Plays by Ali Taylor


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ali Taylor's play Cathy is about the impact of spiralling living costs and the UK government's austerity measures on the most vulnerable in society. It was inspired by Ken Loach's 1966 television drama, Cathy Come Home.

The play was produced by Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company that makes work with and for homeless people, and first performed at the Pleasance Theatre, London on 11 October 2016 as part of a UK tour.

The play follows Cathy (age 43) and her 15-year-old daughter Danielle as they struggle to find a suitable home after being forced out of their East London flat following a change of landlord. Reluctant to move away for fear of disrupting Danielle's exam preparations, or becoming unable to visit her father in his care home, Cathy seeks help from the local housing office, only to find herself falling through cracks in the system, with no one willing or able to stop her descent.

Cardboard Citizens commissioned Ali Taylor to write the play as a piece of 'Forum Theatre', marking the 50th anniversary of Ken Loach's film, and, at the same time, the 25th anniversary of the theatre company. Adrian Jackson, Artistic Director of Cardboard Citizens, explains in a note included in the published script: 'One purpose in our staging of Ali Taylor’s powerful and tender portrait of a family dealing with these pressures is indeed to open our audience’s eyes to what is going on all around us, and, as in Cathy Come Home, hopefully to stoke up an anger which might lead to change. In a Forum Theatre presentation, after showing the play to an audience which has a stake in the issues, a discussion ensues, as to what might be different – how, in particular, the protagonists of the play, in this case Cathy and maybe Danielle, might have dealt with the oppressions that confront them in other ways, to try to overcome their problems. This is in no way intended to suggest that they are responsible for their situation – rather it is a provocation to see how all of us, however little power we appear to have, might confront the powerful institutions and mind-sets that surround us, to bring about change.'

The production was directed by Adrian Jackson and designed by Lucy Sierra. It was performed by Cathy Oweny as Cathy, Hayley Wareham as Danielle, Amy Loughton, Alex Jones, Carrie Rock, Adrian Jackson, Terry O’Leary and Kerry Norridge.

Cotton Wool

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ali Taylor's play Cotton Wool is a coming-of-age drama set in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. It received its European premiere at Staatsschauspiel Dresden on 18 January 2008, and was staged at Theatre503, London, in April 2008. It won the 2009 Meyer-Whitworth Award.

The play follows two brothers, Callum (age 18) and Gussie (age 16), living on the Fife coast and recently orphaned. Callum believes they should make a new start in London, but, on the night of their mother's funeral, having drunk copious amounts of beer, the two boys think they spot their mother calling to them from out at sea. Things get more complicated when they meet runaway Harriet (age 17), who is trying to find her father, and both brothers fall for her.

The production was directed by Lisa Spirling and designed by Polly Sullivan. It was performed by Joseph Arkley as Callum, Owen Whitelaw as Gussie, Victoria Bavister as Harriet and Catherine Cayman.

Fault Lines

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ali Taylor's play Fault Lines is a comedy drama set in a disasters relief charity in the aftermath of a major earthquake. It was first performed at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, London, on 5 December 2013.

The play is set in the offices of Disasters Relief, a small charity in London. Colleagues Nick and Abi wake up on the morning of Christmas Eve, amidst the carnage of the previous night's office party, to breaking news: a massive earthquake has struck Pakistan. Gathering their clothes – and dignity – the race with rivals Oxfam begins. Who can be the first to dispatch branded aid in full view of the world media? And how far are they willing to go? With the appalling spectre of the previous night’s antics hanging over everything, the day rapidly spirals into a dizzying web of secrets and lies.

The production was directed by Lisa Spirling and designed by Polly Sullivan. It was performed by Natalie Dew, Samuel James, Alex Lawther and Nichola McAuliffe.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ali Taylor's play Overspill is a drama about three young men on a night out that ends in violence, written in stylised dialogue full of urban poetry and half-rhymes. Winner of Metamorphosis 08, a competition organised by Bromley's theatre, The Churchill, Overspill was first performed at The Churchill on 18 June 2008, transferring to Soho Theatre in October 2008.

The play is set in Bromley, south-east of London, in the present day. Potts, Finch and Baron, all twenty years old, have been mates since they were five. They are out on the town as they are every Friday night. But their night out takes a dramatic and terrifying twist when an explosion rocks the town centre, and a suspicious population points the finger at them.

In an Author's Note in the published script, Ali Taylor writes: 'Overspill is set in Bromley, outside London, but it could be set in any town anywhere in the UK. There are hundreds of Bromleys in Britain – suburbs sitting on the edge of bigger towns or cities, all with the same shops, restaurants and chain pubs. ... I encourage theatre companies interested in performing Overspill to make it specific to their town.'

The original production was directed by Tim Roseman and designed by Paul Wills. It was performed by Syrus Lowe, Paul Stocker and Danny Worters.

Ali Taylor trained at the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme. His first play Cotton Wool (Theatre503, London, 2008) won the 18th Meyer Whitworth Award. He was one of the winners of ‘Metamorphosis08’, a new play competition run by the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, for his play Overspill (Churchill, Bromley, & Soho Theatre, London, 2008). His writing for young people includes two plays for Polka Theatre: Sticks and Stones and an adaptation of The Machine Gunners (shortlisted for the Brian Way Award). Other plays include Conspiracy (RWCMD/Gate); Under My Skin (Pegasus); Fault Lines (Hampstead Theatre, 2013); Cathy (Cardboard Citizens, 2016) and several radio plays for BBC Radio 4.