Lucy Kirkwood


Plays by Lucy Kirkwood

Beauty and the Beast

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Lucy Kirkwood's delightful version of the classic fairytale, first seen in a production devised and directed by Katie Mitchell at the National Theatre for Christmas 2010.

The theft of a single rose has monstrous consequences for Beauty and her father. Because this is no ordinary rose... and this is no ordinary fairytale. Narrated by a pair of mischievous fairies, a very helpful Rabbit, and a Thoughtsnatcher machine, this timeless story is sure to surprise, delight and enchant.

A wild and twisted tale, full of exciting and intriguing challenges for drama groups wishing to stage their own production.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

A powerful play about international relations and the shifting balance of power between East and West, Lucy Kirkwood's Chimerica is both a political examination and an engaging personal drama.

Tiananmen Square, 1989. As tanks roll through Beijing and soldiers hammer on his hotel door, Joe – a young American photojournalist – captures a piece of history with his camera: the moment when a lone man steps in front of the tanks.

New York, 2012. Joe is covering the presidential election, marred by debate over cheap labour and the outsourcing of American jobs to Chinese factories. When a cryptic message left in a Beijing newspaper suggests that the so-called 'tank man' is still alive and living in America, Joe is driven to discover the truth about the unknown hero he photographed.

The play asks urgent questions about the emergence of China as a global superpower, the impact and legacy of authoritarian government, and the decline of Western supremacy. It also explores the personal price paid by those who pursue the truth, whatever the cost.

Chimerica premiered at the Almeida Theatre in London in 2013 in a co-production with theatre company Headlong. It was an immediate critical success, receiving a clutch of five-star reviews. It subsequently transferred to the Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End in June 2013 and was awarded the Evening Standard, Critics' Circle and Olivier Awards for Best New Play as well as the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

it felt empty when the heart went at first but it is alright now

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Lucy Kirkwood's it felt empty when the heart went at first but it is alright now is a play about modern-day sex trafficking. It was commissioned by Clean Break and first performed by the company at the Arcola Theatre in London on 7 October 2009.

The play centres on the lives of two women: young Croatian mother Dijana, who has been brought to England by a man called Babac, promising the world but eventually forcing her into prostitution; and Gloria, an opinionated West African migrant. Babac has told Dijana that once she has earned £20,000 she will be released from her duties and free to find the child she was forced to give up. Today she is only one client away from making the total she believes will earn her freedom.

The premiere at the Arcola Theatre was directed by Lucy Morrison and designed by Chloe Lamford, with Hara Yannas as Dijana and Madeline Appiah as Gloria. It was staged as a promenade production featuring a series of installations.

The play won the John Whiting Award in 2010 (jointly awarded with Tim Crouch's The Author).


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Lucy Kirkwood's NSFW is a comedy satirising media attitudes to sexuality and personal privacy. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs on 25 October 2012.

The first part of the play is set in the editorial offices of Doghouse, a fictional lads mag that, amongst other things, runs photographs of topless women. It has just proudly unveiled the winner of its Local Lovely 2012 competition, sent in by a reader; but the buxom Carrie, 18, turns out to be only 14 years old, and her father is taking legal action. In an attempt to save the magazine (and his own career), Aidan, the editor of the magazine, sacks the well-meaning junior, Sam, who sanctioned the use of the shots. But Carrie's irate father is not so easily mollified...

In the second part of the play, Miranda, editor of a glossy women's mag called Electra, interviews the now-destitute Sam. As part of the interview she requires him to look at pictures of famous, glamorous women and identify their physical flaws, thus demonstrating her own, more insidious objectification of women.

The play's title refers to a website acronym meaning 'not safe for work', applied to online material (typically pornographic in nature) which the viewer may not want to be seen accessing in a public or formal setting such as work.

The Royal Court premiere was directed by Simon Godwin and designed by Tom Pye, with a cast including Julian Barratt as Aidan, Sacha Dhawan as Sam and Janie Dee as Miranda.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Lucy Kirkwood’s first full-length play, Tinderbox is a dystopian comedy set in a Bradford butcher's shop in a future version of England that is afflicted by riots and separated from Scotland by a 38-mile-wide Hadrian's Channel. The play was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, on 23 April 2008.

It is sometime in the 21st century, and England is crumbling into the sea. Perchik, an outlawed Scottish artist on the run from the police in Bradford, takes refuge in a traditional butcher's shop belonging to Londoner Saul Everard, a sadistic, bloodthirsty English patriot. Saul will do anything to preserve his little empire, including feeding his assistants into a cement-mixer to keep the meat supply running. Meanwhile Saul's good-natured but much-abused wife, Vanessa, acts out scenes from the X-rated movies in which she once appeared, and soon catches the eye of Perchik.

The Bush Theatre premiere was directed by Josie Rourke with a cast including Bryan Dick as Perchik, Jamie Foreman as Saul and Sheridan Smith as Vanessa.

Picture of Lucy Kirkwood

Lucy Kirkwood is a multi-award-winning playwright and screenwriter. Her play Chimerica premiered at the Almeida Theatre, London, in 2013, in a co-production with theatre company Headlong. It transferred to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End and won the Critics’ Circle, Evening Standard and Olivier Awards for Best New Play and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for best play in the English language by a female writer.

Her other work includes NSFW (Royal Court, 2012); small hours (co-written with Ed Hime; Hampstead Theatre, 2011); Beauty and the Beast (with Katie Mitchell, National Theatre, 2010); Bloody Wimmin, as part of Women, Power and Politics (Tricycle Theatre, 2010); it felt empty when the heart went at first but it is alright now (Clean Break at the Arcola Theatre, 2009; winner of the John Whiting Award); Hedda (Gate Theatre, 2008) and Tinderbox (Bush Theatre, 2008).

Lucy Kirkwood’s work for television includes E4’s series Skins (2007-13) and her original series The Smoke (Kudos/Sky One, 2014). She was also the co-recipient of the inaugural Lee Berwin Award, designed to promote the craft of playwriting in the UK and the US.