NHB Modern Plays


How My Light Is Spent

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Alan Harris's How My Light is Spent is a play exploring themes of loneliness, longing and being left behind. It was the winner of the Judges’ Award in the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, and was first performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, on 24 April 2017, in a co-production with Sherman Theatre and Theatre by the Lake, Keswick.

The play's principal characters are Jimmy and Kitty. Jimmy is thirty-four, lives with his mum and works at Newport's only drive-through doughnut restaurant. Every Wednesday evening, while his mum is out at Salvation Army meetings, Jimmy calls a premium-rate adult chatline and talks to Kitty, one of the chatline's operators. Kitty lives in the granny flat of a topiary enthusiast, and is trying to save funds for a psychology course. Things were looking up for Jimmy, but then he loses his job and he begins to disappear, starting with his hands.

The original production was performed by two actors, although an author's note in the published script states that the play was 'written for any number of performers, and the lines of dialogue can be divided up as future productions see fit.'

The premiere production was directed by Liz Stevenson and designed by Fly Davis. It was performed by Rhodri Meilir and Alexandria Riley.

How These Desperate Men Talk

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's How These Desparate Men Talk is a short play, first performed (with the title Fraternity) at the Schauspielhaus Zürich on 18 December 2004.

The play is set on an almost bare stage, with two middle-aged men, John and Dave, facing each other across a small table. The men are 'from suburbia', and they compulsively dissect the details of a childhood memory in search of the truth, while John holds a pistol to Dave's face.

The Schauspielhaus production was directed by Erich Sidler and designed by Karoline Weber. It was performed by Matthias Schuppli and Daniel Lommatzsch.

The play was premiered in Ireland (as How These Desparate Men Talk) by Corcadorca Theatre Company at the Greapel Metal Perforation Factory, Kinsale, Co. Cork, on 19 September 2014 in a production directed by Pat Kiernan. It was performed by David Pearse and Tadhg Murphy.

How To Be A Kid  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Sarah McDonald-Hughes' How To Be A Kid is play for young audiences, about how children cope when they are forced to take responsibility for adults in the family. It was first produced by Paines Plough, Theatr Clwyd and Orange Tree Theatre, and first performed in Paines Plough’s Roundabout at Theatr Clwyd on 24 June 2017. It went on to win Best Play for Young Audiences at the 2018 Writers' Guild Awards.

The play's action centres on twelve-year-old Molly who, following the death of her Nan, finds herself caring for both her younger brother, Joe, and her Mum, who has been left unable to cope with the situation. After a brief period in care, Molly is reunited with her family, where things seem to have improved, but not for long.

The premiere production was directed by James Grieve and performed by Hasan Dixon, Sally Messham and Katie Elin-Salt (as Molly).

How to Date a Feminist

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Samantha Ellis’s play How to Date a Feminist is a comedy that riffs on the Hollywood romcom as it explores the difficulties of finding true love amidst the complexities of modern dating etiquette and gender roles. It was first performed at the Arcola Theatre, London, on 6 September 2016.

The play was written to be performed by a cast of two doubling all the parts, although an author's note in the playtext states that it can equally be performed by a cast of six. Kate is a thirty-year-old journalist who, in the opening scene, is surprised to be proposed to by her boyfriend Steve, also thirty, a baker. Steve is a committed feminist (his mother, Morag, instilled feminism in him from an early age, taking him with her to the Greenham Common protests), and his proposal of marriage is accompanied by a clumsy apology on behalf of the patriarchy. Kate, who feels she suffers from a fatal attraction to bad men, is less than enchanted, and the proposal sparks a crisis in their relationship that is only to be resolved through a series of arguments, misunderstandings and infidelities, while the two performers take on a variety of additional roles including Kate and Steve's exes, Steve's mother Morag, and Kate's Israeli father Joe.

The Arcola Theatre premiere was directed by Matthew Lloyd and designed by Carla Goodman, and was performed by Tom Berish and Sarah Daykin. The production was revived at the Arcola in December 2016 for a short additional run with the same cast.

How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Fin Kennedy's How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found is a play about identity and the traces we leave on the world around us. It won the 2005 Arts Council’s John Whiting Award and was subsequently staged at the Crucible Studio, Sheffield, with performances from 23 March 2007.

When Charlie, a young executive, reaches breaking point and decides to disappear, he pays a visit to a master of the craft in a seafront fortune teller’s in Southend. Haunted by visitations from a pathologist who swears he is already lying flat out on her slab, he begins a nightmarish journey to the edge of existence that sees him stripped of everything that made him who he was.

In an article included in the published edition, Fin Kennedy writes that the idea for the play came from looking at the website of the National Missing Person's Helpline, and from his subsequent discovery of a guide to changing one's identity entitled How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found. 'Leaving one's former identity behind and starting over seems to be an almost existential act; a yearning for good faith in a world which fetishises the fake. What makes you authentic? And how do you know you're real? These may not be new questions, but they are more relevant than ever, and no less terrifying – or unanswerable.'

When the play was awarded the 38th John Whiting Award for New Writing, it was the first time that the prize had been given to an unproduced play. The script had reportedly been rejected by nearly every theatre in London.

The Crucible premiere was directed by Ellie Jones and designed by Ellen Cairns. It was performed by William Ash, Richard Bremmer, Sian Brooke, Esther Ruth Elliott and Steve Hansell.

The production was revived at the Southwark Playhouse, London, on 8 October 2008.

Human Animals

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Stef Smith's play Human Animals is a dystopian drama about life in a world where London has become infested with animals. It was first performed at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, London, on 18 May 2016.

In a series of short scenes, most of them dialogues between two characters, Smith obliquely builds a portrait of a London so plagued by foxes, mice and pigeons that roads are closed, parks burned and curfews imposed. The play's focus is on the effect this has on the city's residents: the relationship between middle-class widow Nancy and her daughter, Alex, who wants to protect animal rights; a young couple, Lisa and Jamie, who find themselves in opposition when it comes to the mass-destruction of animals; the closeted John (Nancy's neighbour) and his relationship with Si, who works in chemical distribution and has been cut off from visiting his daughter by the closure of roads crossing the river. Interwoven with these scenes are choric lines, presented in italics in the script, that are intended to be spoken by 'any cast member [or] simultaneously by multiple performers'.

The Royal Court premiere was directed by Hamish Pirie and designed by Camilla Clarke, with Natalie Dew as Alex, Ian Gelder as John, Stella Gonet as Nancy, Lisa McGrillis as Lisa, Sargon Yelda as Si and Ashley Zhangazha as Jamie.

I Caught Crabs in Walberswick  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Joel Horwood's play I Caught Crabs in Walberswick is a drama about teenage hopes, dreams and frustrations in rural East Anglia. It was first performed as part of the HighTide Festival 2008 at The Cut, Halesworth, Suffolk on 2 May 2008, in a co-production with Eastern Angles.

The production transferred to the Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, on 1 August 2008, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and then toured from 3 September to 11 October 2008. It transferred to The Bush Theatre, London, on 11 November 2008.

The play is set on a sweltering summer's day in Walberswick, a sleepy Suffolk village known for hosting the British Open Crabbing Championship. Fitz and Wheeler are two sixteen-year-old boys from nearby Reydon who ought to be revising for their last GCSE exams, but instead have gone crabbing. Wheeler is a high-flying comprehensive kid destined for university, while football-mad Fitz is struggling to cope with his dysfunctional father and his schoolwork. They are ambushed by Dani, the most desirable girl on the beach. So begins a crazy twenty-four hours that will change the lives of the three sixteen-year-olds forever.

The premiere production at HighTide was directed by Lucy Kerbel and designed by takis. It was performed by Joseph Arkley (as Fitz), David Hartley (as Wheeler), Matti Houghton (as Dani), Paul Trussell and Judith Scott.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Caryl Churchill's play Icecream, set in the late 1980s, is an unsettling look at British attitudes to America and vice-versa. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 6 April 1989.

The first act of the play is set in the UK 'during a summer in the late eighties'. A middle-aged American, Lance, is seeking out his British ancestors along with his wife, Vera. They are in awe of England’s rich and ancient history, until they meet up with Lance’s low-life English third cousins, Phil and his sister Jaq, who entangle them in a murder. The second act is set in the US the following year, this time with Phil and Jaq as the tourists who pitch up unexpectedly at Lance and Vera’s house.

The Royal Court premiere was directed by Max Stafford-Clark and designed by Peter Hartwell, with Philip Jackson as Lance, Carole Hayman as Vera, David Thewlis as Phil and Saskia Reeves as Jaq. Other parts were played by Allan Corduner and Gillian Hanna.

Caryl Churchill wrote a short companion piece to Icecream, entitled Hot Fudge, which was given a performance reading at the Royal Court Upstairs on 11, 12, 15, 19, 22 and 26 May 1989.

If Only

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

David Edgar’s If Only is a political drama set around the 2010 UK General Election and its possible consequences for policymaking. It was first performed at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester, on 20 June 2013 (previews from 14 June).

The play's first act is set in the spring of 2010, before the General Election that took place on 6 May. The day after the UK’s first ever televised prime ministerial debate, a Labour special adviser (Sam Hunt), a Liberal Democrat staffer (Jo Lambert) and a Tory candidate (Peter Greatorex) are stranded in Malaga airport by a volcanic ash cloud. As they wait for their transport home, they consider their options in the event of a hung parliament.

The second act takes place in a church near Mons in Belgium during the summer of 2014 (hence in the future at the time the play was written and premiered). The three politicians meet again during commemorations for the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. In Britain, the right-wing UKIP (UK Independence Party) is rising and Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to shore up his threatened position by co-opting his rivals' policies on immigration and welfare. But one of the three politicians knows something that could change the outcome of the 2015 election, and a series of complex political manoeuvres ensues as each of them seeks to outwit the others.

The Chichester premiere was directed by Angus Jackson and designed by Ruth Sutcliffe. The cast was Jamie Glover, Martin Hutson, Charlotte Lucas and Eve Ponsonby.

Ignorance / Jahiliyyah

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ignorance/Jahiliyyah is another political play from Steve Waters that delves into the life and legacy of Egyptian poet Sayyid Qutb whose writings have come to shape relations between the West and radical Islamists.

It’s 1949 in small-town Colorado. A group of American students struggle to accept foreign student and Muslim Sayyid Qutb into their lives. Their unthinking behaviour will have terrible consequences that are to change world history. Qutb, disgusted by the hollowness of American society and what he deemed as its over sexualisation, would go on to become a major force in the Muslim Brotherhood in the 60s and 70s. He described the malaise at the heart of Western society as resembling ‘jahiliyyah’, which roughly translates as an ignorance of Godly values. In London, sixty years later, a university professor’s work analysing those consequences takes on a frightening personal dimension when student Layla Ahmad walks into his office.

Ignorance/Jahiliyyah premiered at the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs in London in 2012.

I Just Stopped By To See The Man  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Stephen Jeffreys’s play I Just Stopped By To See The Man is a drama about the myth surrounding an old blues singer. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 30 November 2000.

The play is set in a bare ‘shotgun’ house in a small town in the Mississippi Delta in the summer of 1975. It is home to Jesse Davidson, 75, last of the old-time Delta blues singers, who is thought to have died fourteen years ago, and to his daughter Della, 34, on the run after her involvement with the Black Panthers. Their peace is shattered by the arrival of Karl, 31, an English rock star who idolises Jesse and whose band has been doing a gig in Memphis, Tennessee. Karl, facing the break-up of his band, sees salvation in persuading the reluctant Jesse to step back into the limelight for one last stand.

The Royal Court production was directed by Richard Wilson and designed by Julian McGowan. It was performed by Ciarán McMenamin (as Karl), Tommy Hollis (as Jesse) and Sophie Okonedo (as Della).

Image of an Unknown Young Woman  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Elinor Cook's Image of an Unknown Young Woman is a play about the power of the visual image to focus and incite protest in a country where the authorities will do anything to suppress it. The play was first performed at the Gate Theatre, London, on 4 June 2015.

The play's action takes place in an unnamed country where the people are rising up against a brutal regime. A young woman in a yellow dress has been shot by the police, and when a video of the shooting goes viral, a revolution begins to stir. Ali and Leyla begin to panic – they uploaded the footage, and soon the authorities are after them. Across town, Yasmin is desperate to know if her missing mother is still alive. Halfway around the world, a woman in London wants to help. As a tornado of dissent and violence spreads, everyone’s life is going to change.

The Gate Theatre production was directed by Christopher Haydon and designed by Fly Davis. It was performed by Oliver Birch, Emilie Patry, Isaac Ssebandeke, Eileen Walsh, Anjana Vasan, Ashley Zhangazha, Wendy Kweh and Susan Brown.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Oliver Lansley's Immaculate is a comic variation on the virgin birth in which a young woman finds her life spiralling into confusion when she wakes up one morning, unaccountably pregnant. It was first performed by Les Enfants Terribles Theatre Company as part of the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, at the Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh, on 3 August 2005.

The play takes place in a small bedsit belonging to Mia. Young, free and single, she hasn’t had sex for the last eleven and a half months. So when she wakes up one morning nine months pregnant, with the Angel Gabriel on her doorstep claiming parentage, she is understandably flummoxed. When her ex-boyfriend, Michael, then decides he’s the father, it seems it can’t get any worse. However, things take an even more surreal turn when Mia’s old classmate Gary turns up claiming it’s his baby – and suddenly Lucifer wants in on the action too.

The premiere production by Les Enfants Terribles was directed by Oliver Lansley and performed by Melanie Gray, Christopher Mellows, Matt Ian Kelly, James Seager, Nicole Lewis and Oliver Lansley.

The production was revived at The Space, London on 2 March 2006, and subsequently at the Corn Exchange, Wallingford; the Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe; the Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton; Reigate Grammar and Oxted Country School, Surrey; the Old Red Lion, London; Croft Hall, Hungerford; Marlborough Theatre, Brighton; and Streetwise Fringe, Dubai. The cast was Sarah Kirkland, Christopher Mellows, Matt Ian Kelly, James Seager, Claire Westwood and Timothy Edwin Brown.

Imperium: The Cicero Plays  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Mike Poulton’s Imperium: The Cicero Plays is a cycle of six historical plays about the Roman statesman and orator, Cicero, in the first century BC, adapted from Robert Harris's trilogy of novels, Imperium (2006), Lustrum (2009) and Dictator (2015), collectively known as The Cicero Trilogy.

The adaptation was first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon on 16 November 2017, with the six linked plays presented across two performances entitled Imperium I: Conspirator and Imperium II: Dictator. The production subsequently transferred to the Gielgud Theatre in the West End from 14 June 2018.

In the plays, the action is presented largely from the perspective of Tiro, Cicero’s loyal secretary, who announces near the start of the first play that he is writing a life of Cicero, the greatest orator of his age – 'some say of any age'. The narrative presents a backstage view of Ancient Rome at its most bloody and brutal, as Cicero devotes all his energy and cunning to preserve the rule of law, and defend Rome’s Republic against the predatory attacks of political rivals, discontented aristocrats, and would-be military dictators.

In Imperium I: Conspirator, Cicero is elected consul by a unanimous vote of the Roman people. Catiline, his aristocratic rival, is furious in defeat and refuses to accept the results of the election. He swears a blood oath to destroy Cicero, murder the government, and take Rome by force. Behind the conspiracy, Cicero suspects, lurks Julius Caesar – young, ruthless, popular with the Roman mob and greedy for absolute power. As law and order begins to break down, who controls the mob controls Rome: Cicero, Catiline, Caesar or the charming but vicious playboy, Publius Clodius?

In Imperium II: Dictator, Cicero has retired from politics. Julius Caesar – dictator, and commander of Rome’s armies – is assassinated. Cicero sees his death as an opportunity to restore the Republic but the assassins, Brutus and Cassius, dither as power in Rome begins to fall into the lap of Mark Antony. Determined to prevent Antony imposing a military dictatorship on Rome, Cicero forms an unlikely alliance with the 19-year-old great-nephew and heir of Julius Caesar. Confident that he can control the boy and use him to destroy Mark Antony, Cicero sets out to save the Republic.

In a preface to the published playscript, Mike Poulton writes: 'The plays Robert [Harris], Greg [Doran, director and RSC Artistic Director] and I identified, lying below the surface of the trilogy, concerned Cicero’s destruction of the power-crazed and vicious Sergius Catiline, and Cicero’s attempt to prevent Mark Antony from succeeding to Julius Caesar’s dictatorship. The background to all six linked plays is Cicero’s duel with Caesar, and its aftermath. It’s a story of natural humanity, and good laws versus military ambition. Cicero succeeds in one case, and achieves a partial success in the other. But this flawed master of political oratory carries with him the seeds of his own destruction. He is, ultimately, brought low by young men – the next generation – he has trusted, taught and nurtured.'

The RSC production was directed by Gregory Doran and designed by Anthony Ward. It was performed by Nicholas Boulton, Guy Burgess, Daniel Burke, Jade Croot, Peter de Jersey, Joe Dixon, John Dougall, Michael Grady-Hall, Oliver Johnstone, Paul Kemp, Joseph Kloska (as Tiro), Patrick Knowles, Richard McCabe (as Cicero), Hywel Morgan, Lily Nichol, David Nicolle, Pierro Niel-Mee, Siobhan Redmond, Patrick Romer, Jay Saighal, Christopher Saul, Eloise Secker and Simon Thorp.

The Indian Boy

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's The Indian Boy is a play about the discovery of a ‘wild child’ in a forest and society’s attempts to understand and control him. It was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, with the brief that it should be loosely inspired by Shakespeare; Munro chose to re-imagine the life of the ‘Indian boy’ who is the main cause of the rift between the fairies Oeron and Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The play was first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Cube, a temporary space erected in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, on 7 November 2006.

The play begins in a wooded glade at the edge of a building site, where a fifteen-year-old ‘wild’ boy is discovered by a team of builders. Peter, the property developer, wants the boy out of the way. He sends him straight to the hospital, where psychologist Julian tries to protect him. Julian’s wife, June, is desperate to understand him whilst their daughter, Sara, just wants to be close to him. Meanwhile, something wilder than the boy seems intent on escaping from the forest.

The Royal Shakespeare Company production was directed by Rebecca Gatward and designed by Liz Cooke. It was performed by Holly Aird, Claire Catchart, Christopher Fulford, Ryan Gage, David Kennedy, Ashely Madekwe, Colin Salmon, Rhik Samadder and Roderick Smith.

In Event of Moone Disaster  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Andrew Thompson's play In Event of Moone Disaster is a family drama about space exploration and its impact on the lives of three women across a time-span of 80 years. The play won the 2016 Theatre503 Playwriting Award, and was first performed at Theatre503, London, on 9 October 2017.

The play's action takes place between 1969 and 2056, primarily in a small northern English village. In 1969, a young Sylvia Moone watches the moon landing and longs for someone to sweep her off on an adventure. In 2017, she’s a crotchety old woman, her memory failing, and her son and daughter-in-law are trying to conceive. In 2055, her granddaughter, also named Sylvia Moone, is preparing to become the first person to set foot on Mars.

The premiere production was directed by Lisa Spirling and designed by Sarah Beaton. It was performed by Rosie Wyatt (as Sylvia Moone), Thomas Pickles, Will Norris, Alicya Eyo and Dar Dash.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Stephen Jeffreys’s play Interruptions is a drama exploring ideas about democracy, politics and leadership. It was written while he was resident at the University of California, Davis, and first performed at UC Davis Main Theatre on 26 April 2001.

The play shows an imaginary country preparing for an election, undergoing a military coup, and then living through the consequences. There are about eighty different characters, each intended to reflect a different part of society. Each of the seven scenes (Politics, Game, Death, Food, Sex, Work and Song) shows a group of people engaging in a basic human activity, and being frustrated in their attempts.

In her Introduction to the collection Stephen Jeffreys: Plays (Nick Hern Books, 2018), Jeffreys' wife Annabel Arden writes: '[Interruptions] sprang from [Stephen's] fascination with the Japanese aesthetic principle of Jo-ha-kyu and his desire to create a particular narrative form to express our struggles with democracy and leadership.'

In an Author's Note in the same edition, Jeffreys writes: 'My fellow playwright, David Edgar, once pointed out to me the large number of scenes in Shakespeare which could be described as ‘interrupted rituals’ (e.g. the play scene in Hamlet, the banquet in Macbeth). I worked on this idea of a single interrupted ritual – including burial, circumcision, and negotiations for a wedding. Interruptions is my own contribution to the genre. It asks the questions: "Do we need to be led?" "How do we decide who leads?" and "What happens when there are no leaders?"'

The UC Davis production was directed by Annabel Arden with scenic design by Brian Garber. It was performed by Cara Burgoyne, Simon Burzinski, Diane DiPrima, Elias Escobedo, Michelle French, Virginie Magnat, Juan Manzo, Cooky Nguyen, Linda Noveroske Rentner, Bill Ritch, Damion Sharpe and Isaac Hirotsu Woofler. 

An Intervention

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Mike Bartlett's play An Intervention is a two-hander about friendship, its responsibilities, and the roles it forces us to play. It was first performed on 16 April 2014 at Watford Palace Theatre in a co-production with Paines Plough.

The play's two characters, who in the script are designated A and B, 'can be played by actors of any age, gender or ethnicity' (in the premiere production, A was played by a woman and B by a man, so for the purposes of clarity this description follows suit). 'The play takes place in front of curtains – like Morecambe and Wise, or Abbott and Costello.' A is bright and funny with a vulnerable edge, particularly when she drinks too much. B is straighter and perhaps more conventional, but A brings out the best in him. They've always worked well together, but their friendship is no longer as close as it once was. B has a new girlfriend called Hannah. A predicts it will end in tears. B accuses A of having a drink problem. Things get worse when A goes on a march to protest against the government's military intervention in another country, while B supports the war. Neither can tolerate the other's position: but when should a friend step in, and how?

The premiere production was directed by James Grieve and designed by Lucy Osborne, with Rachael Stirling as A and John Hollingworth as B.

The premiere of An Intervention followed shortly after that of Bartlett's King Charles III, which was first performed at the Almeida Theatre, London, on 3 April 2014. Several reviewers commented on the contrast between the expansive, mock-Shakespearean form of King Charles III and the more condensed, intimate, front-of-curtain drama of An Intervention. In his review for the Daily Telegraph, Matt Trueman suggested that the two plays exhibited Bartlett's opposing 'minimalist and monsterist' tendencies and that the playwright 'could almost be his own double act'.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Tena Štivičić's play Invisible is a drama about migration and the world in flux. It was originally developed at the National Theatre Studio, London, and co-produced by Transport and New Wolsey Theatre. It was first performed at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, on 13 October 2011.

The play weaves together several stories of migration and cultural dislocation. Lara left home convinced that hard work and talent would reward her with a better life. Anton was forced to leave his village and finds himself suspended sixteen floors above a city cleaning windows. Malik stands on a beach and looks out towards a country where women apparently walk around half-naked. Felix, a young businessman with a pretty wife and a lucrative future, finds it difficult to get out of bed in the mornings. Amid the world of visas and wind turbines, commuter flights and nightclubs, fairy tales and tabloid press, a chance meeting drives disparate lives towards a chilling point of no return.

In a preface to the published script, theatre writer and academic Synne K. Behrndt writes: 'Invisible attempts to imagine the faces, the bodies and the individual human experiences, the "human scale" behind the statistics. Who are the people who leave their homelands month by month and find themselves in a new and disorientating context? And how may their experience be juxtaposed with the human consequences for globalisation’s "other half"? Finally, how does living in a world on the move shape the individual sense of identity and belonging?'

The New Wolsey Theatre production was directed by Douglas Rintoul and designed by Hayley Grindle. It was performed by Liam Bergin, Anna Elijasz, Jon Foster, Krystian Godlewski, Gracy Goldman, Mark Jax and Bridgitta Roy.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro’s Iron is a psychological drama set in a women’s prison, in which a mother and daughter try to break through the barriers of time, memory and punishment which separate them. It was first performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, on 26 July 2002.

The play starts with the first visit by 25-year-old Josie to her mother, Fay, who has served 15 years of a life sentence for killing Josie's father. Josie, a divorced and lonely career woman, wants to rediscover her past. Fay longs to live vicariously through her daughter without confronting the moment of her crime. The play explores their developing relationship and the contradictory nature of their needs, while also showing, through the characters of two prison guards, the way prison institutionalises people on both sides of its fences.

The Traverse Theatre premiere was directed by Roxana Silbert and designed by Anthony MacIlwaine. It was performed by Louise Ludgate, Sandy McDade, Ged McKenna and Helen Lomax.

The production transferred to the Royal Court Theatre, London, in January 2003.

Iron was awarded the 2003 John Whiting Award.

it felt empty when the heart went at first but it is alright now

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Lucy Kirkwood's it felt empty when the heart went at first but it is alright now is a play about modern-day sex trafficking. It was commissioned by Clean Break and first performed by the company at the Arcola Theatre in London on 7 October 2009.

The play centres on the lives of two women: young Croatian mother Dijana, who has been brought to England by a man called Babac, promising the world but eventually forcing her into prostitution; and Gloria, an opinionated West African migrant. Babac has told Dijana that once she has earned £20,000 she will be released from her duties and free to find the child she was forced to give up. Today she is only one client away from making the total she believes will earn her freedom.

The premiere at the Arcola Theatre was directed by Lucy Morrison and designed by Chloe Lamford, with Hara Yannas as Dijana and Madeline Appiah as Gloria. It was staged as a promenade production featuring a series of installations.

The play won the John Whiting Award in 2010 (jointly awarded with Tim Crouch's The Author).

I Won’t Dance – Don’t Ask Me

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

An early short monologue play from Northern Irish writer Owen McCafferty.

It’s four o’clock in the morning and middle-aged Gus McMahon can’t sleep. He’s drinking a can of Guinness and begins a rambling monologue to his only companion, his cat Sparky. Whilst his wife and son sleep upstairs, Gus rails against anything that crosses his path but we soon learn the real reason behind his desperate unhappiness. The bookkeepers he managed for twenty years has been sold and he’s been unceremoniously dumped by the new management in favour of young blood. This new situation has opened up questions about his present and past life that he never previously considered.

McCafferty worked in a variety of jobs before becoming a writer. He broke through in the 1990s with a series of short plays, including I Won’t Dance – Don’t Ask Me, which is one of his earliest performed pieces and introduced audiences his bracing poetic style.

I Won’t Dance – Don’t Ask Me was first performed at the Ulster Arts Club in Belfast in 1993.

James II: Day of the Innocents

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's play James II: Day of the Innocents is the second in her trilogy, The James Plays, about three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the fifteenth century. The play depicts a violent royal playground from the perspective of the child King.

The James Plays (also comprising James I: The Key Will Keep the Lock and James III: The True Mirror) were premiered on 10 August 2014 at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival in a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland, the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain. The production opened in the Olivier auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 10 September 2014.

In James II: Day of the Innocents, James II becomes the prize in a vicious game between Scotland’s most powerful families. Crowned when only six, abandoned by his mother and separated from his sisters, the child King is little more than a puppet. There is only one friend he can trust: William, the future Earl of Douglas. As James approaches adulthood in an ever more threatening world, he must fight to keep his tenuous grip on the crown while the nightmares of his childhood rise up once more.

In an introduction to the published script, Munro writes: 'In the delightful possibility that you are reading these plays with the view to giving them further production, here are some guidelines and warnings. All stage directions are suggestions only, you can take enormous liberties with those and emerge unscathed. Lines are very definitely not, tweak at your peril, you’ll find you’re pulling on a thread that could unravel all your plans. These texts represent a version of what was staged by the original production. Various solutions were found to represent some large moments and staging problems which are quite baldly stated in the text. As an example, we solved the problem of how to involve very small children in bloodshed and horrifying, murderous events in Day of the Innocents by using puppets. Feel free to find your own solutions.'

The premiere production was directed by Laurie Sansom and designed by Jon Bausor. The cast included Daniel Cahill as the Earl of Douglas, Ali Craig as Crichton, Blythe Duff as Isabella Stewart, Nick Elliott as John Stewart, Peter Forbes as Balvenie, Andrew Fraser as David Douglas, Sarah Higgins as Meg, Stephanie Hyam as Joan, Gordon Kennedy as Livingston, David Mara as Hume, Rona Morison as Annabella, Andrew Rothney as James II and Mark Rowley as William Douglas.

James III: The True Mirror

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's play James III: The True Mirror is the third in her trilogy, The James Plays, about three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the fifteenth century. The play, like James III himself, is colourful and unpredictable, turning its attention to the women at the heart of the royal court.

The James Plays (also comprising James I: The Key Will Keep the Lock and James II: Day of the Innocents) were premiered on 10 August 2014 at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival in a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland, the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain. The production opened in the Olivier auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 10 September 2014.

In James III: The True Mirror, Scotland comes dangerously close to civil war. Charismatic, cultured, and obsessed with grandiose schemes that his nation can ill afford, James III is by turns loved and loathed. The country's future may be decided by his resourceful and resilient wife, Queen Margaret of Denmark. Her love and clear vision can save a fragile monarchy and rescue a struggling people.

The premiere production was directed by Laurie Sansom and designed by Jon Bausor. The cast included Daniel Cahill as Jamie, Ali Craig as Sandy, Blythe Duff as Annabella, Andrew Fraser as Ross/Tam, Sofie Gråbøl as Margaret, Gordon Kennedy as John, Rona Morison as Phemy, Andrew Rothney as Cochrane, Mark Rowley as Ramsay, Jamie Sives as James III and Fiona Wood as Daisy.

James I: The Key Will Keep the Lock

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's play James I: The Key Will Keep the Lock is the first in her trilogy, The James Plays, about three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the fifteenth century. It explores the complex, colourful character of James I, poet, lover and law-maker.

The James Plays (also comprising James II: Day of the Innocents and James III: The True Mirror) were premiered on 10 August 2014 at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival in a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland, the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain. The production opened in the Olivier auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 10 September 2014.

Captured at the age of 13 and crowned King of Scots in an English prison, James I of Scotland is delivered home 18 years later with a ransom on his head and a new English bride. The nation he returns to is poor: the royal coffers empty and his nobles ready to tear him apart at the first sign of weakness. Determined to bring the rule of law to a land riven by warring factions, James faces terrible choices if he is to save himself, his Queen and the crown.

In an introduction to the published script, Munro writes: 'These plays are set within a period of Scottish history which is virtually unknown. I feel a certain responsibility, therefore, to alert you to the fact that some small liberties have been taken with known events in order to serve our stories. Certain characters represent amalgamations of many characters or stand for political forces within Scotland. Certain events have had their timelines altered to maximise the drama. However, as far as narrative imperatives allow, I’ve followed history and used primary sources. We cannot know the character and thoughts of these dead kings and queens and long-gone Scots. We can speculate a whole series of possibilities from the few hard facts we can rely on, the slim historical evidence of their actions. However, I feel robustly certain that whatever their thoughts and feelings might have been, human nature is exactly the same now as it was then. Only culture and circumstances have changed.'

The premiere production was directed by Laurie Sansom and designed by Jon Bausor. The cast included Cameron Barnes as Big James Stewart, Blythe Duff as Isabella Stewart, Peter Forbes as Balvenie, Sarah Higgins as Meg, Stephanie Hyam as Joan, Gordon Kennedy as Murdac Stewart, James McArdle as James I, Andrew Rothney as Walter Stewart, Mark Rowley as Alisdair Stewart and Jamie Sives as Henry V.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Simon Gray’s Japes is a black comedy with an unusual slant on the classic love triangle. It was first performed at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, on 23 November 2000 before transferring to the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, opening on 7 February 2001.

The play spans nearly thirty years, from the 1970s to the 1990s. Brothers Michael and Jason ‘Japes’ Cartts share the house in which they grew up, and then share the woman they both love. The object of their affection, Anita, becomes Michael’s wife whilst remaining Japes’ lover. This ménage-a-trois results in a fraternal relationship based on guilt and dependence ¬as toxic as it is supportive. Michael becomes the successful author whilst Japes’ academic career stalls and he hits the bottle. Anita is stuck between this intense rivalry but is herself afflicted by her indecision and the nagging feeling that she married the wrong brother. The full ramifications of this situation only become clear in the final scene when Gray introduces a fourth character, Michael and Anita's daughter Wendy, and shifts our perspective outside of the central threesome for the first time.

The premiere production was directed by Peter Hall and designed by John Gunter, with Toby Stephens as Jason, Jasper Britton as Michael and Clare Swinburne as Anita/Wendy.

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

Jerusalem, a bold comic vision of life in contemporary rural England, was first performed at the Royal Court, London, on 10 July 2009. Following ecstatic critical reception, it transferred to the Apollo Theatre in the West End on 28 January 2010, with The Guardian hailing the play as ‘unarguably one of the best dramas of the twenty-first century.’

On St George’s Day, the morning of the local country fair, officials from Kennet and Avon Council come to evict Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron. An ex-stunt driving Romany, Johnny lives in a battered mobile home in a Wessex wood opposite a new estate, dealing drugs, telling yarns and attracting a motley crew of wastrels and youngsters. Adding to his troubles, Dawn, the mother of his six-year-old son Marky, pays him a visit, berating him for his inability to live up to his responsibilities as a parent. On top of which, the young May Queen due to appear at the fair has gone missing, and Troy, her father, holds Johnny responsible. Through it all, Johnny remains defiant, claiming a mystical affinity with the ancient giants who once inhabited England.

The Royal Court production was directed by Ian Rickson and designed by Ultz. The cast was led by Mark Rylance as Johnny 'Rooster' Byron in a mesmerisingly physical performance that did much to create the play's legendary status.

The play opened on Broadway on 21 April 2011 at the Music Box Theatre, following previews from 2 April 2011, with Mark Rylance again in the lead role. It returned to the West End in London, playing at the Apollo from 8 October 2011 until 14 January 2012.

Jerusalem won the Evening Standard Best Play Award and the Critics Circle and Whatsonstage.com awards for Best New Play.

Jonah and Otto

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Robert Holman’s Jonah and Otto is a play for two actors exploring a fleeting moment of connection between very different men struggling to find the courage to continue. It was first performed in The Studio at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, on 12 March 2008.

The play is set in a secluded public garden in a seaside town on the south coast of England. Otto Banister, 62, is a former clergyman suffering from acute loneliness. A chance encounter with a young man, Jonah Teale, who is trying his best to look after his six-week-old baby daughter, leads to an unexpected bond between the two men. Over the course of a single day they open their hearts to each other, sharing their solitude and unfolding their secrets. They disagree with each other about women, about lust and about guilt. They question the power of magic, of redemption and the price of freedom. Each comes to see himself more clearly through the eyes of the other.

The premiere production was directed by Clare Lizzimore and designed by Paul Burgess, with Ian McDiarmid as Otto and Andrew Sheridan as Jonah.

The play was revived at the Park Theatre, London, in October 2014 in a production directed by Tim Stark, with Peter Egan as Otto and Alex Waldmann as Jonah.

Joseph K

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Tom Basden's Joseph K is a darkly comic stage adaptation of Franz Kafka’s classic novel The Trial, relocating the source material to 21st-century Britain. It was first performed at the Gate Theatre, London, on 11 November 2010.

It’s Joseph K's thirtieth birthday and he's about to settle down with some takeaway sushi. However, his delivery is intercepted by two men who have not only taken a bite out of his California roll but, rather more alarmingly, inform him that he is under arrest. He has no idea what he’s supposed to have done wrong but he's determined to clear his name. As he tries to make sense of his situation and to confront those who threaten his freedom, Joseph is thrown headlong into a fight against an invisible and illogical law.

The Gate Theatre premiere was directed by Lyndsey Turner and designed by Chloe Lamford. The cast (playing all the parts) comprised Tom Basden, Siân Brooke, Pip Carter and Tim Key. It was generally well received by the critics, with Lyn Gardner in The Guardian observing that 'Basden offers a worryingly familiar yet crazy world that suggests that the madness of contemporary life drives us all insane', while The Evening Standard described the play as 'breathtakingly funny, expertly constructed and dripping with acid wit'.

The Judge’s Wife

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Caryl Churchill's The Judge’s Wife is a short play for television. It was first broadcast on BBC 2 on 2 October 1972

A Judge passes a harsh sentence on a young man, the violent revolutionary Vernon Warren. Warren's brother, Michael, kills the Judge in revenge. Caroline, the Judge's wife, explains her husband's reactionary behaviour, seeing his death as 'his way of committing suicide'; deliberately making himself a parody of a right-wing bigot, thereby giving his life for the oppressed, for the revolution.

The BBC production was directed by James Fearman, with Sebastian Shaw as the Judge, Rachel Kempson as Caroline, Valerie White as Barbara, Evin Crowley as Peg, Anthony Andrews as the Warren brothers and Grace Dolan as Warren's mother.

Jumpers for Goalposts

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

A comedy drama about a five-a-side football team in Hull who are down on their luck.

Barely Athletic are part of a four-team five-a-side football league which Viv, their bullish head coach, is desperate to win. Or if they can’t win, at least they should try not to lose. Chucked out of the Lesbian Rovers for being too bossy, she desperately tries to instil some competitive spirit into the boys. Problem is, Beardy Geoff is copping off with the opposition, Danny is nursing a painful secret, Luke only joined because he fancies Danny and Viv’s brother-in-law Joe is trying to cope with his grief after losing his wife. Together, they might just be able to claw back up from the bottom of league. Wells’ drama bears the hallmarks of his warm comedic style, which were displayed in his previous hit play The Kitchen Sink, and is a paean to the virtues of friendship and love.

Jumpers for Goalposts was produced by renowned new-writing theatre company Paines Plough and was first performed at Watford Palace Theatre in 2013 on the first stop of a regional tour.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Jack Thorne's Junkyard is a play, with music by Stephen Warbeck, about the creation of a playground out of junk. It was first performed at Bristol Old Vic Theatre on 2 March 2017 (previews from 24 February), in a co-production between Headlong, Bristol Old Vic, Rose Theatre Kingston and Theatr Clwyd.

The play's action takes place in a playground in Lockleaze, Bristol, in 1979. A group of kids from a Bristol school, seen as misfits and disregarded simply for coming from troubled backgrounds, are invited by a man named Rick to join him in building an adventure playground on a plot the headmaster has earmarked for the new maths block. Initially suspicious of the project, they nonetheless hang about watching Rick at work, feigning lack of interest but making bonds. By the end of the summer, they would die to defend the playground, and one of them almost does.

In an Introduction to the published script, Jack Thorne writes that the play was inspired by his own father and the 'junk playground he built with some kids at Lockleaze School in Bristol... But Junkyard is not about my dad... Rather,

it’s an attempt to walk the high wire he walked – and to tell the truth about the type of kids who built these playgrounds, the places they come from, the lives they lead.'

The premiere production was directed by Jeremy Herrin and designed by Chiara Stephenson. It was performed by Scarlett Brookes, Calum Callaghan (as Rick), Josef Davies, Erin Doherty, Kevin McMonagle, Enyi Okoronkwo, Seyi Omooba, Lisa Palfrey, Jack Riddiford and Ciaran Alexander Stewart

Just the Three of Us

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Simon Gray’s Just the Three of Us is a play that mixes the comic with the macabre to explore ideas about love, both platonic and romantic. It was first performed by the Peter Hall Company at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, on 7 October 1997.

Enid is a best-selling romantic novelist. Her publisher husband, Fred, has confessed to an affair with his temporary PA, Terri. Enid has decided to lure the girl to her country retreat with the aid of her best friend, local vicar Ronnie. When Terri turns up on the pretext of discussing Fred’s surprise birthday party, Enid quite literally puts her in chains. Already fairly inebriated, she begins to tease Terri with a game of cat and mouse whilst Ronnie is trapped in the bathroom listening in. But what follows is wholly unexpected. Terri admits to a one-night stand with Freddie but nothing more. Quite unexpectedly, Enid takes a liking to Terri and resolves to educate her. Over the course of two months an intense bond develops between the women that turns to love. Meanwhile Ronnie can only look on, jealous that his position as the platonic third party in Fred and Enid’s marriage has been usurped.

The premiere production was directed by Peter Hall and designed by Ti Green. The cast was Prunella Scales as Enid, Dinsdale Landen as Ronnie and Carli Norris as Terri. Following the performances at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, the production toured to Brighton, Guildford, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Swansea and Newcastle.

Kanye The First  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Annie's not really a fan of herself. But what if everyone thought she was someone else? Someone different. Someone better.

Sam Steiner's Kanye The First is a dazzlingly funny and original drama about identity, guilt, contemporary culture and the second coming of Kanye West. It was first performed as part of HighTide Festival 2017, in a co-production between HighTide and Paul Jellis, in association with The Marlowe and The North Wall.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Between 1939 until the outbreak of World War II, nearly 10,000 Jewish children were taken from their families in Nazi-occupied Germany and sent to live with foster families in Britain. Diane Samuels’ seminal play, Kindertransport, imagines the fate of one such child. Now widely considered a modern classic, Kindertransport has been read and studied the world over.

Nine-year-old Eva is taken from her home in Germany and sent to Manchester to live with the Miller family. At first she clashes with her foster mother, Lil, but slowly a bond of trust forms between them. After she learns that her parents have failed to escape Germany, the Millers become her family and a new identity begins to form. After the war is over, she changes her name to Evelyn and acquires British citizenship. Over thirty years later, her now grown-up daughter, Faith stumbles across some old letters in their attic and Evelyn is forced to confront her traumatic past. Samuels deftly weaves together Evelyn’s past and present as she explores the devastating impact of the Holocaust on three generations.

The play won the 1992 Verity Bargate Award and was subsequently staged by the Soho Theatre Company at the Cockpit Theatre in London in 1993. It was a huge success both in the UK and the US, where it was staged at the Manhattan Theatre Club, with the New Yorker calling it ‘a powerful contribution to Holocaust literature.’ It also won the Meyer-Whitworth Award in 1993.

Since its premiere the play has been revived several times. Watford Palace Theatre staged it in 1996, in a production that transferred to the West End. Renowned theatre company Shared Experience also revived the play to great acclaim for a regional tour in 2007. Kindertransport is a set-text for GCSE Drama (AQA) and AS/A-Level English Literature.

King Charles III

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Mike Bartlett's King Charles III is a ‘future history play’ that speculates about events following the death of the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and the subsequent coronation of her son as King Charles. Drawing on the style and structure of a Shakespearean history play, it explores the people beneath the crowns, the unwritten rules of British democracy, and the conscience of the Royal Family.

It was first performed at the Almeida Theatre, London, on 3 April 2014. The production transferred to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre from 2 September 2014 for an initial three-month run, later announcing an extension to the end of January 2015.

The play is in five acts and is written in blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameters, the form most commonly used by Shakespeare in his plays). It begins with a Prologue presenting the funeral procession of Queen Elizabeth II. Charles, as the new King, then holds his first weekly audience with the Prime Minister, principally discussing a new bill for statutory regulation of the press. The bill has already been passed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and is only awaiting Charles' royal assent to become law. Charles, however, is concerned that the law places excessive restrictions on the freedom of the press, and refuses to grant his assent. In a subplot, Prince Harry falls for Jess, an art student with republican convictions. Both Charles and Prince William are visited by the ghost of Princess Diana, who promises each that he will become 'the greatest king of all'. The Prime Minister holds a crisis meeting over the press bill with the Leader of the Opposition, and then threatens to pass a new law bypassing the royal assent. But Charles uses his royal prerogative to dissolve parliament. Protests break out across the country. Charles increases the armed guard at Buckingham Palace, offers his protection to Jess (whom the media have made the centre of a sex scandal) and agrees to Harry's wish to become a commoner. Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, presents a way forward: William should offer himself as a mediator between parliament and his father. When William announces this at a press conference without his father's knowledge and consent, Charles reacts angrily, seeing it as a betrayal; but ultimately the King finds himself forced to abdicate in favour of William, who will sign the press bill and restore the status quo between crown and parliament. The play concludes with Harry's rejection of Jess, and William and Kate's coronation.

The Almeida Theatre premiere was directed by Rupert Goold and designed by Tom Scutt. It was performed by Katie Brayben, Oliver Chris, Richard Goulding, Nyasha Hatendi, Adam James, Margot Leicester, Tim Pigott-Smith (as Charles), Tom Robertson, Nicholas Rowe, Nick Sampson, Tafline Steen, LydiaWilson, Anna-Helena McLean and Belinda Sykes.

The critical response to the play was very favourable. Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph called it 'the most spectacular, gripping and wickedly entertaining piece of lèse-majesté that British theatre has ever seen'. Dominic Maxwell in The Times declared that 'Theatre doesn’t get much better than this'. The critic for Time Out described it as 'a meaty, hilarious, dizzyingly audacious state of the nation political thriller'.

The play went on to win Best New Play at both the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and the Olivier Awards. It also won South Bank Sky Arts Theatre Award.

In an essay included in the hardback edition of the play (Nick Hern Books, 2014), Mike Bartlett writes 'The idea for King Charles III arrived in my imagination with the form and the content very clear, and inextricably linked. ... An epic royal family drama, dealing with power and national constitution, was the content, and therefore the form had surely to be Shakespearean.'

Following its West End run, the play began a UK tour at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in September 2015 with Robert Powell in the role of Charles. The play transferred to Broadway for a limited engagement with the original London cast, running at the Music Box Theatre from 1 November 2015 until 31 January 2016, following previews from 10 October 2015.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

In a small kitchen, standing by her sink, a wife wills her implosion.

Kitchen was first performed at the 2015 Galway Arts Festival, and was revived at the 2016 Galway International Arts Festival alongside two other short plays by Enda Walsh - A Girl's Bedroom and Room 303 - under the collective title Rooms.

The Kitchen Sink

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Tom Wells’ second full-length play to be professionally produced is about a family in crisis. The Kitchen Sink was a commercial and critical success on its premiere, praised for its inventive turn of phrase, which the Guardian likened to Alan Bennett in its five star review, and its accurate portrayal of family life.

Things aren’t going to plan for one family in Withernsea, Yorkshire. Pieces are falling off Martin’s milk float as quickly as he’s losing customers and something’s up with Kath’s kitchen sink. Billy is pinning his hopes of a place at art college in London on a revealing portrait of Dolly Parton, whilst his sister Sophie’s dreams of becoming a ju-jitsu teacher might be disappearing down the plughole. Amid the dreaming, the dramas and the dirty dishes, something has to give.

Wells’ comic touch, glimpsed in his earlier monologue pieces and short play, Me, As A Penguin, is given full rein here. The play depicts how small changes in our lives can nonetheless have a big impact in a similar manner to the ‘kitchen sink dramas’ of the 1950s, which were labelled as revolutionary by the theatrical establishment at the time.

The Kitchen Sink premiered at the Bush Theatre in London in 2011 and won Wells the Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards and the George Devine Award.

Ladies’ Day

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ladies’ Day is a comedy drama from Amanda Whittington about four unlikely lasses from Hull who decide to take a day trip to the races. Focusing on the friendship between the four distinctly different women, the play has proved hugely popular with amateur groups across the UK.

Work, love and life are just one long, hard slog for the fish-filleting foursome Pearl, Jan, Shelley and Linda. But their fortunes are set to change when Linda finds tickets to Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot the year it relocated to York. Out go the hairnets, overalls and wellies as they do themselves up to the nines and head off to the races. Glamour puss Shelley is interested in meeting a handsome, and preferably rich, man. Linda, on the other hand, is skint after letting her duplicitous mother back into her life. Pearl spills the beans on her illicit love life to devoted single mother, Jan, who is concerned for her academically ambitious daughter. As the girls guzzle champagne they come across a variety of characters from an arrogant TV pundit to a sensitive jockey. They place the odd bet too and if their luck holds, they could just hit the jackpot.

Ladies’ Day premiered at Hull Truck Theatre in 2005 and has been revived many times since including at the Royal Court in Liverpool and the Oldham Coliseum in Manchester.

Ladies Down Under

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Amanda Whittington’s Ladies Down Under is a sequel to her hit play, Ladies’ Day and follows the fortunes of Pearl, Jan, Shelley and Linda as they head to Australia.

Having won an absolute fortune at the races last time round in Ladies’ Day, the girls from Hull head off to Australia on the trip of a lifetime. But it’s not all fun Down Under. Jan is terrified that boyfriend, Joe (who left England for a new life at the beginning of Ladies’ Day) may have lost interest in her while he’s been abroad. Linda is struggling with the burden her new fortune has brought her. Shelley has frittered away her share on designer clothes and partying, but soon discovers she has very little to show for it. Meanwhile, Pearl is going through a life-changing event herself. The women each discover something about themselves as their bond deepens and they discover that money can’t buy you love, or happiness.

Ladies Down Under premiered at Hull Truck Theatre in 2007.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Stacey Gregg’s play Lagan is a kaleidoscope of stories from post-Troubles Belfast, an intimate portrait of the city and its inhabitants. It was first performed at the Ovalhouse Theatre, London, on 26 October 2011.

The play weaves together ten interconnecting monologues, with repeated references to the Lagan, the river running through the city of Belfast. An uptight brass band conductress vilifies her pregnant teenage daughter, whilst her son reluctantly returns to his hometown after making a new life in London. A taxi driver bemoans the influx of immigrants into the city and is father to two wayward children. A woman talks to her son’s ghost amidst the city's scaffolding, while her remaining son unexpectedly falls in love with a young woman. Stories move in and out of focus as the connections between the characters are gradually revealed. And although the spectre of the Troubles looms, Gregg portrays the city as moving tentatively out of those shadows and into a new light.

The Ovalhouse premiere was directed by Jane Fallowfield and designed by Cecilia Carey. It was performed by Kathy Keira Clarke, Pauline Hutton, Sean Rea and Alan Turkington.

Last Dance at Dum Dum

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ayub Khan Din’s play Last Dance at Dum Dum is a comedy about the last remaining members of a dwindling community of Anglo-Indians living in Calcutta in the 1980s. It was first performed on 14 July 1999 at the New Ambassadors Theatre in the West End in a production by the Royal Court Theatre.

Calcutta, 1981. In a peeling colonial bungalow in the Dum Dum district of Calcutta live the last, ageing members of an Anglo-Indian community – a gang of eccentrics attempting to come to terms with their pasts and their fears for the future. Violet is obsessed with all things British, Daphne has a weakness for French records, Elliot has a questionable dress sense and Muriel is prone to confrontational outbursts when anyone threatens their territory. For them, the imperial sun never set. More British than the British despite their mixed race, they cling determinedly to their supposed superiority over the rest of the population. But beyond the jasmine-covered walls of Dum Dum, a rising tide of Hindu nationalism and militancy is creeping ever closer.

The Royal Court production at the New Ambassadors was directed by Stuart Burge and designed by Tim Hately with a cast including Sheila Burrell, Madhur Jaffrey, Diana Fairfax, Madhav Sharma, Rashid Karapiet, Avril Elgar, Paul Bazely and Nicholas Le Prevost.

The Last of the Haussmans

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Stephen Beresford's The Last of the Haussmans is a play about a family in terminal decline that looks at the legacy of the Baby Boomers generation. It was first performed in the Lyttelton auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 19 June 2012 (previews from 12 June).

The play is set in and around the Haussman family home, a 1930s art deco property on the South Devon coast, now in a state of virtual dereliction. Judy Haussman, an incorrigible hippy – still anarchic and feisty, but growing old – holds court in outrageous fashion. After an operation, she’s joined by her resentful daughter, Libby, and younger gay son, Nick, an ex-junkie. Also there is Judy's sharp-eyed granddaughter, Summer; a local doctor, Peter; and a troubled teenager, Daniel, who makes use of the family’s crumbling swimming pool. Over a few sweltering months they alternately cling to and flee a chaotic world of all-day drinking, infatuations, long-held resentments, free love and failure.

The National Theatre premiere was directed by Howard Davies and designed by Vicki Mortimer, with Julie Walters as Judy, Helen McCrory as Libby, Rory Kinnear as Nick, Isabella Laughland as Summer, Taron Egerton as Daniel and Matthew Marsh as Peter.

The Last Witch

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's The Last Witch tells the story of the last woman to be executed for witchcraft in the British Isles. It is based on the historical account of Janet Horne, the alleged witch of Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands, who was executed in 1727.

The play was commissioned by Edinburgh International Festival and co-produced by the Festival and the Traverse Theatre Company. It opened at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, on 23 August 2009.

The play's action takes place in Dornoch, northern Scotland, in 1727. In the claustrophobic heat of summer, a woman’s apparent ability to manipulate the power of land and sea stirs suspicion. Janet Horne can cure beasts, call the wind and charm fish out of the sea. Or can she? Men hold all the power in this society and any woman with an independent mind is cruelly shamed. Horne’s refusal to deny the charge of witchcraft puts her in dangerous opposition to the new sheriff, Captain David Ross. Her defiance threatens not only her own life but also that of her daughter Helen.

Munro depicts the wildness of the Scottish highlands and the grinding poverty that accompanies life in such an unforgiving landscape. The play also walks a line of ambiguity between whether Janet actually practised witchcraft or if she was merely the victim of trenchant misogyny.

The Edinburgh premiere was directed by Dominic Hill and designed by Naomi Wilkinson. It was performed by Kathryn Howden (as Janet Horne), Hannah Donaldson, George Anton, Vicki Liddelle, Neil McKinven, Andy Clark, Ryan Fletcher and Simon Smith.

The Late Middle Classes

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Simon Gray’s play The Late Middle Classes is a funny yet melancholic look at the frustrations, secrets and guilt of middle-class respectability in 1950s England. It was first performed at the Palace Theatre, Watford, on 23 March 1999 (previews from 19 March) and produced on tour by the Ambassadors Theatre Group/Turnstile Group Limited.

The play opens in 'the present'. Holliday ('Holly') Smithers, a man in his forties, has come to visit the ageing Thomas Brownlow, who taught him music as a child. The action then rewinds to the Smithers’ household in the early 1950s. Holly, now a twelve-year-old boy, is caught between his parents’ conflicting emotional needs. His mother Celia is bored to distraction by her marriage and fills her time with tennis and gin. Her pathologist husband, Charles, is buried in his work amongst the living and the dead. As their gifted son, Holly begins to take music lessons with Brownlow, who develops an unhealthy obsession with the child.

The play touches obliquely on the subject of paedophilia and shows us, in the opening and closing scenes, how Brownlow’s connection to Holly has afflicted him his whole life. The play also dissects how children can become vessels for the desires and ambitions of the adults closest to them.

The premiere production was directed by Harold Pinter and designed by Eileen Diss. The cast was Nicholas Woodeson, James Fleet, Sam Bedi, Harriet Walter and Angela Pleasance. Following the performances at the Palace Theatre, Watford, the production toured to Brighton, Plymouth, Bath, Woking and Richmond.

The play was revived at the Donmar Warehouse, London, on 1 June 2010 (previews from 27 May) in a production directed by David Leveaux and designed by Mike Britton. The cast was Robert Glenister, Peter Sullivan, Harvey Allpress, Laurence Belcher, Felix Zadeck-Ewing, Helen McCrory and Eleanor Bron.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

James Fritz’s play Lava is a drama set in the aftermath of a asteroid strike on the capital city, exploring grief, masculinity and the power of expression. It was first performed at Nottingham Playhouse on 15 June 2018, produced by Fifth Word and Nottingham Playhouse.

The play is set in an unspecified English town, in a time period not far removed from the present. A young man called Vin has lost the power of speech, and the only person who seems to notice is his friendly colleague Rach, who resolves to find out what’s troubling him and help him find his voice again. Vin's condition seems to be related to recent events in London, which has been hit by a small asteroid, displacing thousands of people. But Rach's concern for Vin, and their growing intimacy, is overtaken when her family take in Jamie, an articulate and charismatic survivor of the asteroid incident. Suddenly Vin is no longer Rach's first priority, and the resulting tensions bring the truth about Vin’s silence to the surface.

The premiere production was directed by Angharad Jones and designed by Amy Jane Cook. It was performed by Fred Fergus (as Jamie), Safiyya Ingar (as Rach), Emma Pallant (as Vicky) and Ted Reilly (as Vin). 

Lawrence After Arabia

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Howard Brenton’s Lawrence After Arabia is a biographical play exploring the later years in the life of T.E. Lawrence, once celebrated as Lawrence of Arabia. It was commissioned to mark the centenary of the start of the Arab revolt, and was first performed at Hampstead Theatre, London, on 28 April 2016.

The play's action, according to an author's note in the script, 'takes place at Shaw’s Corner, the home of George Bernard and Charlotte Shaw, in the Hertfordshire village of Ayot St Lawrence, in August 1922 and February 1923, and in the head of T.E. Lawrence'. Wearied by his romanticised persona and worldwide fame, disgusted with his country and himself, Lawrence has disappeared from public life. Craving normality, he has retreated to the idyllic calm of Ayot St Lawrence, where he occupies lodgings on the top floor of the home of Mr and Mrs Bernard Shaw. But England wants its hero back, and Lawrence finds himself trapped in his love/hate relationship with the limelight, tormented by ghosts and haunted by broken promises.

The Hampstead Theatre premiere was directed by John Dove and designed by Michael Taylor. The cast was Sam Alexander, William Chubb, Geraldine James (as Charlotte Shaw), Khalid Laith, Jack Laskey (as T.E. Lawrence), Rosalind March and Jeff Rawle as George Bernard Shaw.

Leave Taking  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Winsome Pinnock's play Leave Taking is a drama about a woman who came to England from the West Indies, bringing up her two daughters in North London, and the frictions between the two countries and cultures. It was first performed at the Liverpool Playhouse Studio, on 11 November 1987, was toured by the National Theatre's education department in 1994, and was revived at the Bush Theatre, London, on 24 May 2018.

The play is set in North London. Enid Matthews is a hard-working mum who arrived in London from Jamaica and who, abandoned by her husband, has struggled to bring up their two teenage daughters, Viv and Del. Viv is a high achiever with the chance of going to university, while Del has lost her job and stays out all night. When Enid takes her daughters to see Mai, a clairvoyant obeah woman, for some traditional Caribbean soul-healing, secrets are spilled and the family can only heal its divisions by truthfully confronting who and what they are.

In her Introduction to the published script (Nick Hern Books, 2018), Winsome Pinnock writes: 'I wrote Leave Taking, my first full-length play, when I was twenty-three years old. I wanted to make Enid the heroine of the play because I couldn’t recall ever seeing such a character – a hospital cleaner – as the lead in a British play. I specifically wanted to write about the black British experience as distinct from African American culture because producers often seemed to think that they are interchangeable. ... Years after the play was produced at the National Theatre (1994) I was told that it was the first play written by a black British woman to have been produced there. I also learned that it was the first time that a black woman writer and director (Paulette Randall) had worked together at the venue.'

The Liverpool Playhouse production was directed by Kate Rowland and designed by Candida Boyes. It was performed by Ellen Thomas (as Enid), Natasha Williams (as Del), Lisa Lewis (as Viv), Lucita Lijertwood (as Mai) and Tommy Eytle (as Broderick).

The Bush Theatre production in 2018 was directed by Madani Younis and designed by Rosanna Vize. It was performed by Adjoa Andoh (as Mai), Seraphina Beh (as Del), Nicholle Cherrie (as Viv), Wil Johnson (as Brod) and Sarah Niles (as Enid). 


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

A short monologue first performed as part of the Ten by Twenty season at Atlantic Stage 2, the Atlantic Theater, New York, on 14 June 2006.

Ken’s dog Dolly has gone missing. Without her, all he’s left with are his fading memories and the sound of the sea for comfort.

Leavings was performed at the Atlantic Theater by Peter Maloney and directed by Neil Pepe.

Lela & Co.

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Cordelia Lynn's play Lela & Co. explores conflict and capitalism through a monologue for a female performer that is continually interrupted by male voices. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London, on 3 September 2015.

The play unfolds as a monologue delivered by a female character called Lela, continually interrupted by male characters (all played by a single male performer). Lela tells her own story, beginning with her life in a village in the mountains. When she meets a business associate of her brother-in-law, he marries her and takes her across the border into the middle of a war zone. There he locks her up and sells her body to male clients, mostly soldiers. As the years go by, this 'family business' becomes trickier as the margins shrink, and life becomes ever harder for Lela, trapped in her tiny room. Even the peacekeeper, who sympathises with her plight, takes advantage of her. Is there any hope for Lela?

The Royal Court premiere was directed by Jude Christian and designed by Ana Inés Jabares-Pita. It was performed by Katie West and David Mumeni.

Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Sam Steiner's Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons is a play for two actors that explores how a couple communicate, along with ideas about censorship, oppression and free speech. It was first performed at the Warwick Arts Centre in January 2015, produced by Walrus. It subsequently transferred to the National Student Drama Festival in March 2015, where it won three awards, including judges’ commendations for writing and direction. The production visited Latitude Festival in July before a sell-out run at Zoo Southside at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and transferred to Camden People’s Theatre on 24 November 2015.

The play comprises a series of generally short scenes, presented non-chronologically, between Bernadette and Oliver, who first meet in a cat cemetery and soon move in together. Oliver's past relationship with the unseen Julie arouses feelings of jealousy and inadequacy in Bernadette, while the latter’s job as a divorce lawyer presents problems for Oliver. But things become more complicated when the government introduces a draconian hush law giving everyone a daily limit of just 140 words each. For a while the two of them come up with ways to communicate with each other within the constraints of the law, but they soon find that without words and the freedom to use them, they're powerless.

The premiere production was directed by Ed Franklin, with Euan Kitson as Oliver and Beth Holmes as Bernadette.

Let the Right One In

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Jack Thorne’s adaptation of Let the Right One In is based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Låt den rätte komma in, 2004) and the subsequent Swedish-language film version (dir. Tomas Alfredson, 2008, with a screenplay by Lindqvist). It is a dark and visceral coming-of-age vampire love story tackling issues of teenage loneliness, bullying and sexuality.

It was commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland and Marla Rubin Productions Ltd, and first produced by the National Theatre of Scotland by arrangement with Marla Rubin Productions Ltd and Bill Kenwright, in association with Dundee Rep Theatre, at Dundee Rep Theatre on 5 June 2013. It was subsequently produced at the Royal Court Theatre, London, and in the West End.

The play begins with a man being attacked on a woodland path. Then we meet Oskar, a lonely teenage boy who lives with his mother on a housing estate at the edge of town, and who is being badly bullied at school. News spreads through the neighbourhood of a spate of sinister killings. But Oskar is drawn to Eli, the young girl who has just moved in next door. Eli doesn’t go to school, and never leaves the flat by day. Sensing in each other a kindred spirit, the two become devoted friends. What Oskar doesn’t know is that Eli has been a teenager for a very long time.

Thorne's adaptation focuses on the close bond between the two misfit teenagers as their friendship blossoms into a tentative romance. He also gives a perhaps greater emphasis than Lindqvist to the bullying that Oskar receives at the hands of his classmates, developing the irony at the heart of the story: Eli might not be human, but she shows Oskar a human kindness that seems lacking in others around him.

The premiere production at Dundee Rep was directed by John Tiffany with choreography by associate director Steven Hoggett. It was designed by Christine Jones. The cast included Rebecca Benson as Eli and Martin Quinn as Oskar.

The production opened at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, London, on 29 November 2013, and transferred to the Apollo Theatre, London, on 7 April 2014 (previews from 26 March).

The production won the 2014 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Theatre.

The Libertine

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Stephen Jeffreys' play The Libertine is a historical drama and comedy of manners about John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, a Restoration poet, playwright and renowned libertine. It was first performed, in a production by Out of Joint, at the University of Warwick Arts Centre on 20 October 1994 and then on tour, culminating at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 6 December 1994.

The play opens with a prologue delivered by Rochester direct to the audience, in which he declares: 'I am John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester and I do not want you to like me.' As the play opens, Rochester is already a writer and dramatist of reputed brilliance, a sexual adventurer of polymorphous tastes, a feverish alcoholic and a mischief-maker. He amuses the degenerate but shrewd King Charles II, but his irreverence is losing acceptability and Rochester is sternly reminded that 'there is a time to be for things.' Nevertheless, he continues to compulsively test the limits of his society. Most perilous of all, he falls madly in love with Elizabeth Barry, a young actress he attempts to mould. But Barry is more than his match, and Rochester's downfall is set in motion.

The Out of Joint premiere was directed by Max Stafford-Clark and designed by Peter Hartwell. It was performed by David Westhead (as Rochester), Cathryn Bradshaw, Amanda Drew, Bernard Gallagher, Barnaby Kay, Katrina Levon (as Elizabeth Barry), Tim Potter (as Charles II), Nicola Walker, Jason Watkins and Tricia Thorns.

It was premiered in America in 1996 by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in a production directed by Terry Johnson, with John Malkovich as Rochester.

A feature film adaptation with a screenplay by Stephen Jeffreys was released in 2004, directed by Laurence Dunmore and starring Johnny Depp as Rochester and John Malkovich as Charles II.

A major revival of the play by the Theatre Royal Bath and Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2016 was directed by Terry Johnson and starred Dominic Cooper as Rochester.

The Light Burns Blue

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Silva Semerciyan's The Light Burns Blue is a play inspired by the true story of the Cottingley Fairies: the case of two young cousins, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, who in 1917, having purportedly taken photographs of real fairies near their home in Cottingley, Yorkshire, were invited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes) to speak at a conference in London about their supernatural encounters.

The play was commissioned by Tonic Theatre in partnership with Nick Hern Books as part of Platform, an initiative comprising a series of big-cast plays with predominantly or all-female casts, written specifically for performance by school, college and youth-theatre groups, with the aim of addressing gender imbalance and inequality in theatre.

The Light Burns Blue was published on 11 June 2015, along with two other plays inaugurating the Platform series: by This Changes Everything by Joel Horwood and Second Person Narrative by Jemma Kennedy.

The play's action takes place over the summer of 1917 in the village of Cottingley and in London. The scenes flash back and forth between Cottingley around the time when the photographs were taken, and the London hotel where excited supporters have gathered to hear for themselves about the supposed evidence for another world. Winifred, a sceptical reporter from a local newspaper, has disguised herself as an adolescent girl in order to infiltrate the Cottingley coterie, and is now about to expose Elsie and Frances as frauds. But as she looks at the facts, she begins to think there's more to Elsie's story than a simple hoax.

The play was first performed at the Bristol Old Vic on 15 April 2015 in a production directed by Lisa Gregan and designed by Max Johns.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Steve Waters' play Limehouse is a dramatisation of the clandestine meeting of the so-called Gang of Four that in 1981 led to a breakaway from the UK Labour Party and ultimately the formation of the Social Democratic party. It was first performed at the Donmar Warehouse, London, on 8 March 2017 (previews from 2 March).

The play is set in Limehouse, London, in a house belonging to Labour MP David Owen and his wife Debbie, on Sunday 25 January 1981. Disillusioned with his party's leftwing bias, Owen has convened a meeting of supposedly like-minded figures: Bill Rodgers, Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins. Torn between ancestral loyalty to Labour and dismay at what they see as its current zealotry, the four are desperate to find a political alternative. Should they split their party, divide their loyalties, and risk betraying everything they believe in? Would they be starting afresh, or destroying forever the tradition that nurtured them? As the day proceeds, the time for decisive action draws ever nearer.

The Donmar Warehouse production was directed by Polly Findlay and designed by Alex Eales. It was performed by Nathalie Armin as Debbie Owen, Tom Goodman-Hill as David Owen, Paul Chahidi as Bill Rodgers, Debra Gillett as Shirley Williams and Roger Allam as Roy Jenkins.

Little Baby Jesus

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Arinze Kene's play Little Baby Jesus is a lyrical triptych of monologues about three inner-city teenagers. It was first performed at Oval House Theatre, London, on 25 May 2011 in a co-production by Oval House, BEcreative and the English Touring Theatre.

The play is set in present-day inner-city London, and is structured as three intercut, loosely connected monologues 'relaying the exact point that a teenager becomes an adult'. Kehinde is older than his years, a boy with an innocence and a passion for mixed-race girls. Straight-talking Joanne has a lot of attitude, but she also has to cope with her mum's mental illness. And Rugrat, the class clown, underachiever and playground loudmouth, who just wants to be part of the gang. The play traces the lives of the three teenagers as they take the difficult path to adulthood.

In a short article about the play published on the publisher's blog [http://nickhernbooksblog.com/2011/06/03/london-via-lagos/], Kene writes, 'For me, growing up was all a battle between who I was inside and who I thought I should be – in order to fit in. It went from the trainers I wore right down to the type of girls I was meant to fancy (In Little Baby Jesus, in Kehinde’s case, it’s mixed-race girls, or ‘mixed-race-girl syndrome’). I dumbed myself down a lot to fit in, and don’t believe I gave up the front until after my teens – luckily there was still enough "me" left to salvage.'

The Oval House production was directed by Ché Walker and designed by Chris Gylee, with Fiston Barek as Kehinde, Seroca Davis as Joanne and Akemnji Ndifernyen as Rugrat.

Little Dolls

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Nancy Harris's Little Dolls is short play about a woman seeking help from a therapist to overcome a traumatic episode in her past. It was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, on 23 October 2008 as part of The Broken Space season.

The play's action takes place in a 'room without light'. Vicky, an anxious young woman in her late twenties, is in counselling with John to overcome her intense fear of darkness. It emerges that her fear stems from a traumatic episode in her past when, while on a school trip, her best friend was murdered in the hostel bed next to her as she slept. As she continues to tell her story, John becomes increasingly controlling and sinister until we come to question whether he is trying to make her better or make her worse.

The Bush Theatre premiere was directed by Charlotte Gwinner, with Sinead Matthews as Vicky and John Ramm as John.

Little Eagles

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's Little Eagles tells the true story of Sergei Pavlovich Korolyov, chief designer and unsung hero of the Soviet space programme. Under the leadership of this remarkable man, the USSR trounced the Americans in the space race throughout the fifties and for much of the sixties, achieving a series of firsts including the first human in space and Earth orbit.

The play was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company to mark the 50th anniversary of the first flight by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, one of Korolyov's 'little eagles'. It was first performed at Hampstead Theatre, London, on 16 April 2011.

The play charts the transformation in Korolyov’s life from his humble beginnings as a dying prisoner in one of Stalin’s punishing gulags to national hero after pioneering a rocket-development programme. But success came at a high price – Korolyov was only allowed to pursue his passion for space exploration as long as he continued to make long-range missiles for the government. A combination of ill health, the Cuban missile crisis and seismic shifts within the USSR itself meant that this brilliant engineer was never able to capitalise on his success.

In an author's note in the published script, Munro writes that 'Little Eagles is intended as the first part of a trilogy of plays about the years of space exploration that formed such a significant backdrop to my childhood. ... In writing about Sergei Pavlovich Korolyov and the others who inhabit this play, I have had to take some glaring liberties with time and space and imagined events and emotions which may never have occurred or, if they did, may not have occurred as I’ve chosen to portray them. I’ve invented some characters, condensed others and turned great chunks of detailed human history into a few short scenes. I don’t think I’d have been doing my job if I hadn’t dared to mess things around like this, it was a very necessary outcome to the wonderful wrestling match any writer goes through turning real events (in this case on an epic scale) into drama.'

Little Eagles was the second play by Munro to be commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company following her earlier play The Indian Boy (2006).

The RSC production was directed by Roxana Silbert and designed by Ti Green. The cast included Darrell D'Silva (as Korolyov), Dyfan Dwyfor, Brian Doherty, Noma Dumezweni, Greg Hicks and Samantha Young.

Little Gem

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Love, sex, birth, death and salsa classes. Three generations of women. One extraordinary year.

Little Gem won the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award, 2009, the BBC Northern Ireland Drama Award in Association with the Stewart Parker Trust and the Fishamble Award for Best New Irish Writing.

Amber has fierce bad indigestion and the sambucas aren't getting rid of it. Lorraine attacks a customer and her boss wants her to see a psychiatrist. Kay's got an itch 'down there' that Gem can't scratch. And if all that wasn't bad enough, Little Gem makes his presence felt and – well – life is never the same again.

Little Platoons

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

A satirical comedy and a family drama, Little Platoons takes the pulse of Coalition Britain and explores what the retreat of the state and the growth of people power really means for its citizens.

When Rachel’s ex threatens to remove their son from London to sort out his education, she joins a local group of parents setting up a ‘free school’. Her new friends, led by the charismatic Nick, want to create an education their children can enjoy not endure. But the vision of the Big Society they seek to create tears their lives apart. Waters’ play opens up the debate around free schools and highlights the double standards that some people apply when it comes to schooling their children. Ultimately, the education project becomes a battleground between those putting themselves before the greater social need, and vice-versa. The play also exposes the complexities behind David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ policy, which aimed to give local communities more power.

Little Platoons premiered at the Bush Theatre in London in 2011 as part of the theatre’s Schools Season.

Little Revolution

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Alecky Blythe's Little Revolution is a verbatim-theatre play about the London Riots, a series of related disturbances, including widespread looting and arson, that took place in several London boroughs (as well as in other towns and cities in England) in August 2011. It was first performed at the Almeida Theatre, London, on 26 August 2014.

The play was created and performed using the verbatim-theatre techniques developed by Blythe with her company Recorded Delivery. It is composed entirely of material drawn from recordings made by Blythe, who personally interviewed many of the participants and witnesses of the riots. Those conversations, in edited form, are then reproduced by actors on stage. The script is a transcription of the final selection of material, although in rehearsal and performance the actors work from an in-ear audio feed to ensure that the original conversations are replicated with meticulous verisimilitude. Some names of interviewees have been changed

The play focuses on responses to the riots within an area of Hackney in east London. Blythe puts herself into the story and shows how she was tangentially caught up in the riots as they happened: in one episode, a group of looters catch her taking pictures and ask to inspect her camera before moving on. The main focus is on the response of two disparate groups in the aftermath of events. Middle-class residents who live around Clapton Square start a fund to come to the aid of a looted local shopkeeper and hold a street party to bring people together. Meanwhile, female activists on the adjacent, much poorer, Pembury estate start a campaign against the scapegoating of young people, stop-and-search police tactics and the social inequalities at the heart of the problem.

The Almeida Theatre premiere was directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins with a set designed by Ian MacNeil. The main cast, which included Roni Ancona, Lloyd Hutchinson, Imogen Stubbs, Rufus Wright and Alecky Blythe herself, was joined on stage by a community chorus.

Lives of the Great Poisoners

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Lives of the Great Poisoners is a multidisciplinary theatre piece with elements of text, dance and song on the theme of history’s most infamous poisoners. Caryl Churchill collaborated on its creation with composer Orlando Gough and choreographer Ian Spink. It was first performed at the Arnolfini, Bristol, on 13 February 1991 in a production by Second Stride, the performance collective co-founded by Ian Spink, Siobhan Davies and Richard Alston.

The play has three parts, each featuring an infamous poisoner: Dr Crippen, who was hanged in 1910 for the murder of his wife Cora; Medea, the mythical figure who killed her ex-husband Jason’s new wife with poisoned robes; and Madame de Brinvilliers, the notorious seventeenth-century poisoner who learnt the tricks of the trade from her lover. The three stories are linked together by the figure of Midgley, an American inventor and industrial chemist.

The piece requires nine performers: four dancers, three singers, one singer/actor and one actor. Many of the scenes in the play take place between performers of different disciplines: a singer and a dancer, for instance, or an actor and a singer. The music and the text were written first and formed the backbone for the choreography, which grew out of improvisational work in rehearsal. The dance interludes were then woven into the existing text.

The Second Stride production at the Arnolfini in 1991 was directed by James Macdonald and designed by Antony McDonald with choreography by Ian Spink.

Lizzie Siddal

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Jeremy Green's play Lizzie Siddal is a historical drama charting Elizabeth Siddal's rise from obscurity to fame as an artist's model associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, her own artistic aspirations, and her tragic early death. It was first performed at the Arcola Theatre, London, on 20 November 2013.

The play begins with a short scene set in Highgate Ceremony in October 1869, seven years after the death of Lizzie Siddal, with two men charged with opening her coffin. The action then flashes back to trace her rise from the obscurity of a bonnet shop to model for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, group of young painters – including William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti – who were bent on revolutionising the Victorian art world. Inspired by their passion, Lizzie throws herself headlong into their lives and their art. She nearly dies in the creation of Millais' painting ‘Ophelia’ (lying in a tin bath of water so cool she catches a chill), but the painting is a triumph. Lizzie wants more and dares to dream of being an artist in her own right. Falling in love with the charismatic Rossetti, she becomes his muse, and fulfils her dream of being an independent artist. But independence isn't lasting and she suffers from ill-health and Rossetti's fickle affections, finally succumbing to a laudanum addiction that has fatal consequences. The final scene, seven years after her death, shows Rossetti agreeing to have her coffin opened so that he can retrieve the poems he had buried with her.

The Arcola Theatre premiere was directed by Lotte Wakeham and designed by David Woodhead. It was performed by Tom Bateman (as Dante Gabriel Rossetti), Daniel Crossley (as John Ruskin), Simon Darwen (as William Holman Hunt), James Northcote (as John Everett Millais), Emma West (as Lizzie Siddal) and Jayne Wisener.

London Road

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

London Road is a verbatim-theatre musical with book and lyrics by Alecky Blythe and music by Adam Cork. It is about the impact on the community around London Road in Ipswich of the series of murders carried out there by Steve Wright in 2006, and the frenzied media interest that ensued.

It was developed by the National Theatre, London, and first performed there in the Cottesloe auditorium on 14 April 2011 (previews from 7 April).

The musical traces the impact of the murders on the residents of London Road over a period from December 2006 until July 2008. The community had struggled for years with the soliciting and kerb-crawling that they frequently encountered in the area. As Steve Wright, the occupant of number 79, was arrested, charged and then convicted of the murders, residents grappled with the media frenzy and what it meant to be at the epicentre of this tragedy.

The book and lyrics are based on Alecky Blythe's extensive recorded interviews with the real residents of London Road, and composer Adam Cork’s score is a response to the melodic and rhythmic speech patterns captured on those recordings.

The National Theatre premiere was directed by Rufus Norris and designed by Katrina Lindsay. The cast was Clare Burt, Rosalie Craig, Kate Fleetwood, Hal Fowler, Nick Holder, Claire Moore, Michael Shaeffer, Nicola Sloane, Paul Thornley, Howard Ward and Duncan Wisbey.

Critical reaction was generally favourable with the Evening Standard describing it as ‘a startling, magically original success’, and Time Out declaring that 'this is something very new for the musical form, a powerful, beautiful and unsettling articulation of the ambivalence that underpins all communities'. Less enthusiastically, Brian Logan in The Guardian reported that 'the inarticulacy gets frustrating' and complained that 'the conventionally dramatic parts of this story are [often] happening offstage'.

London Road won the 2011 Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical and the production was revived in the National Theatre's larger Olivier auditorium with performances from 28 July 2012. This time the critical response was even more favourable, with Michael Billington in The Guardian reporting that 'This miraculously innovative show finds a new way of representing reality [and] opens up rich possibilities for musical theatre'.

A feature film version of the musical, written by Alecky Blythe and again directed by Rufus Norris, was released in June 2015. It starred Olivia Colman, Anita Dobson, Tom Hardy and the entire original cast of the National Theatre production.

Long Time Dead

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's Long Time Dead is a play about the camaraderie between mountaineers, exploring the risks they are willing to take in the obsessive pursuit of their dreams. The play was first performed by Paines Plough at The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth, on 26 October 2006.

The action of the play is split between a mountainside and a London hospital. Grizzly, Dog and Gnome live to climb mountains. Grizzly used to climb with his brother, Pete. But Pete died of a cerebral oedema on the mountain and his body is still there somewhere. Now Grizzly climbs with Dog, a young man who found climbing (and meaning) late in life and who is in a tremendous hurry to get to the top. But when Gnome (real name Naomi), who often accompanies the pair, has an accident and almost dies, the ageing Grizzly makes a pact: if she recovers, he will quit climbing.

The Paines Plough production was directed by Roxana Silbert and designed by Miriam Buether, with Lesley Hart as Gnome, Garry Cooper as Grizzly, Jon Foster as Dog and Jan Pearson as the Widow.

The production was revived at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in August 2007 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Love and Information

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information is a kaleidoscopic play of short scenes addressing contemporary issues about knowledge, technology and communication, and our capacity for love. It was first performed at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, London, on 6 September 2012.

The play is in seven sections, numbered 1 to 7, each comprising a number of short scenes. In the published script, the scenes are each given a title (eg 'Secret', 'Affair', 'Fate', 'Chinese Poetry'). A 'Note on the Text' specifies that 'The sections should be played in the order given but the scenes can be played in any order within each section'. There are also a number of 'random' scenes, printed at the end of the published text, that can be performed at any stage of the play. Lines are unattributed to characters, and the characters 'are different in every scene' (with the possible exception of some of the random scenes), so there are potentially over a hundred characters in the play. The script rarely gives any context for the scenes, although sometimes a stage direction clarifies the action (eg 'One person tells a story to another').

The Royal Court premiere was directed by James Macdonald and designed by Miriam Buether. It was performed by Nikki Amuka-Bird, Linda Bassett, Scarlett Brookes, Amanda Drew, Susan Engel, Laura Elphinstone, John Heffernan, Joshua James, Paul Jesson, Billy Matthews, Justin Salinger, Amit Shah, Rhashan Stone, Nell Williams, Josh Williams and Sarah Woodward.

Love and Information was premiered in the US by New York Theatre Workshop at the Minetta Lane Theatre in February 2014 in a production directed by James Macdonald.

Love, Lies and Taxidermy

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Alan Harris's play Love, Lies and Taxidermy is an offbeat love story set in a small town in Wales. It was first produced by Paines Plough, Sherman Cymru and Theatr Clwyd, and was first performed in Paines Plough’s Roundabout venue at Summerhall on 5 August 2016 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The play is set in the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil, where Valentine, the son of a Polish taxidermist, meets Ashley, the daughter of a debt-ridden ice-cream salesman called Mr Tutti-Frutti. They meet at a medical-research facility and tentatively embark on a romance, via a first date in Tesco's supermarket. Their relationship is obstructed, however, when Valentine’s attempts to save his parents’ marriage collide with Ashley’s attempt to save her dad’s business.

The original production was performed by three actors, although an author's note in the published script states that the play was 'written for any number of performers, and the lines of dialogue can be divided up as future productions see fit.'

The premiere production was directed by George Perrin. It was performed by Remy Beasley, Richard Corgan and Andy Rush.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Caryl Churchill's Lovesick is a short radio play that takes a satirical look at the abuses of psychiatry. It was first broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 8 April 1967.

Hodge is a psychiatrist practising aversion therapy to rid his patients of sexual or romantic preferences that interfere with their lives. But he falls in love with Ellen, a patient he's treating who is in love with Kevin, a homosexual man whom Hodge is also treating. His medical interfering produces unexpected results when Kevin’s disapproving brother, Robert, switches the cures so that Kevin falls in love with Hodge and Ellen ends up despising all men.

The BBC Radio 3 production was directed by John Tydeman, with Anthony Hall as Hodge, Harold Kasket as Max, Gudrun Ure as Ellen, Ian Thompson as Robert, Clive Merrison as Kevin and Margaret Robertson as Jessica.

Low Level Panic

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Clare McIntyre's play Low Level Panic is considered a modern feminist classic, examining the effects of society's objectification of women. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in association with the Women’s Playhouse Trust on 11 February 1988, winning the Samuel Beckett Award the following year.

The play is set in a bathroom in a house shared by three women: Jo and Mary (both in their twenties) and Celia ('possibly older but not much'). There are two scenes set outside the house, and the voices of two men are heard in scene two. Jo is worried that she is fat; she doesn’t have as much sex as she would like but fantasises about having rough sex with lorry drivers and being a beautiful, mute woman with amazing legs having sex with a yacht-owning millionaire. Mary, however, is the recent victim of a sexual assault, and wonders if the way she was dressed contributed to her assault. Celia believes that the right shade of eye shadow can secure life-long happiness. Forced to share the bathroom, the three women confide in each other, as well as with the mirrors, revealing their private fantasies and anxieties.

The premiere production was directed by Nancy Meckler and designed by Lucy Weller. It was performed by Caroline Quentin as Jo, Lorraine Brunning as Mary and Alaine Hickmott as Celia.

Lynndie’s Gotta Gun

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's Lynndie's Gotta Gun is a short play subtitled 'A play for former US soldier Private Lynndie England'. It was written in the light of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal of 2004, following which US Army Reserve Soldier Lynndie England was sentenced to three years in prison for her part in the abuse.

The play presents Lynndie as a children's party clown who attacks an unnamed Man with a variety of weapons including a large fish, a frying pan and a cream cake. The Man says he is looking for his son. Finally, after an ineffectual interrogation, she shoots him dead. When a ten-year-old boy enters, she turns the gun on him.

Lynndie’s Gotta Gun was first performed by Artistas Unidos, a not-for-profit community organisation, at Teatro Nacional D. Maria II in Lisbon on 16 June 2005. The piece formed part of the Confêrenca de Imprensa e Outras Aldrabices, a collection of sketches inspired by the writings of Harold Pinter. The play was directed by Jorge Silva Melo and designed by Rita Lopes Alves and João Calvário. It was performed by Gonçalo Waddingtin and Joana Bárcia.

Made in China

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Mark O'Rowe's Made in China is a blackly comic drama set in an imaginary Dublin underworld full of martial arts, rogue cops and savage low-lifes. It was first performed on the Peacock stage of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, on 10 April 2001 (previews from 5 April).

The play has three male characters: Paddy, Hughie and Kilby. Paddy’s weapons of choice are baseball bats and fists. Kilby (who imagines himself as something of an artist) prefers the skill of karate, which he practises on Hughie. Hughie just wants to break the legs of the guy who put the one-legged palmist in hospital. A dreadful accident sets in motion a violent tug-of-war between two criminal footsoldiers over the loyalty of a third. Self-loathing, guilt and loneliness emerge in a frenzied narrative, culminating in a breakneck battle for survival.

In his foreword to Mark O'Rowe Plays: One (Nick Hern Books, 2011), O'Rowe recalls that the play 'was an attempt, I suppose, to transpose the style, or if not the style, then the energy, or if not the energy, then at least the milieu of Howie the Rookie (though it doesn’t really) into the type of play where characters actually talk to each other and not the audience – call it a proper play, or a well-made play, or a play which aspires to being a well-made play – and it culminates in a fight where two of the men take on the third who has the advantage of martial-arts training and the fact that he’s armed with a prosthetic leg, and which really needs to be impeccably and spectacularly choreographed to work.'

The Abbey Theatre production was directed by Gerard Stembridge and designed by Bláithín Sheerin, with Luke Griffin as Paddy, Anthony Brophy as Hughie and Andrew Connolly as Kilby.

Mad Forest

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Caryl Churchill's play Mad Forest is a response to events in Romania following the overthrow of Nicolae Ceaușescu in December 1989. It presents a kaleidoscopic and often surreal look at life under oppression and the painful difficulties of lasting change. It was first staged by students at the Central School of Speech and Drama, London, on 25 June 1990. It was subsequently performed at the National Theatre, Bucharest, from 17 September, and opened at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 9 October 1990.

In early 1990, Churchill was asked by Mark Wing-Davey, director of the Central School of Speech and Drama, if she would like to join his students on a trip to Bucharest, to work with students there and then to write a play for the Central students' end of year show. Ceaușescu’s dictatorship had been overthrown only a few months before and, as Churchill writes in her introduction to Plays: Three (Nick Hern Books, 1998), 'Emotions in Bucharest were still raw and the Romanian students and other people we met helped us to understand what Romania had been like under Ceaușescu as well as what happened in December and what was happening while we were there.'

The play focuses on the reactions of ordinary people to the sudden and dramatic events that unfolded in late December 1989, focusing in particular on two families, the Vladu family and the Antonescu family. Part I tells the story of Lucia Vladu’s engagement and wedding to an American, which arouses the suspicions of the Securitate (Romania’s secret police). Part II features testimony from a host of Romanian citizens (none of whom have appeared in Part I), about their experiences of the revolution. Part III begins with a dialogue between a vampire and a dog before reintroducing several characters from Part I, now in a hospital having sustained injuries in the fray. They discuss the nature and the impact of the revolution.

The play's premiere at the Central School of Speech and Drama was directed by Mark Wing-Davey and designed by Antony McDonald, and performed by final-year students from the drama school. It was subsequently performed by the same cast at the National Theatre in Bucharest and at the Royal Court Theatre in London.

The Maiden Stone

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's The Maiden Stone is a play about a group of women struggling to get by in the harsh world of north-east Scotland in the early nineteenth century. It was first performed at Hampstead Theatre, London, on 21 April 1995 (press night on 27 April), having already won the inaugural Peggy Ramsay Award.

Down-on-her luck and out-of-work actress Harriet and her family are wandering the roads of Scotland looking for food, shelter and the opportunity to perform. But they are not the only ones travelling the highways and byways – there’s traveller and storyteller Bidie and her family, always looking for a break; and the dangerously beguiling stranger Nick, whose presence on the road might turn out to be more of a curse than a blessing.

In a note accompanying the published text, Munro writes that it is a play about her own birthplace. 'The language of the piece is the native dialect as I remember it and is in no sense historical but a living language. For the Hampstead production we reproduced this with minimal compromise and I don’t think the rhythm or the integrity of the play would survive any attempt at translation.'

The Hampstead Theatre premiere was directed by Matthew Lloyd and designed by Robin Don (set) and Anne Sinclair (costumes). It was performed by Frances Tomelty, Carol Ann Crawford, Shirley Henderson, Sarah Howe, Paul Higgins, Alexander Morton and Anthony Colbert.

Making Noise Quietly

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Robert Holman's trilogy of short plays, Making Noise Quietly, explores the devastating impact of war on ordinary lives. It was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, on 26 June 1986.

In the first play, Being Friends, two young men meet by chance in a field at Oxen Hoath, Kent, in July 1944. Oliver Bell is a conscientious objector, spending the war working on a farm; Eric Faber is a roaming artist, uninhibited by his homosexuality. As doodlebugs fly overhead, they talk of the war and its morality, and an intense bond forms between them.

In the second play, Lost, Geoffrey Church, a young naval Lieutenant, visits the home of May Appleton in Redcar, Cleveland, in June 1982. He has come to inform her that her son Ian has been killed in action in the Falklands.

The third play, Making Noise Quietly, is set in August 1986 in the Black Forest in south-west Germany. Helene Ensslin, a German Jewish woman and concentration camp survivor, plays host to a brutish British squaddie, Alan Tadd, and his autistic stepson, Sam. Alan, haunted by his experiences in the Falklands, has been abandoned by his wife, and takes out his violent, inarticulate feelings on the son, whom she also left behind, with cruel beatings. As a result the traumatised Sam now communicates only with feral screeches and by writing words on his arm. Yet beyond the violence both the man and the boy clearly care for each other deeply, and Helene attempts to break the cycle of anger and abuse.

The Bush Theatre premiere was directed by John Dove and designed by Kenny Miller. The cast was Jonathan Cullen, Ronan Vibert, Jean Boht, Jonathan Coy, Helen Ryan, Paul Copley and Daniel Kipling.

The trilogy was revived by the Oxford Stage Company at the Whitehall Theatre, London, on 14 April 1999 after touring to Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester and Edinburgh. It was directed by Deborah Bruce and designed by Anthony MacIlwaine. The cast was John Lloyd Fillingham, Peter Hanly, Eleanor Bron and Philip Dowling.

It was revived again at the Donmar Warehouse, London, on 19 April 2012 in a production directed by Peter Gill and designed by Paul Wills. The cast was Ben Batt, Susan Brown, Jordan Dawes, Sara Kestelman, John Hollingworth, Matthew Tennyson, Lewis Andrews, Jack Boulter and Ethan Hammer.

Mary Barton

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro’s stage adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1848 novel Mary Barton presents a panorama of Manchester life in Victorian England, from the mill owners’ new prosperity to the thousands of ordinary people living and dying in their factories. It was first performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, on 6 September 2006.

The action of the play takes place in Manchester in the 1840s. Mary Barton, a mill worker’s daughter, has been taken on as an apprentice in an upmarket dress shop making gowns for the daughters of the newly moneyed mill owners. Her father, John Barton, is active in the campaign for workers’ rights. Mary has been promised to her childhood friend, Jem, but becomes distracted by one of the mill owner’s sons, Harry Carson. Her aunt Esther, former mill worker turned prostitute, warns John about Mary’s behaviour, arguing that she too fell for a rich man when she was younger, with disastrous consequences. But Mary sees Carson as an opportunity to better herself and so is unprepared when she finds herself plunged into a maelstrom of murder, intrigue and romance.

The Royal Exchange premiere was directed by Sarah Frankcom and designed by Liz Ascroft. It was performed by Kellie Bright (as Mary Barton), Lucy Black, Roger Morlidge, Hannah Storey, William Ash, Will Tacey, Toby Sawyer, Christine Mackie, Penny Layden, David Sterne and Patrick Bridgman.

Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Liz Lochhead's play Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off is about the bitter rivalry between Mary, Queen of Scots, and her cousin and fellow ruler, Elizabeth I of England. The story is presented in a distinctive cabaret style, with much of the dialogue in the 'Braid Scots' vernacular. It explores the deep sectarian divisions within Scotland and dramatises the fateful moment the country rejected Mary’s Catholicism for the Protestantism of anti-feminist revolutionary John Knox.

It was first performed by the Communicado Theatre Company at the Lyceum Studio Theatre, Edinburgh, on 10 August 1987. It was revived, with a revised text, by the National Theatre of Scotland in 2009, when it was first performed at Druimfin, Tobermory, Mull, on 18 April at the start of a tour.

The play's action is introduced and narrated by a crow-like character known as La Corbie. Following the death of her husband, the Dauphin of France, the beautiful and staunchly Catholic Mary Stuart returns to the British Isles to rule Scotland, a country she neither knows nor understands. Ill-prepared to rule in her own right, Mary has failed to learn what her Protestant cousin, Elizabeth Tudor, knows only too well: that a queen must rule with her head, not her heart. All too soon the stage is set for a deadly endgame in which there can only be one winner and one queen to rule the green island.

In her introduction to the revised text published in 2009, Lochhead describes the play as 'a debate about the then current state of affairs between Scotland and England. ... Margaret Thatcher is not Queen Elizabeth the First, but questions of women and power – and how to hold on to it – are always there as we consider either icon. There was at that time a real sense of frustration in Scotland, a need for us to tell our own stories and find our own language to tell it in.'

The 1987 Communicado Theatre production was directed by Gerard Mulgrew and designed by Colin MacNeil. It was performed by Anne Wood, Myra McFadyen, Anne Lacey, Alison Peebles, Stuart Hepburn, Gerard Mulgrew, Frank McConnell and John Mitchell.

The 2009 National Theatre of Scotland revival was directed by Alison Peebles (a member of the original cast) and designed by Kenny Miller. It was performed by Joyce Falconer, Jo Freer, Angela Darcy, John Kielty, Lewis Howden, Marc Brew and Owen Whitelaw.

Mary Shelley

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Helen Edmundson's Mary Shelley is a play that explores the extraordinary life of the author of Frankenstein. It was first performed in a co-production between Shared Experience, Nottingham Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, on 16 March 2012.

The play centres on a crucial episode in Mary's early life. Her parents, radical feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft and political philosopher William Godwin, are struggling under the weight of heavy debts. When young poet Percy Bysshe Shelley becomes a regular visitor to the house, his financial stability and dangerous charisma charms the family, especially Godwin’s three young daughters. But it is feisty young Mary who becomes the object of his affections. The play details their scandalous elopement when Mary was just sixteen and the impact it has upon her stepmother, her sisters and above all, her troubled father. Three years after this life-changing event, Mary would write one of the greatest novels in the English language, Frankenstein, which changed the literary landscape forever.

The Shared Experience production was directed by Polly Teale and designed by Naomi Dawson. The cast was Kristin Atherton, Flora Nicholson, Sadie Shimmin, Shannon Tarbet, William Chubb and Ben Lamb. It subsequently toured to Nottingham Playhouse; Liverpool Playhouse; Hull Truck Theatre; Northern Stage, Newcastle; Oxford Playhouse; Winchester Theatre Royal and the Tricycle Theatre, London.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Joe White’s debut play Mayfly is a family drama exploring grief and emotional rebirth in the aftermath of tragedy. It was first performed at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, on 19 April 2018.

The play is set in rural Shropshire, over a single day in the month of May (reflecting the brief but dramatic lifecycle of the mayfly). It begins with Ben, 45, being saved from drowning by a younger man, Harry, 27, in what it transpires was an ineffectual suicide attempt. Ben returns home to his family: to his daughter Loops, 25, who is today exchanging her usual camouflage attire for her mother's red dress in preparation for a date; and to his wife, Cat, 46, who, though consumed with grief for her dead son, has been awakened to new possibilities by reading her stars: ‘Today a very special person will appear from out the blue.’

The Orange Tree production was directed by Guy Jones and designed by Cécile Trémolières. It was performed by Evelyn Hoskins (as Loops), Simon Scardifield (as Ben), Irfan Shamji (as Harry) and Niky Wardley (as Cat). 

Me, As A Penguin

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Tom Wells’ professional debut play is an offbeat comedy about coming out, knitting, penguins and Battenberg cake.

Stitch is hitting the gay scene in Hull. Or at least dipping his toe in the water whilst staying with his heavily pregnant sister, Liz, and her shabby sofa-loving partner, Mark. Little do they know however that Stitch is harbouring a baby penguin in their bathroom having nicked it from a local aquarium and carried it home in his Transformers lunchbox. Meanwhile, his burgeoning relationship with Dave is not quite all he hoped it would be and his sister is about to go in to labour complicating his life even further. Wells’ first play showcased his gift for warm-hearted and truthful comedy with a distinctive Northern bent.

Me, As A Penguin premiered at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds in 2009 as part of their new-writing season, Northern Exposure. It subsequently went on a regional tour including a run at the Arcola Theatre in London in 2010.

Mehndi Night

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Fin Kennedy's Mehndi Night is a play about resentment and forgiveness on the eve of a wedding, and explores the challenges of a cross-cultural identity in 21st-century Britain. It was the first play to emerge from a groundbreaking collaboration between Kennedy and the Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets, East London. It was first performed by students from the school on 2 August 2007 at Venue 45, Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The title of the play refers to the traditional pre-wedding Hindu celebrations. Akin to a ‘hen’ night, it is a time for the female members of a community to gather together to sing, dance and bless the bride-to-be. However, when an uninvited visitor turns up bringing with her painful memories of the past, everyone is forced to confront their own fears, prejudices and longings.

In an author's note in the published edition, Fin Kennedy writes that the play 'marked the first time in British theatre history that a play had been written entirely for and about British Bangladeshi women. This was very much a result of the way in which the play was developed, with ten committed fifteen-year-olds over several months; their desire to create a play for a mainstream adult audience about the women of their community, and the effect of the modern world on their relationships with one another.'

The Edinburgh Fringe premiere was directed by Julia Voce and designed by Kollodi Norton. It was performed by Marjana Rahman, Khadija Sharaz Khanom, Nabarupa Deb, Sabina Aktar, Thania Sultana, Rubena Begum, Farhana Hussain, Aklima Begum, Fahmina Begum and Rebeka Yasmin.


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.

The Mill on the Floss

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Helen Edmundson's adaptation of George Eliot's novel, The Mill on the Floss, was first performed by Shared Experience Theatre Company in association with the Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, on 17 March 1994.

Outgrowing – but still hopelessly devoted to – her family, Maggie Tulliver befriends the disfigured Phillip Wakem, son of a local lawyer. But their fathers soon become embroiled in a bitter legal dispute that only the prosperous Wakem can win and the Tullivers find fate dealing them the first harsh hand of many. With their father dead, and their precious mill gone, the family must face up to their cold future together.

Edmundson's adaptation re-imagines Eliot's novel by having three different actors play the heroine Maggie. The three actors play distinct and sometimes contradictory facets of Maggie's character, at times sharing the performing space and interacting with each other. In a review of the Shared Experience production, the drama critic of the Evening Standard noted that 'The device of the three Maggies expresses beautifully the heroine's emotional conflict, with number one arguing for impetuous passion against number two's moral restraint as number three is drawn into a relationship with her cousin's wooer.' The Guardian declared the device ‘thrillingly effective in performance’.

The Shared Experience production was directed by Nancy Meckler and Polly Teale, and designed by Bunny Christie. The cast was Simeon Andrews, Shirley Henderson, Michael Matus, Buddug Morgan, Ian Puleston-Davies, Simon Robson, Clara Salaman and Helen Schlesinger. It toured nationally, including a run at the Tricycle Theatre, London, in May 1994.

Shared Experience revived the play at the New Ambassadors in the West End in 2001.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Mint is theatre director Clare Lizzimore’s debut play concerning the effects that a spell in prison has on one man and his family.

It’s 1998 and Alan is serving a substantial prison sentence. Over the course of the years various members of his family visit him: his sisters Stephanie and Nicola and his mother and father, Charlotte and Simon. As time passes he misses major family events, such as Stephanie’s wedding and the birth of her first child, a girl called Amber. As he moves to a freer open prison, the discomfort of his family is clear to see, especially in his taciturn father. The second part of the play takes place five years later. It is now 2003 and Alan has been released and is living back at home. Behind the joy however there lurks a distinct feeling of unease as Alan struggles to adjust to life after prison. His niece Amber, now an inquisitive seven-year-old, wants to know what her beloved Uncle did wrong but it seems nobody in the family is willing to discuss past history, nor have they really come to terms with it, except perhaps Alan himself.

Mint was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2013 as part of the Open Court Festival.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Liz Lochhead's Miseryguts is an adaptation of Molière’s classic comedy of manners, The Misanthrope (Le Misanthrope). It was first performed on 22 March 2002 at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh (press night on 23 March). It followed her earlier adaptation of Molière's Tartuffe, which premiered at the Royal Lyceum in 1986.

Molière’s The Misanthrope is a bitter comedy about a worldly sophisticate who cannot help telling uncomfortable truths about his fellow men and women. But yet, despite himself, he falls deeply and painfully in love with one particular woman, the vivacious Celia. And though he acknowledges what he sees as the superior virtues in some of his own female admirers, his heart still lies with her.

Lochhead's version transposes the action of the play into the world of media and politics in 21st-century, devolved Scotland, allowing for a rich seam of contemporary satire.

In her introduction to the 2002 edition of the play, Lochhead describes her approach to adapting the play: 'Le Misanthrope is Molière’s darkest, strangest, therefore potentially most hilarious anti-comedy. What could be less funny than to find yourself deeply and hopelessly in love with someone of whom you know you deeply and fundamentally disapprove? ... Nothing in this that couldn’t be set in the here-and-now. So (unlike Tartuffe) the characters got new names as well as flats in the New Town and Leith. Do they speak Scots? Well, they speak the way these particular Scotsmen and women do right now. Some Scots, yes, some Americanisms, lots of clichés and buzz-words, much casual profanity, I’m afraid. Like life.'

The Royal Lyceum premiere was directed by Tony Cownie and designed by Geoff Rose. It was performed by Jimmy Chisholm, Greg Powrie, John Kielty, Cora Bissett, Ronnie Simon, Barrie Hunter, Helen Lomax and Janette Foggo.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's play Misterman, written for a solo performer, is a study of one man’s descent into religious mania in small-town Ireland. It was first produced by Landmark Productions and Galway Arts Festival, and performed at the Black Box Theatre, Galway, as part of the Galway Arts Festival, on 11 July 2011 (previews from 7 July). (An earlier version of Misterman, performed by Enda Walsh and directed by Pat Kiernan, was produced by Corcadorca Theatre Company at the Granary Theatre in Cork in April 1999.)

The play's action is set in 'an abandoned depot/dilapidated factory' in Inishfree, where loner Thomas Magill lives out his days, interacting with the people of the town via tape-recordings he has made of their voices, or by impersonating them himself. Magill is a fierce evangelist, disgusted by the ungodliness of the townspeople. He knows that jovial Dwain Flynn is a miserable drunk, that Timmy O’Leary enslaves his lovely mother, and that sweet Mrs Cleary is a blasphemous flirt. He is convinced that it’s up to him to save the sinful place, but his deranged mental state leads to dire consequences for him and the town.

The Landmark Productions/Galway Arts Festival production was directed by Enda Walsh and designed by Jamie Vartan. It was performed by Cillian Murphy (who had appeared in Walsh's Disco Pigs fifteen years earlier) with the voices of Marcella Riordan, Alice Sykes, Eanna Breathnach, Niall Buggy, JD Kelleher, Simone Kirby, Mikel Murfi, Morna Regan, Eileen Walsh and Barry Ward. The production transferred to St Ann’s Warehouse, New York, on 30 November 2011, and the Lyttelton auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 18 April 2012 (previews from 14 April).


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Arinzé Kene's play Misty is a drama combining gig theatre, spoken word, live art and direct address, exploring contemporary inner-city London, and confronting the assumptions and expectations underpinning the act of telling a story. It was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, on 21 March 2018, transferring to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End from 8 September 2018.

The play begins with a character called 'Virus' performing a routine about London, which he likens to a living organism. His account of a violent incident on a night bus and its aftermath is intercut with sequences in which 'Arinzé’ wrestles with the story he wishes to tell, derided by his friends and family who complain that he is writing a play that caters to white expectations of black lives.

The Bush Theatre production was directed by Omar Elerian and designed by Rajha Shakiry. It was performed by Arinzé Kene, with Shiloh Coke and Adrian McLeod as the Musicians, and Mya Napolean and Rene Powell as the Little Girl. 


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Vivienne Franzmann’s play Mogadishu is a cautionary tale of a teacher who intervenes on behalf of a troublesome student, only to find her actions rebounding on herself to disastrous effect. It was the joint winner of the 2008 Bruntwood Playwriting Competition and was first performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, on 26 January 2011.

When white secondary-school teacher Amanda is pushed to the ground by black student Jason, she’s reluctant to report him as she knows exclusion could condemn him to a future as troubled as his past. But when Jason decides to protect himself by spinning a story of his own, Amanda is sucked into a vortex of lies in which victim becomes perpetrator. With the truth becoming less clear and more dangerous by the day, it isn’t long before careers, relationships and even lives are under threat.

Franzmann worked as a secondary-school teacher in London for twelve years before submitting Mogadishu, her first full-length play, for the Bruntwood Playwriting Competition.

The Royal Exchange premiere was directed by Matthew Dunster and designed by Tom Scutt. The cast was Malachi Kirby, Tara Hodge, Farshid Rokey, Tendayi Jembere, Savannah Gordon-Liburd, Hammed Animashaun, Michael Karim, Julia Ford, Shannon Tarbet, Ian Bartholomew, Christian Dixon and Fraser James.

The production transferred to the Lyric Hammersmith, London, with performances from 3 March 2011.

The play was revived by the Royal Exchange and Lyric Hammersmith as a touring production in 2012, playing at the Liverpool Playhouse from 30 January at the start of a UK tour.

Mogadishu was awarded the 2010 George Devine Award.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

A slick, violent black comedy set in the Soho clubland of the1950s, Mojo premiered at the Royal Court, London, on 14 July 1995. It was a sensational debut, billed as the first time since John Osborne's Look Back in Anger that a first play was premiered on the Royal Court's main stage – though in fact Butterworth had co-written several earlier plays and a short film, The Night of the Golden Brain (Carlton, 1994).

The play is set in Ezra's Atlantic Club in Soho during the summer of 1958. Silver Johnny, Ezra's seventeen-year-old rock 'n' roll protégé, is causing a sensation at the club. Two petty crooks, Sweets and Potts, high on amphetamines, introduce us to this criminal milieu. They are joined by two others, Skinny, and Baby, who is Ezra's son. Baby enjoys tormenting, even torturing, Skinny. While the youngsters mess about, a local gangster, Sam Ross, kills Ezra, and takes Silver Johnny. Terrified, the gang, now led by Mickey (Ezra's number two) barricade themselves in the club and prepare for an attack. Although he is Ezra's son and heir, Baby realises that Mickey is now in charge and suggests they run the club together, but Mickey rejects him. In the power struggle that ensues, Baby demonstrates that he's more than a match for Mickey – and nobody escapes unscathed.

The Royal Court premiere, directed by Ian Rickson and designed by Ultz, starred Tom Hollander as Baby, with Andy Serkis as Potts, Matt Bardock as Sweets, Aiden Gillen as Skinny, and David Westhead as Mickey. The production was restaged in October 1996 with a new cast at the Royal Court's temporary base at the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End.

Critical reception was generally enthusiastic, although some perceived a moral void at the heart of the story, and the play was widely compared with the films of Quentin Tarantino and the plays of Harold Pinter.

Mojo won the Olivier, Evening Standard, George Devine, Critics' Circle and Writers' Guild awards. Versions of the play were produced in New York, Chicago, Johannesburg and Sydney, its popularity making it one of the most significant plays of the decade.

Mojo Mickybo

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Owen McCafferty’s play Mojo Mickybo is about a friendship between two boys growing up in Belfast – in the summer of 1970 – a friendship that at first is immune to the sectarian violence taking place around them, but which nonetheless is ultimately destroyed by it. The play was first performed at Andrews Lane Studio, Dublin, on 15 October 1998.

The play's action is set in Belfast over the summer of 1970. Mojo and his friend Mickybo are two nine-year-old boys from opposing sides of the sectarian divide, but whose friendship at first transcends the violence erupting around them in the summer of 'The Troubles'. They are 'thick as two small thieves', playing headers, being mouthy, building huts, spitting from cinema balconies. The action is played as theatrical flashback: the actors playing the two boys 'should be in their late thirties/early forties', each of them also playing a variety of other characters (including the boys' parents), often inhabiting a world of fantasy, such as re-enacting their favourite film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The two performers constantly slip in and out of roles and imaginary worlds, with the violence of The Troubles only obliquely impacting on them – until finally their friendship is destroyed in a way that they only later come to understand.

The Dublin premiere was directed by Karl Wallace and designed by Terry Loane, with Niall Shanahan as Mojo and Fergal Mcllherron as Mickybo.

The production subsequently toured in Ireland and Scotland in the autumn of 1998 and spring of 1999, with David Gorry as Mojo and Darren Lawless as Mickybo.

It then transferred to the United States in the spring of 2000, with David Gorry as Mojo and Richard Dormer as Mickybo.

A feature film version, Mickybo and Me, was released in 2004, adapted and directed by Terry Loane, with Julie Walters, Ciarán Hinds and Gina McKee in supporting roles.

The play was revived at the Arcola Theatre, London, in 2007, afterwards transferring to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Deirdre Kinahan's play Moment is about a family's difficulty in confronting a past crime committed by one of its members. It was first performed at the Solstice Arts Centre, Co. Meath, Ireland, on 12 November 2009. The production transferred to the Bush Theatre, London, on 25 February 2012.

The action of the play takes place in September 2009 in the kitchen of the Lynch family house in Chapelizod, Dublin. When Nial Lynch (aged 30) comes back to the family home, unexpectedly bringing his devoted English partner Ruth, their presence is not altogether welcome. His mother, Teresa, is suffering from apparent dementia. His married sister Ciara greets him grudgingly. And his other sister, Niamh, is outright hostile. Nial has built himself a reputation as a painter in Cork, but it's a moment from the more distant past that haunts them all: Nial has spent five years in a juvenile prison for the murder, fourteen years earlier, of Niamh's then best friend, Hilary Kelly. And Niamh can't quite accept that Nial has served his time.

The play's premiere was directed by David Horan and designed by Maree Kearns. The cast was Ronan Leahy, Rebecca O’Mara, Maeve Fitzgerald, Deirdre Donnelly, Kate Nic Chonaonaigh, Karl Quinn, Will Joseph Irvine and Aela O’Flynn.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Lucy Kirkwood's Mosquitoes is a play about families and particle physics. It was first performed in the Dorfman auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 25 July 2017 (previews from 18 July).

The play revolves around the difficult relationship between two sisters: Alice and Jenny (age 41 and 39 respectively at the start of the play). Alice is a scientist based in Geneva, working on the Large Hadron Collider as it starts up in 2008, and is embarking on the most exciting work of her life, searching for the Higgs Boson particle. Her clever, if disturbed, son Luke is fiercely critical of the environmental consequences of his mother’s work. Jenny, meanwhile, lives in Luton, sells medical insurance, looks after their aged mum, Karen, and loses a baby daughter after scare stories about the MMR vaccine. When tragedy throws them together, the collision threatens them all with chaos.

The National Theatre production was directed by Rufus Norris and designed by Katrina Lindsay. It was performed by Olivia Williams (as Alice), Olivia Colman (as Jenny), Paul Hilton, Joseph Quinn (as Luke), Sofia Barclay, Amanda Boxer (as Karen), Yoli Fuller, Vanessa Emme, Cait Davis and Ira Mandela Siobhan.

Mothers Against

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

David Edgar's Mothers Against is one part of a two-play cycle under the collective title Continental Divide, set against the background of a bitterly fought American governor’s election in an unspecified Pacific-coast state. Mothers Against examines the Republican campaign, while the other part, Daughters of the Revolution, looks at the same election from the Democrat perspective.

Across the two plays, Edgar explores what has happened to the revolutionary fervour that took hold of both the Right and the Left in the 1960s, and how it has been carried over into the politics of the twenty-first century.

Both plays were jointly commissioned and produced by Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Mothers Against was first performed in The New Theatre, Ashland, Oregon, as part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on 1 March 2003 before transferring to Berkeley Repertory Theatre, with performances from 6 November 2003.

Mothers Against takes the form of an intense chamber play as Republican candidate Sheldon Vine prepares at home for a vital televised debate in a gubernatorial race once thought a lost cause for the Republicans, but which is turning into a contest that is too close to call. Ironically, fiscal conservative Sheldon Vine's jump in the polls arises from voter ignorance of his true, relatively liberal position on two interconnected hot-button issues: the shooting of an eco-terrorist by a Latino security guard and 'Proposition 92'. The latter is a loyalty oath that would make it illegal for registered voters to support a group that pursues its ends through force. However, securing the necessary votes to win the election exposes ideological rifts in the campaign team. His handlers struggle to position the candidate on these matters while maintaining his approval ratings, trying as much as they can not to betray the candidate's beliefs. Edgar injects dynastic struggles into this mix as Sheldon's campaign manager and older brother, Mitchell, is resentful of being passed over for the candidacy because of his seeming mismanagement of the family fortune, while Sheldon's daughter, Deborah, may know more than she reveals about the slain eco-terrorist.

The premiere at Oregon Shakespeare Festival was directed by Tony Taccone and designed by William Bloodgood, with a cast including Bill Geisslinger as Sheldon Vine.

The play received its UK premiere at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 6 March 2004, with the original American cast directed by Tony Taccone. It subsequently played at the Barbican, London, as part of their BITE Festival, with performances from 20 March 2004.

Mother Teresa is Dead

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Helen Edmundson's play Mother Teresa is Dead explores the thorny issue of Western guilt towards the Third World. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 20 June 2002 – the first original play of Edmundson’s to be staged in since The Clearing in 1993.

Mark arrives in a village near Madras to try and find his wife, Jane. He doesn't understand what could have driven her to abandon their young son. India is hot, dusty and poor, and a long way from their comfortable life in London. But Jane can't explain why she needed to escape or how she ended up looking after children in India – or what is in the white plastic bag she’s been holding on to since she got there.

The Royal Court production was directed by Simon Usher and designed by Anthony Lamble. The cast was Diana Quick, John Marquez, Harry Dillon and Maxine Peake.

A Mouthful of Birds

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

A Mouthful of Birds is a collaboratively written theatre piece by Caryl Churchill and David Lan, combining text and dance to explore the nature of madness, possession and violence. It was inspired by Euripides’ Bacchae. The play was first performed in association with Joint Stock Theatre Company at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 27 November 1986 and opened at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 27 November 1986.

The play consists of 32 short vignettes relating to the theme of madness and possession. Lena is a mother who hears voices commanding her to drown her baby. A new spirit guide is taunting voodoo practitioner Marcia whilst Yvonne is a desperate alcoholic. Meanwhile, businessman Paul falls inexplicably and suddenly in love with a pig. A female prison warder bemoans the appearance of a new prisoner who is killing all her female inmates using magic, while Doreen is suffering from grotesque delusions. Herculine Barbin, played by a women but dressed as a man, delivers a monologue at the start of Act Two, while Dionysos, played by a man in a white petticoat, performs a series of dances that punctuate the action.

A Mouthful of Birds was developed in workshop with Joint Stock Theatre Company over a period of twelve weeks. As Caryl Churchill explains in the Introduction to Plays: Three, 'Ian Spink (choreographer) worked with the company continuously, making some material before any text was written, and some to fit specifically into scenes that were written to have dance in them.'

The Joint Stock production was directed by Ian Spink and Les Waters, and designed by Annie Smart. The cast included Tricia Kelly, Dona Croll, Christian Burgess, Vivienne Rochester, Philippe Giraudeau, Stephen Goff, Marjorie Yates and Amelda Brown.

Mouth to Mouth

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Kevin Elyot's Mouth to Mouth is an intricately plotted drama about a man haunted by feelings of guilt and shame over an incident in his past. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 1 February 2001.

Playwright Frank is suffering from AIDS. Having just been through a rather nasty eye operation, the play opens with him talking to his close friend, Laura. The serenity of the scene is interrupted by the ominous sound of a motorbike revving in the distance, before flashing back to Frank’s lunch the day before with his preoccupied doctor, Gompertz. He tries to confess to an incident from his past that is haunting him but can’t quite seem to find the right moment before we are hurled back in time once more to the incident in question. The play explores notions of guilt and death, as well as our inability to truly know even our closest acquaintances.

The Royal Court premiere was directed by Ian Rickson and designed by Mark Thompson, and performed by Michael Maloney, Lindsay Duncan, Adam Godley, Peter Wight, Andrew McKay, Lucy Whybrow and Barnaby Kay.

The production transferred to the Albery Theatre, London, on 17 May 2001.

Mr Foote’s Other Leg

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Ian Kelly’s play Mr Foote's Other Leg is a comedy about the life of the eighteenth-century satirist, impressionist and comedian Samuel Foote, exploring the nature of celebrity and an obsession with fame. Based on Ian Kelly's award-winning biography, Mr Foote's Other Leg: Comedy, tragedy and murder in Georgian London (Picador, 2012), the play was first performed at Hampstead Theatre, London, on 21 September 2015 (previews from 14 September), transferring to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London, on 4 November 2015 (previews from 28 October).

The play is set in London in the mid-eighteenth century. After a prelude in which two people attempt to steal Foote's amputated leg from the Hunterian Collection, the action tracks back twenty years to cover the period from Foote's tutelage under Charles Macklin in the 1740s until his involvement in a controversy that saw his fall from grace in the 1770s.

In an introduction to the published playtext (Nick Hern Books, 2015), Ian Kelly writes: 'in adapting [my biography of Samuel Foote] for the stage I have striven to put across the spirit of Foote – one of the most extraordinary men ever to have worked in the theatre – as much as the factual detail of his bizarre career. At the same time I wanted to express some of the style of the Georgian age – a period I love – but for a modern audience, and therefore the scabrous, sexually knowing underbelly of the Augustan Age is also represented here in all its four-letter, rakehelly, occasionally rancid ridiculousness – and lack of political correctness.'

The Hampstead Theatre premiere was directed by Richard Eyre and designed by Tim Hatley. The cast was Simon Russell Beale (as Foote), Dervla Kirwan, Joseph Millson, Forbes Masson, Micah Balfour, Jenny Galloway, Ian Kelly, Colin Stinton, Sophie Bleasdale and Joshua Elliott.

Mr Incredible

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Camilla Whitehill's Mr Incredible is a one-man play about modern love and old-fashioned entitlement. It was first produced by Longsight Theatre at the Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, on 4 August 2016. An earlier version of the play was first performed at VAULT Festival, London, on 10 February 2016.

The play is a dramatic monologue spoken by a 31-year-old character called Adam, whose four-year relationship with Holly, five years his junior, has just ended. Adam describes how the couple met, came to live together and then drifted apart. He wanted children, but Holly wanted to develop a career as a journalist and to seize the opportunities available to young women in the modern world.

The Longsight Theatre production was directed by Sarah Meadows and designed by Justin Nardella and Catherine Morgan. It was performed by Alistair Donegan.

Nick Hern Books is one of the UK’s leading specialist performing arts publishers, with a vast collection of plays, screenplays and theatre books in their catalogue. They also license most of their plays for amateur performance.