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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Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)
Suzan-Lori Parks’s ‘Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)’ is a welcome return to the sort of sprawling black American epic we don’t see so much in the Royal Court’s Downstairs theatre now that current boss Vicky Featherstone has gone all avant-garde...Drama Until Saturday October 22 2016Read more
Sometimes you’ll visit an elderly relative, and they’ll reveal a horde of long-hidden opinions: which child was their favourite, which one had the nicest eyes, which one they left on the bus once and had to go back for. It’s too late to tiptoe. Nathaniel...Drama Until Saturday October 15 2016Read more
Playwright Al Smith made a splash this summer with his Edinburgh-set update of Gogol's 'Diary of a Madman'. Now we get to see one he made earlier, with the London premiere of his debut play 'Harrogate', a disorientating Pinter-esque power play in which...Drama Thursday October 20 2016 - Saturday October 29 2016Read more
Inside The Score With Lewis Gaston: I Capuleti: Bellini's Dissonant Bel Canto Style
The rising young conductor discusses the orchestration and vocal parts of the score of one of Bellini's best works to see how his approach to composing opera was radically different from his contemporaries.Classical and opera Tuesday November 1 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, her first since her all-conquering 'Chimerica'. Directed by James MacDonald, the play follows two nuclear scientists who have retired into glorious isolation to their cottage by the...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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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.