At the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, the season stars with Richard Bean’s latest play, Harvest, running from 8 September 2005 to 1 October 2005 (previews from 2 September). The comedy, directed by Wilson Milam, spans 91 years, from 1914 to 2005, and charts the rise and fall of a Yorkshire small holding through four generations of the same family. Bean’s previous plays at the Royal Court include Honeymoon Suite, Under the Whaleback and Toast.
Harvest is followed, from 14 to 29 October 2005 (previews from 11 October 2005) by the return of the verbatim drama My Name Is Rachel Corrie (See News, 3 May 2005). The one-woman play, performed by Megan Dodds and conceived and directed by Alan Rickman, had a sell-out premiere season in April in the Upstairs studio. Rachel Corrie was an American student killed in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer whilst protecting a Palestinian home in Gaza. The play uses extracts of the writings she left behind to explore what happened to the young woman and what motivated her political stance.
Alice Trilogy completes the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs schedule, running from 16 November to 10 December 2005 (previews from 10 November). Tom Murphy’s drama explores the three ages of one woman. In 1980, in the afternoon murk of her attic, Alice appears to be losing her grip on reality. In 1995, she has summoned a lost love to meet her by the gasworks wall. In 2005, at the airport - if the worst has happened, how can it be so bearable? Royal Court artistic director Ian Rickson directs this world premiere.
One of Ireland’s leading contemporary dramatists, Murphy’s other plays include The Sanctuary Lamp, A Whistle in the Dark, Famine, Conversations on a Homecoming, Too Late For Logic, The Patriot Game and She Stoops to Folly. Though now seen more regularly on screen, Juliet Stevenson’s many stage productions include numerous Burn This, Private Lives, and Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden, which premiered at the Royal Court and transferred to the West End, winning Stevenson an Olivier for Best Actress. The actress’ film and television credits include Being Julia, Nicholas Nickleby, Mona Lisa Smile, Hear the Silence, Truly Madly Deeply and Bend It Like Beckham.
At the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Martin Crimp’s new play Fewer Emergencies kicks off the season, running from 12 September to 1 October 2005 (previews from 8 September). The drama, directed by Royal Court associate director James Macdonald, features four voices, three stories, two songs and a rodent named Bobby. The cast includes Rachel Blake, Neil Dudgeon, Paul Hickey and Tanya Moodie. Crimp’s previous plays at the Royal Court include Face to the Wall, The Country, The Chairs and Getting Attention.
The darker side of football is explored in award-winning playwright Gregory Burke’s On Tour, following the exploits of a Mancunian and a Scouser abroad as they get involved with flogging football merchandise with a sideline in drugs to the fans and hooligans. The play is directed by Matthew Wilde, with a cast that includes Andrew Schofield. Burke was awarded Most Promising Playwright in 2002, Best New Play at the TMA Barclay Awards and shared the Meyer-Witworth Award for Gagarin Way, which he followed up with 2003’s The Straits. A co-production with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, On Tour runs at the Royal Court from 11 to 22 October 2005 (previews from 7 October).
After 30 years apart, two old lovers reunite in a cottage by the sea in Gregory Motton’s new play, The World’s Biggest Diamond, directed by Simon Usher and running from 2 to 26 November 2005 (previews from 26 October). The 2005 Upstairs schedule culminates, from 9 to 22 December 2005 (previews from 7 December), with an emotionally-charged Christmas dinner in 1970s Manchester care of Linda Brogan’s new play What’s in the Cat. Brogan won the Alfred Fagon Award in 2001, an accolade that recognises writers of Caribbean descent. Her other plays include Black Crows and Ghost Town. The new play is directed by Paulette Randall, former artistic director of Talawa Theatre company, and produced by Manchester’s Contact Theatre.
- by Caroline Ansdell