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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‘The Prudes’ review
The word from early previews of Anthony Neilson’s (non) sex comedy ‘The Prudes’ was of a show that had stepped over the line in its desire to provoke. But Neilson and his casts use an elaborate devising process to craft his plays, and despite there still...Drama Until Saturday June 2 2018
Notes from the Field
Anna Deavere Smith makes her first stage appearance in 25 years in her hotly anticipated new show, 'Notes from the Field'. These days, she's best known for starring in telly series 'The West Wing', but she made her name with 'Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992',...Drama Wednesday June 13 2018 - Saturday June 23 2018
One For Sorrow
After 'Lela & Co', a scathing, original satire on the violence of war, Cordelia Lynn is back at the Royal Court with a new play. 'One for Sorrow' is set during an attack on London. A young woman offers refuge to one the victims, and sets her whole family...Drama Wednesday June 20 2018 - Saturday August 11 2018
Okay, his 'St George and the Dragon' at the National Theatre recieved, ahem, 'mixed' reviews. But it's still exciting to see a new play from dauntless experimentalist Rory Mullarkey, who's back at the Royal Court after his surreal 2014 comedy 'The Wolf...Drama Thursday July 12 2018 - Saturday August 11 2018
Robert Alan Evans' new play for Royal Court Upstairs has a mysterious set-up: a cabin in the woods, a lone woman and her wolf. It's his follow-up to his 2004 play 'A Girl in a Car with a Man', which explored the aftermath of a child abduction. Lucy Morrison...Drama Thursday September 13 2018 - Saturday October 13 2018
Part of Represent, a season of work inspired by the centenary of women over 30 being granted the vote, this show is inspired by London's grime scene. Debris Stevenson is a young poet and musician who'll explore what it's like to fight for the life you...Musicals Friday September 21 2018 - Saturday October 6 2018
ear for eye
Excellent, upper case-fearing playwright and director debbie tucker green is back at the Royal Court after a string of sparse, intense plays including 'hang' and 'a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun)'. Her new play explores...Drama Thursday October 25 2018 - Saturday November 24 2018
Still No Idea
Lisa Hammond and Rachael Spence's 2010 show 'No Idea' was a witty, personal exploration of stereotypes and how society sees disabled people. Now, they're revisiting the subject, nearly a decade on, to ask how much has changed. Mixing verbatim theatre,...Comedy Wednesday October 31 2018 - Saturday November 17 2018
After 'Two Man Show', their furious, visual, iconoclastic exploration of gender, RashDash are the toast of the town. Now they're making their Royal Court debut by directing 'Hole', actor Ellie Kendrick's first play. Kendrick is best known for playing...Experimental Wednesday November 28 2018 - Saturday January 12 2019
Mark Ravenhill's pioneering 1996 debut play 'Shopping and Fucking' was at the shocking forefront of '90s in-yer-face theatre: his more recent Royal Court work includes the equally brutal 2008 war story collection 'Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat' and his 2009...Drama Thursday December 6 2018 - Saturday January 26 2019
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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.