Plays by Deborah Bruce

The Distance

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Deborah Bruce's The Distance is a play about the emotional fallout when a woman walks out on her husband and children. It was first performed at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, on 8 October 2014.

At the beginning of the play, 40-year-old Bea is staying with a group of old friends in Sussex, having abandoned her family in Australia. Her friends' attempts to comfort her only add to her sense of confusion. Kate insists that she and Bea fly straight back to Melbourne to claim custody of the children, while Alex is chiefly concerned that her own teenage son might be caught up in the London riots of 2011. What nobody seems to notice is that Bea is guiltily relieved to be rid of her family and doesn’t even want to talk to them via Skype. As the truth leaks out, things threaten to slide into chaos.

The Orange Tree Theatre premiere was directed by Charlotte Gwinner and designed by Signe Beckmann. It was performed by Helen Baxendale (as Lou), Emma Beattie, Daniel Hawksford, Timothy Knightley, Clare Lawrence Moody, Bill Milner and Oliver Ryan.

The play was a finalist for the 2012-13 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and premiered at the Orange Tree Theatre, London, in October 2014. It was revived at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, in 2015.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Deborah Bruce's play Godchild is a dark comedy about the rewards and pressures of childlessness on a woman approaching middle age. It was first performed at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, London, on 31 October 2013.

The play is in four scenes, three of which take place in a flat belonging to Lou, 40, whose god-daughter Minnie, 19, has moved in to take up a place at university. Minnie’s arrival shines a harsh light into the corners of Lou’s life – revealing it to be not as it seems. Her relationships are complicated, her neighbours are closing in on her, and the clock is ticking.

The Hampstead Theatre production was directed by Michael Attenborough and designed by Francesca Reidy. The cast was Pearl Chanda, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Chook Sibtain and Michael Shaeffer.

The House They Grew Up In  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Deborah Bruce's play The House They Grew Up In is about a co-dependent relationship between a reclusive brother and a sister, and how they cope when the world bursts in on them. It was first performed at Chichester Festival Theatre (in the Minerva Theatre) in a co-production with Headlong on 14 July 2017.

The play is set in the present day, in the interiors of two adjacent houses on a Victorian terraced street in South East London. The house where reclusive siblings Peppy and Daniel (both now in their forties) were born is now stuffed full of everything they have ever owned. This hoard, their eccentric appearance, and their overgrown garden hedge set them conspicuously apart from others on their road. When 8-year-old Ben visits from next door, he is simply looking for friendship; but the closeness that develops between Ben and Daniel is misinterpreted, heralding the arrival of the police, an angry mother, predatory property hunters and even a snooping photographer.

The Chichester Festival Theatre production was directed by Jeremy Herrin and designed by Max Jones. It was performed by Samantha Spiro (as Peppy), Daniel Ryan (as Daniel), Leonardo Dickens and Rudi Millard (as Ben), Michelle Greenidge, Matt Sutton, Mary Stockley, Matt Sutton, Philip Wright, Daisy Fairclough, Michelle Greenidge and Philip Wright.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Deborah Bruce's play Same explores the apparent gulf between the young and old, and asks if it is as wide as it feels, or whether we are fundamentally the same inside whatever age we are. It was commissioned as part of the 2014 National Theatre Connections Festival and premiered by youth theatres across the UK.

The play's action takes place in an old people’s home in a small town. When Josie, a resident in the home, dies her grandchildren gather to share their memories of her, and her fellow residents feel the effects of her death as her funeral takes place.

An author's note included in the script states that, 'Depending on the number of actors, there can be doubling between the young and old characters. Or not. The older characters were originally written to be played by teenagers with the intention that it enables the audience to see the young person inside the old.'

Picture of Deborah Bruce

© Lesley Bruce

Deborah Bruce is a writer and theatre director. Her plays include The House They Grew Up In (Minerva Theatre, Chichester, 2017); The Distance (Orange Tree Theatre and Sheffield Crucible, 2014; a finalist for the 2012-13 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); Same (National Theatre Connections Festival 2014); and Godchild (Hampstead Theatre, 2013).