s and under £8 (ID required, not bookable online)
School and HE Groups of 8+ 50% off top two prices (available Tuesday–Friday)
Groups of 6+ £5 off top price (available Tuesday–Friday, not bookable online)
Access £12 (plus a companion at the same rate)
Powerfully unsettling…It gets right under your skin – a credit to both Penhall’s writing and to the finely judged unease of Jeremy Herrin’s production.
You identify with Julie, the anguished, angry wife (beautifully played by Sophie Okenedo) from the moment Daniels’s brilliant Douglas resurfaces like a shocking apparition.
One of this Christmas’s more comprehensive antidotes to panto.
The Times, By Libby Purves, December 9, 2011
Penhall has a knack of combining tension with comedy.
Daniels is chillingly convincing.
The Guardian, By Michael Billington, December 9, 2011
Jeremy Herrin’s fine production.
Penhall is very good at creating a sense of unease…
[Sophie Okenedo and Ben Daniels] carry the play’s debate, and they do so with the requisite skill.
Jack Boulter is the latest in a long line of impressive child actors in whom our stage suddenly seems rich.
Evening Standard, By Henry Hitchings, December 9, 2011
Both Okonedo and Daniels invest their performances with intensity. Okonedo conveys her character’s bewilderment with sensitivity, and Daniels is powerful in a role that requires him to strip himself bare.
Daily Express, By Simon Edge, December 9, 2011
Ben Daniels gives a terrific performance
4 stars The Arts Desk, By Aleks Sierz, December 9, 2011
Clearly one of the best new plays of the year.
A compelling and stimulating play which itself seems guaranteed to haunt you.
A thrilling mixture of the entertaining and the appalling; some moments are very humorous, others are deeply upsetting. Like the best drama, it appeals to both head and heart.
Jeremy Herrin directs with acute attention to the shifting balance of power between the adults, and with aching sympathy for little Thomas. His cast is great.
Sophie Okonedo plays Julie as a fragile, bewildered loner whose life and features are always about to collapse, but who can nevertheless deliver a sharp satirical rebuke.
[Ben Daniels] A mesmerising stage presence.
Equally convincing are youngsters Jack Boulter and Jude Campbell, who share the role of Thomas.
4 stars Whatsonstage.com, By Matt Trueman, December 9, 2011
An extraordinary production that combines the robust thinking of new writing with the tonal attention of devised work.
The Stage, By Aleks Sierz, December 9, 2011
[Penhall] offers a perfect mix of psychological observation, emotional empathy and humorous one-liners. The result is exciting, and very often unsettling.
With its provocative premiss, rapid swings of sympathy and growing tension, this is a superb piece of new writing…Thrillingly contemporary.
4 stars Financial Times, By Ian Shuttleworth, December 12, 2011
Joe Penhall has the gift, valuable to a writer, of leaving holes invisible to the naked eye.
Penhall’s writing is not ostentatious in its absence of answers; rather it discreetly poses a clutch of questions and leaves just the kind of holes that strengthen the play rather than weakening it, and allow us to peer into it from a variety of angles.
Ben Daniels is terrific.
Writer Joe Penhall, director Jeremy Herrin and actors Ben Daniels and Sophie Okonedo in discussion with the Royal Court’s Diversity Associate, Ola Animashawun.Download this Podcast