This new focus, he said, would be typified by the first play he chose to direct as artistic director, the UK premiere American Bruce Norris’ The Pain and the Itch, which duly opened last night (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.
First night critics were unanimous in declaring that Dominic Cooke has indeed delivered on his promise in spades, successfully breaking with the working-class, kitchen sink traditions more usually associated with the Royal Court. They hailed The Pain and the Itch as “savage satire” that is “wittily ingenious”, “devastating”, “abrasive” and “very funny”, and drew comparisons between Bruce Norris’ writing and that of David Mamet, Mike Leigh and, most especially, Edward Albee. All of the performers in Cooke’s “superbly acted” production were also singled out for praise, with Matthew Macfadyen commended for making his own break away from the type of screen roles he’s best known for.
- by Terri Paddock
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