When he took over as artistic director of the Royal Court earlier this year (See News, 6 Feb 2007), Dominic Cooke promised a programming shift towards plays that shone an uncomfortable spotlight on the people who comprise the majority of theatre audiences, the liberal middle classes.

This new focus, he said, would be typified by the first play he chose to direct as artistic director (and his first since winning this year’s Best Director Olivier for last year’s RSC revival of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible), the UK premiere American Bruce Norris’ The Pain and the Itch, which duly opened last week (21 June 2007, previews from 14 June) in the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs for a limited season to 21 July.

A cosy family Thanksgiving dinner for six. Someone - or something - is leaving bite marks in the avocados. Clay and Kelly's daughter Kayla has an itch and Carol can't remember who played Gandhi … The Pain and the Itch premiered at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater in 2005 before a sell-out run Off-Broadway.

The cast for the UK premiere includes Matthew Macfadyen (of Spooks and Pride and Prejudice fame), Sara Stewart, Andrea Riseborough, Peter Sullivan, Amanda Boxer and Abdi Gouhad. The production is designed by Robert Innes Hopkins.

TO SCROLL THROUGH ALL THE PAIN & THE ITCH 1st NIGHT PHOTOS,
JUST CLICK ON THE "NEXT >" LINKS BELOW THE FOLLOWING FRAME.

For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the post-show party at the Royal Court along with the company, author and director and other first night guests including Keeley Hawes (actress-wife and Spooks co-star of Macfadyen), Denis Lawson, Lindsay Duncan, Whatsonstage.com Award winner Helen Schlesinger (The Crucible) and playwright Richard Bean.

-by Terri Paddock