Plays by Evan Placey

Banana Boys

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Evan Placey's Banana Boys is a play about the challenges of being on the school football team – and secretly gay. It was commissioned by Hampstead Theatre’s youth theatre company, heat&light, and first performed at Hampstead Theatre, London, on 9 December 2011.

The play revolves around the friendship between two sixteen-year-old boys, Calum and Cameron, who become obsessed with American girl-group, The Banana Girls.

In an introduction to the published script in Girls Like That and other plays for teenagers (Nick Hern Books, 2016), Placey writes: 'Growing up queer there weren’t many young gay role models to look up to. So instead I looked up to music divas. I’m not sure what it was, but there was something about their power, their confidence, and their absolutely being at ease in their own skin that left me in awe. And so the opportunity to create my very own group of divas, The Banana Girls, was irresistible. My favourite films as a teen were the romcoms, except the queer characters didn’t exist in them, never mind being forefront. So it was my chance to rectify the past.'

The Hampstead Theatre premiere was directed by Debra Glazer and designed by Robbie Sinnott. It was performed by members of heat&light youth theatre.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Evan Placey's Consensual is a play about a pupil-teacher relationship that has overstepped the mark. It was first performed by the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at Ambassadors Theatre, London, on 18 September 2015.

The play's action revolves around a British secondary school, with an ensemble group of students maintaining an insistent presence throughout the first half. Diane is a teacher and Head of Year 11, charged with implementing the new ‘Healthy Relationships’ curriculum. Seven years ago, as a 22-year-old teaching assistant, she made a mistake: she got too close to one of her unhappy 15-year-old pupils, Freddie. Now she is a fully-qualified teacher and heavily pregnant, and Freddie has turned up. Lost and unhappy, he's intent on pressing charges. Though we see both of their stories, in the first half we're never sure the truth of what happened. While Diane tries to teach a bunch of teenagers SRE – the new educational buzzword for Sex and Relationships Education – her world unravels in the background. Freddie, meanwhile, is undermined and ridiculed by his brother for going to the police. At the time, he crowed about his conquest. Unsettlingly, who is right and who is wrong is not clear cut.

The National Youth Theatre production was directed by Pia Furtado and designed by Cecilia Carey. The cast was Lauren Lyle, Oscar Porter-Brentford, Grace Surey, Megan Parkinson, Conor Neaves, Cole Edwards, Oliver West, Luke Pierre, Gavi Singh Chera, Jason Imlach, Oliver West, Andrew Hanratty, Francene Turner, Melissa Taylor, Alice Feetham, Paris Iris Campbell and Ellise Chappell.

Girls Like That

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Evan Placey's Girls Like That is an ensemble play exploring the pressures on young people today in the wake of advancing technology. It was specially commissioned by Birmingham Repertory Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Theatre Royal Plymouth. It was first performed by The Young REP as part of The Young Rep Festival at The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham, on 12 July 2013; the West Yorkshire Playhouse Youth Theatre at the Courtyard Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, on 18 July 2013; and by the Theatre Royal Plymouth Young Company at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, on 14 August 2013.

When a naked photograph of schoolgirl Scarlett goes viral, rumours spread across smartphones like wildfire and her reputation becomes toxic, threatening to shatter the fragile unity of the girls she has grown up with. But how long can Scarlett remain silent? And why isn't it the same for boys? Using music and dance sequences, and featuring shifts in time to explore the evolution of feminist consciousness, the play focuses on adolescent female friendship in the present day and its fragility in the face of societal and cultural pressures.

The premiere productions were directed by Daniel Tyler (Birmingham Rep), Gemma Woffinden (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Beth Shouler (Theatre Royal, Plymouth).

In January 2014, members of the West Yorkshire Playhouse Youth Theatre travelled to Westminster to perform an extract from the play in Parliament as part of the launch of YoungMinds Vs, a new children’s mental health campaign.

The play was revived at the Unicorn Theatre, London, on 6 November 2014 in a co-production by the Unicorn and Synergy Theatre, directed by Esther Baker and designed by Katy McPhee.

The play was awarded Best Play for Young Audiences at the 2015 Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards.

Holloway Jones

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Evan Placey's Holloway Jones is a play about a teenage girl in foster care. It was commissioned and produced by Synergy Theatre Project, and was first performed at the Unicorn Theatre, London, on 2 November 2011, following a tour to schools and pupil referral units. It won the 2012 Brian Way Award for Best Play for Young People.

The play is set primarily in London, between 2008 and 2012. Holloway Jones is sixteen, her Mum is in prison and she is in foster care. Despite all this, her life is on track. She has a goal and is training hard for a place in the BMX Olympic Talent Team. But when she falls for charming, generous bad boy Avery, things start to unravel fast. Suddenly she’s in too deep, involved in the kind of joint enterprise that it is very hard to walk away from.

The Synergy production was directed by Esther Baker and designed by Katy McPhee. It was performed by Danielle Vitalis (as Holloway Jones), Doreene Blackstock, Mandeep Dhillon, Holli Dempsey, Femi Wilhelm, Frank Prosper and Karl Smith.

Jekyll & Hyde  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Evan Placey's Jekyll & Hyde is a radical re-imagining of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 gothic novella, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It was commissioned by the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, and first performed by the company at the Ambassadors Theatre, London, on 27 September 2017.

The play opens in the Victorian period, after the death of Dr Jekyll (the culminating event in Stevenson's novella). Jekyll's widow, Harriet, is trying to continue her late husband's work, which results in her developing an alter ego as a violent, forthright prostitute, Flossie Hyde, who isn’t going to be exploited by anyone. But the world of the story is increasingly disrupted by glaring anachronisms until, at the end of Act One, the twenty-first-century world breaks through in the form of a new plot concerning a young woman called Florence Monroe, who is blogging a story about Harriet Jekyll, and using it to incite rebellion and public violence against patriarchal authority.

In an Introduction to the published script, Evan Placey writes: 'I was conscious, when working on my version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, that it was a process of reimagination, rather than simply adaptation. Not only was I writing for a new genre, but I was writing for a new generation. I wanted to preserve the heart of the novel whilst making a new work that would stand in its own right, and so it made sense to me for my play also to explore some elements of the story that Stevenson’s novel had not.

'Revisiting the book I was struck by the invisibility of women. Aside from two fleeting characters in two fleeting moments, they don’t exist. They’re not allowed to be part of the story. And so I started to imagine what the stories were for the unseen women in the book and what the narrative would be like if a woman were to take the reins.

'The repression of the female characters from the novel slowly became the main thing I wanted to explore in my adaptation – especially the idea that if society represses specific groups, they have to go to extremes to liberate themselves.'

The National Youth Theatre production was directed by Roy Alexander Weise with set design by Laura Hopkins. It was performed by Elizabeth McCafferty (as Harriet Jekyll), Marc Benga, Jenny Walser (as Florence Monroe), Scott Oswald, Rosella Doda, Leah Gaffey, Joanna McGibbon, Douglas Wood, Amarah Jae St. Aubyn, Rebecca Hesketh-Smith, Curtis John Kemlo, Leo Shirley, Megan Burke, Eddie-Joe Robinson, Jamie Rose and Mohammed Mansaray.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Evan Placey's Pronoun is a play about a transgender teenager, exploring the impact on friends and family of an individual's decision to undergo gender transition. The play was commissioned as part of the 2014 National Theatre Connections Festival and premiered by youth theatres across the UK, including a performance at the National Theatre in July 2014.

The play's main character, Dean (formerly Isabella), is a transgender male – meaning Dean was born a girl, and is biologically female, but identifies as male, and is in transition to becoming male. The play is about Dean's experience of that transition and his relationships with his friends, his boyfriend and his family. He has started hormone treatment and is binding his chest while trying to save up for chest surgery. He has chosen his new name, inspired by his hero, James Dean, who takes on physical form in Dean's private fantasy world. He has asked everyone around him to treat him as the young man that he feels himself to be. But, while his friends are generally supportive, his mum and dad are struggling as they try to understand Dean's experience for themselves. Dean's sister, Dani, is struggling with the loss of a sister. And Dean's boyfriend, Josh, is struggling to make sense of a confused welter of feelings.

In an introduction accompanying the play in the volume Girls Like That and other plays for teenagers (Nick Hern Books, 2015), Placey writes: 'While Dean’s transition provides the structural spine for the story, for me, it’s really a story about Dean and Josh. It’s a love story. It’s a romantic-comedy. For a play about gender, I felt the play’s form had to somehow play with gender too. When researching the play I ran a workshop with a youth theatre in Ipswich. I went in wearing make-up just to see what would happen. Nothing happened. When I asked the group half way through if anyone noticed my makeup, about half had but hadn’t thought much more about it. Which was really refreshing. Perhaps contradictorily, they were less open to the idea of one of their friends being transgender. They didn’t care if I didn’t conform to gender norms because I was some random guy doing a drama workshop. But they cared if it was someone closer to home. And so that’s when I decided the play had to be a love story. And I hope, by the end of the play, we’re all rooting for Dean and Josh to get back together.'

Picture of Evan Placey

© Knight Hall Agency Ltd

Evan Placey is a Canadian-British playwright who grew up in Toronto but now lives in London.

His plays include Mother of Him (Courtyard Theatre, 2010; winner of the King’s Cross Award for New Writing, Canada’s RBC National Playwriting Competition and the Samuel French Canadian Play Contest, and was shortlisted for the Meyer Whitworth and Rod Hall Memorial Awards); Banana Boys (Hampstead Theatre, 2010); Suicide(s) in Vegas (premiere in South Korea followed by a tour of Canada, 2011); Holloway Jones (Synergy Theatre Project, toured to schools and Unicorn Theatre, 2011; winner of the 2012 Brian Way Award for Best Play for Young People and nominated for a Writers’ Guild Award); Scarberia (Forward Theatre Project at York Theatre Royal, 2012); How Was It For You?, a verbatim play about the Olympics (Unicorn Theatre’s young company, 2012); Girls Like That (Birmingham REP, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Theatre Royal Plymouth young companies, 2013) and Pronoun (NT Connections, 2014).

Work for radio includes an adaptation of his stage play Mother of Him (BBC Radio 3/Little Brother Productions).

Evan is a Creative Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Southampton, and also teaches playwriting to young people for various theatres, and also in prisons.