Plays

Anne Boleyn

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Howard Brenton's Anne Boleyn is a dramatisation of the life and legacy of the notorious second wife of Henry VIII. It was first performed at Shakespeare's Globe, London, on 24 July 2010.

King James I, rummaging through the dead Queen Elizabeth’s possessions upon coming to the throne in 1603, finds alarming evidence that Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn, was a religious conspirator in love with Henry VIII but also with the most dangerous ideas of her day. Anne comes alive for him as a brilliant but reckless young woman confident in her sexuality, whose marriage and death transformed England forever. The potent love between Anne and Henry is so alive and electric that it cannot be contained in the stultifying social mores of the time, but is viewed with alarm by those at Court who fear the threat it poses to their position and influence.

The premiere at Shakespeare's Globe was directed by John Dove, with Miranda Raison as Anne Boleyn, James Garnon as King James and Anthony Howell as King Henry. It was well received by the critics, with the Daily Mail (not generally favourable to Left-leaning playwrights) commenting 'It takes a big, generous spirit to fill the Globe, and in this Brenton follows Shakespeare – not just with asides and soliloquies, but with a large colourful canvas.' The play was named Best New Play at the Whatsonstage.com Awards in 2011.

Anne Boleyn was revived at the Globe in 2011 and toured regionally in 2012 in a joint production between Shakespeare’s Globe and English Touring Theatre.

Another Door Closed

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Have you grown hard? Is that it? You were never hard then, you know. Just two spoiled daughters. Two little, selfish daughters. Two unemancipated daughters. Without her you have become hard, is that it? She was so soft, you see.

Two elderly sisters get an unexpected visit from a younger man. It appears, many years ago, the sisters' mother had been very kind to him.

Peter Gill's Another Door Closed premiered at the Theatre Royal, Bath, in August 2009.

Antebellum

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Robert O’Hara’s Antebellum bridges continents to highlight the intractability of love and the power of desire. Set in 1939, amid the cabarets and concentration camps of prewar Berlin and the plantations of post-Civil War Atlanta, the play uses seemingly unrelated historical events to explore the dynamic interplay of race, sexuality, and religion in the production of identity.

Antebellum employs a complex yet stirring hodgepodge of dramaturgical techniques, ranging from naturalistic to Brechtian, that evidence the formal complexities and heterodoxy of post-black dramaturgy.

Even more than he did in his earlier play Insurrection: Holding History (1996), O’Hara seamlessly melds the personal and the political to create a world that, by his own admission, is intimately connected to his own ‘relationship to life and to love’ but remains expansive and generous enough that his audiences might recognize and learn something about their own.

Antigone (trans. McCafferty)

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Owen McCafferty's version of Sophocles’ Antigone is a muscular take on the ancient Greek tragedy that offers a reflection on the nature of power, democracy and human rights. It was first performed by Prime Cut Productions at the Waterfront Studio Hall, Belfast, in October 2008 as part of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival.

The play takes place in a huge hall within the palace of Creon, the new ruler of Thebes. The palace is in ruins after battle and, although the war has ended, with peace comes conflict. Antigone’s brother Polyneices lies on the battlefield where he fell, his burial outlawed by Creon. Antigone is determined to overrule him and attempts to persuade her sister, Ismene, to join her in rebellion against the king, but to no avail. When Creon discovers that Antigone has disobeyed him and buried her brother, she is captured, a decision that triggers a catastrophic chain reaction resulting in the double suicide of his son Haemon and wife Eurydice.

Sophocles’ tragedy has a powerful resonance in post-conflict Northern Ireland and this version is set entirely within the walls of a palace destroyed by war. Written in his distinctive style, McCafferty highlights the human frailties of these mythic characters by drawing attention to the family saga element of the story.

The Prime Cut Productions premiere was directed by Owen McCafferty and designed by Lorna Ritchie. It was performed by Walter McMonagle, Katy Ducker (as Antigone), Rosie McClelland, Ian McElhinney, Conor MacNeill, Paul Mallon, Harry Towb, Eoin McCafferty, Tom Loane, Chris Corrigan, Julia Dearden, Cat Barter, Barry Etherson and Matt Faris.

Any Which Way

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Stefan and Akin have known each other since childhood. But growing up, they grew apart. Now Akin lies dead. And Stefan walks through London's streets, trying to face up to what he's done.

Any Which Way opened at the Only Connect Theatre, London, in November 2008.

Apologia

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Alexi Kaye Campbell's second play, Apologia presents a disastrous family reunion as the occasion for a critical look at what has happened to 60s idealists and their children. It was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, on 17 June 2009.

Kristin Miller is an eminent and successful art historian in her sixties. As a young mother she followed her politics and vocation, storming Parisian barricades and moving to Florence. Now she has written a book about her life – a book that fails to mention her two children, Peter and Simon. So when her sons and their partners, Trudi and Claire, gather at Kristin's cottage in the countryside to celebrate her birthday, she finds herself ambushed by their very different versions of the past. Over the course of the evening, everyone must confront the cost of Kristin’s commitment to her passions.

The Bush Theatre premiere was directed by Josie Rourke with Paolo Dionisotti as Kristin, Tom Beard as Peter, John Light as Simon, Sarah Goldberg as Trudi, Nina Sosanya as Claire and Philip Voss as Hugh, an old friend of Kristin's.

The play was well received by the critics, with several remarking on how it built on the promise of Campbell's previous play, The Pride. Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph wrote that Campbell was 'fast emerging as a dramatist of rare distinction', while Henry Hitchings in The Evening Standard concluded that the play 'confirms his standing as a fresh and sensitive voice'.

Arabian Nights

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Dominic Cooke's Arabian Nights is an inventive retelling of the classic tales. It was first performed at the Young Vic, London, on 16 November 1998.

It is wedding night in the palace of King Shahrayar. By morning, the new Queen Shahrazad is to be put to death like all the young brides before her. But she has one gift that could save her – the gift of storytelling. With her mischievous imagination, the young Queen spins her dazzling array of tales and characters, bringing them to life before the king: Ali Baba, Es-Sindibad the Sailor, Princess Parizade, adventurers in strange and magical worlds populated by giant beasts, talking birds, devilish ghouls and crafty thieves.

The six stories from the original collections featured in this version are: The Story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, The Story of the Little Beggar, The Story of Es-Sindibad the Sailor, How Abu Hassan Broke Wind, The Story of the Wife Who Wouldn’t Eat and The Story of the Envious Sisters. The framing story of Queen Shahrazad is retained throughout.

The Young Vic premiere was directed by Dominic Cooke. The play was revived, in a revised version, by the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, on 5 December 2009, also directed by Dominic Cooke, designed by Georgia McGuinness and with music by Gary Yershon.

The Arab-Israeli Cookbook

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

The Arab-Israeli Cookbook is a drama created from the everyday realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The project began when the Caird Company sent the writer Robin Soans and directors Rima Brihi and Tim Roseman to Israel, Gaza and the West Bank in 2003. There they sampled a variety of dishes in homes, restaurants, shops and cafes and met dozens of people with different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs. Each person had a story to tell and a recipe to cook. Robin Soans has constructed a verbatim play from the words he collected. Arab and Israeli voices come together to bring insight and understanding to the melting pot of Middle Eastern affairs.

Ariel

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Fermoy Fitzgerald, a Irish midlands politician, haunted by the ghosts of the past and enthralled by dreams of the future, will sacrifice everything in pursuit of power – even the lives of his wife and family. On the day of his daughter Ariel's sixteenth birthday, he makes a terrifying bargain with God

Ariel was first performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in October 2002.

Aristo

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Aristo, based on the life of the wealthy shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, is an explosive account of how those in positions of enormous power and wealth often live lives detached from the realities and moralities of everyday existence.

After a notorious affair with the opera singer Maria Callas, Onassis married Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of the US President John F. Kennedy, in 1968. Commented on by a gossiping Greek chorus, Aristo is a portrait of the complex and sometimes dark entanglements of their families, his relationships with Jacqueline and the scorned Maria, and the tragedy of his son Alexandros. Aristo, like Onassis himself, is charming, charismatic, and inescapably sinister.

Based in part on Peter Evans’ book Nemesis, Aristo premiered at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 2008.