Review: Ear for Eye, Royal Court

A cast of 15 black actors fills the stage. That this itself is worth remarking on is just the tip of why Debbie Tucker Green’s incendiary play about racial injustice feels so important.

Part one comprises several short scenes, spiked with pointed repetitions, exploring attitudes towards prejudice, protest and police brutality across generations in the US and Britain. Which is better, steady progress or furious change?

Some are written in stylishly elliptical dialogue, but best are the rhythmical, lyrical speeches: this is beautiful writing about horrific things, from being tear-gassed to being strip-searched.

Part two is a long, circling debate between an excruciatingly condescending white academic and a young black woman that slowly exposes the contortions made so that white-supremacist killers aren’t deemed terrorists. 

Part three shows film of white people chillingly reading aloud segregation laws and British slave codes.

Two hours without an interval, it’s not an easy watch. Nor should it be. But for all that it may be discomforting, Green’s writing is also exhilarating, her direction penetrating, and the performances poised yet potent. 

This is a riveting piece of theatre that demands you don’t look away.

Opinion: By cancelling Andrea Dunbar’s play, the Royal Court has silenced an urgent female voice

Published in The Stage on December 15, 2017

The Royal Court deserves a long and loud round of applause for the way it has responded to revelations about sexual harassment in the theatre industry. Vicky Featherstone has led the way, with bold initiatives and bold decision-making. Continue reading “Opinion: By cancelling Andrea Dunbar’s play, the Royal Court has silenced an urgent female voice”

John Tiffany on bringing Road back to the Royal Court and how he made West End magic with Harry Potter

Published in Evening Standard on July 27, 2017

He’s the man who made the magic of Harry Potter come alive on stage: John Tiffany pulled off the near impossible trick of crafting a blockbuster show that pleased both obsessive fans and snooty critics alike. Continue reading “John Tiffany on bringing Road back to the Royal Court and how he made West End magic with Harry Potter”

No script, no rehearsals: behind the scenes of Matt Smith’s unusual new play

Published in The i on July 6, 2016

“Something extraordinary has to come out of this process, or I’ve put everyone through hell for nothing.” It’s a dramatic statement, but delivered with odd calmness by playwright and director Anthony Neilson. Continue reading “No script, no rehearsals: behind the scenes of Matt Smith’s unusual new play”

Alistair McDowall: the pioneering young playwright on setting a play on Pluto

Published in The Independent on Sunday on March 20, 2016

Last year, there was one word on every in-the-know theatregoer’s lips: Pomona. Alistair McDowall’s dystopian drama, which imagined the horrors lurking beneath an abandoned strip of land in the centre of Manchester, was treacle-black and wickedly funny, with a twisting, non-linear chronology that was correspondingly nightmarish. Continue reading “Alistair McDowall: the pioneering young playwright on setting a play on Pluto”

Stars of Escaped Alone on Caryl Churchill’s new play

Published in The Independent on Sunday on January 24, 2016

A new Caryl Churchill play is always big news – and this winter, we’ve been treated to two. Following her short but scalpel-sharp play Here We Go at the National Theatre, we have Escaped Alone at the Royal Court. Not much is known about it, except that it centres on four women drinking tea in a garden and discussing “catastrophes”. And that those four women are played by four brilliant British actresses, doyennes of the stage and screen, whose combined acting experience stretches to more than 170 years. Continue reading “Stars of Escaped Alone on Caryl Churchill’s new play”

In praise of Caryl Churchill

Published in The Independent on Sunday on April 12, 2015

Who is Britain’s greatest living playwright? Tom Stoppard has often been bestowed with this honour, as he was, again, in the barrage of press marking his comeback play The Hard Problem earlier this year. But, for many, there’s another clear candidate, Caryl Churchill – and her claim to the title is set to be showcased in the months ahead, with three major revivals of her work.

First, a production of Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, her early play about the English Civil War, opens next week at the National Theatre. Then in July comes Manchester International Festival’s take on her 1994 twisted fable The Skriker, starring Maxine Peake and with music by Antony Hegarty and Nico Muhly, followed by the transfer to the Young Vic of Michael Longhurst’s acclaimed production of cloning drama A Number. Continue reading “In praise of Caryl Churchill”