UPDATE (May 11) The cast has just been announced for ‘That Is Not Who I Am’: it’s Priyanga Burford, Jake Davies and Siena Kelly. We’ve received no more information on the enigmatic Davidson, but the cast has issued some quotes on the mysterious play.
Davies: ‘This play has made me see the world in an entirely new way. Lots of it is fascinating, some of it is terrifying, but all of it is urgent.’
Kelly: ‘Reading this play has changed my life and I mean that quite literally.’
Burford: ‘It is a breath of fresh air to read a play that is so playful with both form and spelling.’
If that’s not enough, we’ve been issued with the cast’s rather eccentric required reading, which may or may not shed some light on the final play – we’ll find out next month. Maybe.
‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’ by Shoshana Zuboff
‘Charles Dowding’s No Dig Gardening’ by Charles Dowding
‘Less Is More’ by Jason Hickel
‘Meghan Markle: An Adult Colouring Book’ by Skyler Rankin
‘Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now’ by Jaron Lanier
An article on British security co-operation
Tony Blair’s all-in-one chocolate sponge recipe
More as we get it…
When the Royal Court Theatre reached out with the offer of an exclusive show announcement, we jumped at the chance, sight unseen. After all, the main house programming of London’s foremost new-writing theatre – which has given us the likes of John Osborne, Caryl Churchill and Jez Butterworth – is always worth paying attention to.
Then it all got a bit weird: we were sworn to secrecy and told that the next main house play at the Royal Court would be ‘That Is Not Who I Am’, by one Dave Davidson, a man we’ve literally never heard of, whose entire biog is ‘he has worked in the security industry for 38 years’, and who is ‘highly security conscious’, meaning he won’t allow anybody to photograph him (how accurate the blurry supplied image is we don’t know). His play seems to lean into those themes: it’s a thriller about somebody called Ollie whose life spirals drastically out of control after his identity is stolen on the internet.
You’d almost think there was something suspicious about an unknown playwright who there are no proper pictures of being given a remarkably high-profile slot for a play about identity called ‘That Is Not Who I Am’. But apparently he’s 100 percent legit as the Royal Court has provided testimonies for him from big-name playwrights Simon Stephens (‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’) and Dennis Kelly (‘Matilda’).
Says Stephens: ‘Dave Davidson had been working steadily on the fringes of the London new-writing scene when I first met him in a writers’ group. His work always showed striking potential. But the force and brilliance of “That Is Not Who I Am” has completely astonished me. It is a play of rare political urgency, savage wit and real compassion and wisdom. It is a play that defines this country as it blinks its way out of the pandemic and into a chilling new world. It is, I think, a startlingly significant piece of work. I am so glad Dave came back to writing.’
Comments Kelly: ‘“Dave Davidson is quite simply the best playwright that this country has never produced. The fact that this is his first major production is a shocking indictment of the system. His voice genuinely has the capacity to change everything.’
And that’s it: we don’t know any more, and in true Royal Court-style there’s no casting announced yet (because they don’t want actors to upstage writers), and basically no creative team either, though we do know that theatre associate Lucy Morrison is lined up to direct. All that we can say is a very paranoid guy called Dave Davidson is about to have his first play staged at the Royal Court, and we sincerely hope its faith in him is rewarded.
‘That Is Not Who I Am’ is at the Royal Court Theatre, Jun 10-Jul 16. Public booking opens at 10am on Fri Apr 22.