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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There’s something off-puttingly literal in calling a play about female genital mutilation ‘Cuttin’ It’. But this uneasy wit is typical of Charlene James’s sharp, sickly two-hander. A pair of schoolgirls speak in overlapping monologues that read like pages...Drama Until Saturday July 30 2016Read more
The brilliant surrealist theatre-maker Anthony Neilson returns to the Royal Court with a new play about a director on an obsessive quest to find the perfect light. More than that, we don't know, as the show will be devised in the rehearsal room with a...Experimental Friday July 1 2016 - Saturday August 6 2016Read more
The first Open Court, in 2013, announced new Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone's arrival in style. 140 writers took over the building in a bustling, bewildering six week celebration of new writing. This time round, Open Court won't be quite as huge....Drama Monday July 18 2016 - Saturday August 6 2016Read more
Pigs and Dogs
The great Caryl Churchill has been remarkably prolific in the last couple of years, albeit with the slight qualification that it's been almost two decades since she wrote a single-story play longer than an hour. 'Pigs and Dogs' is a mere ten minutes in...Experimental Wednesday July 20 2016 - Saturday July 30 2016Read more
A divided family's youngest daughter convenes a meeting do pick over what has gone so wrong in the second play from actor Nathaniel Martello-White, whose debut 'Blackta' played at the Young Vic a few years back.Drama Wednesday September 7 2016 - Saturday October 15 2016Read more
Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)
A critically acclaimed smash off-Broadway, Suzan-Lori Parks's play is set in 1862 and loosely follows the structure of Homer's 'Odyssey', here following Hero, a black American slave, who is promised his freedom if he fights for the Confederacy against...Drama Thursday September 15 2016 - Saturday October 22 2016Read more
The Sewing Group
In pre-industrial England, a woman arrives at a rural village saying she wishes to learn from the villagers' way of life. But suspicions arise that she is not who she claims to be in this new drama from EV Crowe.Drama Thursday November 10 2016 - Thursday December 22 2016Read more
The Royal Court rounds off its 2016 with a new play from Lucy Kirkwood, who is clearly having 'a bit of a moment' this autumn – 'The Children' will overlap with 'Oil', her epic new play for the Almeida. Directed by James MacDonald, the play follows two...Drama Thursday November 17 2016 - Saturday January 14 2017Read more
A co-production with Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre, Katherine Soper's political drama 'Wish List' follows Tamsin, a woman on a zero hours contract and her housebound OCD brother, Dean. When he is declared fit to work and his benefits are cut, Tamsin...Drama Tuesday January 10 2017 - Saturday February 11 2017Read more
'Escaped ALone' returns for 2017 prior to a UK tour and New York transfer. Casting is TBA. 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...Drama Saturday January 14 2017 - Saturday February 11 2017Read more
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4.8 / 5
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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.