Plays by Matt Hartley


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Matt Hartley's Deposit is a play that explores the problems facing young people in London who want to buy their own property, focussing on two couples in their late 20s who together take a radical step in order to save for a deposit. It was first performed at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, London, on 12 March 2015.

The play's action takes place in a 'very, very small' one-bedroom attic flat in a terraced house in Herne Hill, London, over a period of nearly twelve months between September 2014 and August 2015. Rachel and Ben are looking to buy their first property, and so are their friends Melanie and Sam, but with rising rent prices, taxes to pay, student loans still outstanding and pensions to think about, the prospect of putting down a deposit seems ever-distant. So they decide to live together for a year in a rental property, sharing both costs and space in a cramped one-bedroom attic flat. But soon cracks in the paper-thin walls begin to appear, and as their increasingly limited living space gradually encroaches on household relations, the couples are faced with a choice between preserving their friendship, their relationships, or their dream of buying their own property.

The Hampstead Theatre premiere was directed by Lisa Spirling and directed by Polly Sullivan, with Ben Addis as Ben, Akiya Henry as Rachel, Jack Monaghan as Sam and Laura Morgan as Melanie.

Here I Belong

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Matt Hartley's Here I Belong is a play about a rural village community and the changes that affect it over several decades, seen through the eyes of one village resident. It was first produced by Pentabus and first performed at Bromfield Village Hall, Shropshire, on Wednesday 12 October 2016, before touring the UK.

The play's four scenes are set in the fictional village of Woodside, in the village hall, in four different time periods spanning the 1950s to 2016. In the opening scene, set on the day of the Coronation in 1953, Elsie is twenty-seven years old, and five months pregnant. She has turned up early to help get the hall ready for the Coronation celebrations, and is joined by her friend Dorothy, who brings her baby Marion with her in a pram. In the remaining scenes we revisit Elsie at three other key points in her life as loved ones die, and governments come and go. As Elsie gets older the question arises of how long she can stay in the village she has lived in for much of her life. As the younger generation is priced out, there are fewer local jobs, and even the bus service is cut, who will look after her?

The premiere production was directed by Elizabeth Freestone and designed by Ellan Parry. It was performed by Nathalie Barclay and Beatrice Curnew.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Matt Hartley's Microcosm is a play that examines the effect of gang intimidation on a homeowner. It was first performed at Soho Theatre, London, on 7 May 2014.

The play opens with Alex, recently moved into his new flat, receiving a visit from his neighbour, the Tom Cruise-obsessed Philip. Philip brings him a bottle of wine and the wing-mirror from Alex's car, which, it transpires after an embarrassing misunderstanding, was removed from the car by the small gang loitering on the street. It marks the start of a gradual erosion of Alex's optimism at moving into the flat and building a life with his girlfriend Clare. As the play proceeds, Alex becomes increasingly paranoid, obsessed with removing the gang from the neighbourhood, with significant consequences for his home, his relationship and his safety.

The Soho Theatre premiere was directed by Derek Bond and designed by James Perkins, with Christopher Brandon as the Police Officer, John Lightbody as Philip, Philip McGinley as Alex and Jenny Rainsford as Clare.

Sixty Five Miles

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Matt Hartley's Sixty Five Miles is a play about family connections and escaping the past, focussing on the story of a man who, after a long period in prison, tries to reclaim his life and find the daughter he has never met. It was first produced by Hull Truck Theatre and Paines Plough, and performed at Hull Truck Theatre, Hull, on 1 February 2012.

The play's action takes place in Sheffield and Hull (two cities separated by exactly sixty five miles) and in Chesterfield, in November 2005. As the play opens, Pete has just arrived at his brother Rich’s house, having served a nine-year prison sentence that has left him entirely ignorant of the whereabouts of his ex-partner and daughter. The two brothers share an intimate connection, but struggle to bridge the years and the traumatic events that have separated them. As the play proceeds, Pete’s quest for his daughter becomes intertwined with Richard’s own search for his ex-girlfriend Lucy. The differences between the two brothers, emphasised by their surrogate father Frank's behaviour towards each of them, begin to recede as the connections between them emerge across a series of episodic scenes.

The premiere production was directed by George Perrin and designed by Amy Cook. It was performed by Craige Els (as Pete), Alan Morrissey (as Rich), Becci Gemmell, Katie West (as Lucy) and Ian Bleasdale (as Frank).

Matt Hartley grew up in the Peak District and studied drama at the University of Hull. His first play Sixty Five Miles won a Bruntwood Award in the inaugural Bruntwood Competition and was produced by Paines Plough/Hull Truck in 2012. Other work for theatre includes: Here I Belong (Pentabus Theatre tour, 2016); Deposit (Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 2015); Microcosm (Soho Theatre, 2014); Horizon (National Theatre Connections, 2014); The Bee (Edinburgh Festival, 2008); Punch (Hampstead/Heat and Light Company); and Epic, Trolls and Life for Beginners (all at Theatre503, London).
He has written for TV's Hollyoaks and his radio plays include The Pursuit and Final Call.
Photo by Becky Paris.