London’s Bush Theatre presents two world premieres over the coming months: David Eldridge’s M.A.D., set in a time of Cold War paranoia, and Steve Thompson’s Damages, about tabloid newspaper hackery.

At the height of the Cold War, M.A.D. stood for Mutually Assured Destruction. Eldridge’s family drama unfolds in 1984, in the aftermath of the terrifying post-apocalyptic TV drama Threads, and then nearly 20 years later. It explores the gap between the lifestyles and aspirations of parents and son.

David Eldridge was still at university in Exeter when he sent his first play Serving It Up to the Bush in 1996. His subsequent plays have included Under the Blue Sky and the adaptation of Dogme film Festen, currently enjoying a sell-out season at the Almeida Theatre.

M.A.D. runs at the Bush from 23 April to 22 May 2004 (previews from 21 April). It’s directed by Hettie Macdonald and designed by Jonathan Fensom. The cast are Lewis Chase, Gerald Lepkowski, Daniel Mays, Joanne McInness and Lee Ross.

It’s followed, from 4 June to 3 July 2004 (previews from 2 June), by Roxana Silbert’s premiere production of Damages, Thompson’s first professionally produced play. In a tabloid newspaper office, there’s only an hour to go before the presses roll when a controversial topless photo of a children’s TV presenter mysteriously arrives. Is this front page scoop a career maker or breaker, or a crushing libel settlement in disguise?

- by Terri Paddock