Physical theatre


Adult Child/Dead Child

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

How do we cope without love? The need for love and care, and the trauma that’s brought about by its absence is at the heart of Claire Dowie’s Adult Child/Dead Child.

The unnamed protagonist of this one-person show is confronted throughout her life with excessive discipline and punishment from her parents. Whether it’s the eye-for-an-eye punishment her father insists upon, or the hours of claustrophobia and inactivity spent corralled in the cupboard under the stairs, throughout the play we see the building tension that comes from living with parents who would rather chastise than show love.

Her only comfort comes in the shape of her imaginary friend, Benji, who becomes company of sorts at first, only to turn into something more troubling and sinister as her condition worsens.

Adult Child/Dead Child won a Time Out award in 1988, with Time Out magazine describing it as ‘A strangley exhilarating experience as well as a subtle exploration of a personality under siege.'

Adult Child/Dead Child was first presented at the Finborough Theatre Club, London, on 5 June 1987, before embarking on a national tour of the UK. Performed by the author, it was directed by Dowie’s long-time collaborator Colin Watkeys.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk is a play of lyrical intensity and physical comedy, in which the lives of two men unravel over the course of ninety minutes. It was first performed at the Black Box Theatre, Galway, as part of the Galway International Arts Festival on 14 July 2014 in a production by Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival. The production subsequently toured to the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Cork Opera House, and the National Theatre, London.

The play's action takes place in a 'very large room' containing furniture pushed up against the walls. Two men, simply identified as 1 and 2, pass the time in speeded-up, silent-comedy rituals and speculating about daily life in an imagined Irish town called Ballyturk. But when a third character, 3, turns up, he not only breaks up the partnership but invites one of the duo into the outer world, and inevitable extinction.

The premiere production was directed by Enda Walsh and designed by Jamie Vartan. It was performed by Cillian Murphy, Mikel Murfi, Stephen Rea, Orla Ní Ghríofa and Aisling Walsh, with the voices of Eanna Breathnach, Niall Buggy, Denise Gough and Pauline McLynn.


Faber and Faber
Type: Text

A tragedy of maritime decline, Bound follows the fortunes of six trawlermen from Devon as they embark on one final voyage. Compelled by the threat of bankruptcy, the ageing fishing trawler The Violet is forced out into treacherous weather. Risking storms, friendships and relationships ashore, will the crew lose more than a way of life?

Bound by Jesse Britton premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2009, where it was awarded a fringe First amongst other awards. It has since toured in the UK and Australia, where it won the Adelaide Advertiser Critics Circle Award 2010.

collector of tears

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Unable to age until she has cried, Sunderland-born Tanya Sealt instead collects tears across 400 years of radical history, names her bisexuality and at long-last cries – tears of joy the day Margaret Thatcher resigns. 


Faber and Faber
Type: Text

It’s London in the 1970s and Mike, Les and Slv are fighting for their youth. Filling their days with sex and violence, they battle both the boredom they fear and the inevitable future they see in their parents, ultimately finding that history is doomed to repeat itself.

East offers a stylized and humorous examination of the violence and uncertainty of growing up in the east end of London.

Steven Berkoff’s East premiered at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in August 1975, in a London Theatre Group production.


Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In spite of Eddy’s humble beginnings, he manages to find happiness by solving the Sphinx’s riddle and ending the plague of poverty that surrounds him. He gains wealth and loves his beautiful wife – but will the gypsy’s prophecy come true? Does a fate worse than death await him?

Steven Berkoff’s exciting retelling of the ancient Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex puts the hero in contemporary England, and explores the story from a whole new angle, emphasizing the positive and redemptive power of love.

Greek premiered at the Half Moon Theatre, London, in February 1980, in an Arts Theatre production.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Arinzé Kene's play Misty is a drama combining gig theatre, spoken word, live art and direct address, exploring contemporary inner-city London, and confronting the assumptions and expectations underpinning the act of telling a story. It was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, on 21 March 2018, transferring to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End from 8 September 2018.

The play begins with a character called 'Virus' performing a routine about London, which he likens to a living organism. His account of a violent incident on a night bus and its aftermath is intercut with sequences in which 'Arinzé’ wrestles with the story he wishes to tell, derided by his friends and family who complain that he is writing a play that caters to white expectations of black lives.

The Bush Theatre production was directed by Omar Elerian and designed by Rajha Shakiry. It was performed by Arinzé Kene, with Shiloh Coke and Adrian McLeod as the Musicians, and Mya Napolean and Rene Powell as the Little Girl. 

A Mouthful of Birds

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

A Mouthful of Birds is a collaboratively written theatre piece by Caryl Churchill and David Lan, combining text and dance to explore the nature of madness, possession and violence. It was inspired by Euripides’ Bacchae. The play was first performed in association with Joint Stock Theatre Company at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 27 November 1986 and opened at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 27 November 1986.

The play consists of 32 short vignettes relating to the theme of madness and possession. Lena is a mother who hears voices commanding her to drown her baby. A new spirit guide is taunting voodoo practitioner Marcia whilst Yvonne is a desperate alcoholic. Meanwhile, businessman Paul falls inexplicably and suddenly in love with a pig. A female prison warder bemoans the appearance of a new prisoner who is killing all her female inmates using magic, while Doreen is suffering from grotesque delusions. Herculine Barbin, played by a women but dressed as a man, delivers a monologue at the start of Act Two, while Dionysos, played by a man in a white petticoat, performs a series of dances that punctuate the action.

A Mouthful of Birds was developed in workshop with Joint Stock Theatre Company over a period of twelve weeks. As Caryl Churchill explains in the Introduction to Plays: Three, 'Ian Spink (choreographer) worked with the company continuously, making some material before any text was written, and some to fit specifically into scenes that were written to have dance in them.'

The Joint Stock production was directed by Ian Spink and Les Waters, and designed by Annie Smart. The cast included Tricia Kelly, Dona Croll, Christian Burgess, Vivienne Rochester, Philippe Giraudeau, Stephen Goff, Marjorie Yates and Amelda Brown.

Nuclear War

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

I want, one more time, to be absolutely in the moment . . . I am going to try as hard as I can to not be a human being.

A series of suggestions on desire, death and time.

Nuclear War is the searing result of a groundbreaking and form-defying collaboration between Simon Stephens and the choreographer and movement director Imogen Knight, developed by Actors Touring Company.

Nuclear War was published to coincide with the world premiere of the play at the Royal Court Theatre, Upstairs, London, in April 2017.


Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Over 10,000 different smells drift across our planet in various configurations. Olfactory gives you a choice to craft your identity and to decode the invisible molecules floating through the air. Who do you want to be in the future?

This short play explores our invisible relationship with perfumes and smell, through a one-on-one performance, encased in a beautiful piece of architecture. The experience was originally presented as part of the Lyric Hammersmith's 'Theatre in the Square' season in 2012.

Generally, a theatre piece in which the physical aspects of the performance are at least as important as the dialogue, often more so. The term has been used to describe the work of Grotowski, whose laboratory theatre involved extensive and rigorous physical training, and that of his disciples like Schechner. It is also applied to a broader spectrum of work exemplified by companies such as Théâtre de Complicité, in which the performers’ training in such disciplines as clowning, mime and commedia dell’arte techniques provides a completely different perspective on even the most traditional material.

from Andrew Solway, The Continuum Companion to Twentieth-Century Theatre, ed. Colin Chambers (London, 2002).