Rory Kinnear’s first play The Herd is a witty and heartfelt portrait of a family falling apart – and finally pulling together again – when life doesn’t turn out quite the way they imagined it. It was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, on 13 September 2013.
The play is set in the downstairs kitchen and living room of a suburban house. Carol, an anxiety-ridden mother, has arranged a small family party to celebrate the 21st birthday of her severely disabled son, Andy, who has long been in a care home. Those invited are Andy's elder sister, Claire, and his grandparents, Brian and Patricia. But there are also two unexpected guests: Claire's boyfriend, a Lancastrian performance-poet, and Andy's father, Ian, who abandoned the family and who is loathed by everyone in the room. It is Ian's presence in particular that bursts open old wounds and leads to explosive recriminations and the uncovering of a life-changing secret. Meanwhile, Andy and his caregiver are running late – very, very late.
The premiere production was directed by Howard Davies and designed by Helen Goddard. The cast was Amanda Root, Louise Brealey, Anna Calder-Marshall, Kenneth Cranham, Adrian Rawlins and Adrian Bower.
Kinnear won the Critics’ Circle Most Promising Playwright Award in 2014.
The play was premiered in the US by Steppenwolf at their Downstairs Theater, Chicago, from 2 April 2015. The production was directed by Frank Galati.