London's edgy new writing powerhouse
London's premiere new writing theatre, the Royal Court made its name in the 1950s when it was synonymous with kitchen sink dramas and the Angry Young Men, and has scarcely looked back (in anger) since.
The commercially successful reign of Dominic Cooke was famously marked by his stated mission to acknowledge the nature of the Sloane Square theatre's audience and 'explore what it means to be middle class'. The quote probably came back to haunt him, coming to define a reign that was marked by lots of new writing from BAME playwrights, plus such towering West End transfer successes as 'Enron' and the peerless 'Jerusalem'.
Current Royal Court artistic director Vicky Featherstone has taken the theatre down a much more experimental route that frequently thrills but has perhaps endeared her more to artists than audiences. The Almeida and Young Vic having probably overtaken it in terms of influence, though certainly there's a willingness to try something that might not work that seemed to have disappeared somewhat in the Cooke era.
There are two venues, the tiny Upstairs and large Downstairs, plus a welcoming bar kitchen that's a fabulous place to visit for a gander at the cream of London's playwrights and creatives, who inexorably drift through throughout the day.
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Zero hours contracts – check. Government sanctions – check. Living with disability – check. Heartless, amoral, technocratic corporation that bears more than a little resemblance to a popular internet retailer – check. Young writer Katherine Soper’s...Drama Until Saturday February 11 2017
'Escaped Alone' returns for 2017 prior to a UK tour and New York transfer. This review is from January 2016 Four oldish women sit serenely in a garden, drinking tea and chatting. Lots of idle chit-chat, lots of gossip about friends and family, lots about...Drama Wednesday January 25 2017 - Saturday February 11 2017
a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun)
After writing and directing 2015's 'hang', capital letter-phobic playwright debbie tucker green is returning to the Royal Court with her new work 'a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun)'. Details are scarce, beyond the fact...Experimental Tuesday February 28 2017 - Saturday April 1 2017
The Kid Stays in the Picture
The Royal Court's tack to the left under Vicky Featherstone had borne some serious fruit in the shape of this collaboration with the towering genius Simon McBurney, fresh from blowing our minds with his theatre company Complicite's reality-shredding 'The...Experimental Tuesday March 7 2017 - Saturday April 8 2017
An intriguing piece of programming at the Court's tiny Upstairs theatre: a text by Simon Stephens – who'd normally be programmed in the main house – that marks the directorial debut from regular Court movement director Imogen Knight. We know very little...Experimental Wednesday April 19 2017 - Saturday May 6 2017
For a lot of people, 'The Ferryman' will effectively serve as Jez Butterworth's follow-up to his era-defining 'Jerusalem', mostly because its actual follow-up, 'The River', was almost impossible to get seats to (staged in the Royal Court's tiny upstairs...Drama Monday April 24 2017 - Saturday May 20 2017
This review is from 'Manwatching's run at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Caitlin Moran may have set the gold standard for discussion of female wanking, but the anonymous author of this Royal Court production – playing late and early slots at Paines Plough’s...Comedy Wednesday May 10 2017 - Saturday May 20 2017
Welsh playwright Gary Owen is a master of moral compromise, as witnessed by his brilliantly troubling last Royal Court play 'Violence & Son'. The follow-up sounds fascinating. It concerns the titular gaming experience, in which participants are invited...Drama Thursday May 25 2017 - Saturday June 24 2017
Anatomy of a Suicide
Playwright Alice Birch and director Katie Mitchell collaborated on the memorable German play 'Ophelias Zimmer', which had a very brief run at the Royal Court in 2016. We don't know a lot about new work 'Anatomy of a Suicide', which follows three generations...Experimental Saturday June 3 2017 - Saturday July 8 2017
It's very rare for new writing powerhouse the Royal Court to revive a classic play. So this looks pretty pointed: a new production of Jim Cartwright's 'Road', his seminal, humorous depiction of a Lancashire town in the poverty-stricken '80s, which began...Drama Friday July 21 2017 - Saturday September 9 2017
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A good tip - become a member and you get access to £10 tickets on Mondays. The programme here is generally very strong and it's worth taking a risk and booking ahead. And the bar is a great place to hang out before and after productions.
I went to the Royal Court when I first arrived in London decades ago - it knocked me out then and still does now - a proper theatre offering properly stuff - takes some risks but always delivers a satisfying night - great for local drinks and eating pre and post and right next to the tube.