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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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 Until Saturday October 7 2017
Though the title could only have been more zeitgeisty if it had been called ‘Snap Election’, this short (45min!), experimental new play from Simon Stephens has absolutely nothing to do with current global sabre-rattling, or, indeed, nuclear war in any...Drama Until Saturday May 6 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
Vivienne Franzmann doesn't shy away from tricky subjects - her previous plays have tackled heroin addiction (Pests) and child abuse in schools (Mogadishu). Her new drama 'bodies' dives into the international baby trade, where kids are sold for thousands...Drama Wednesday July 5 2017 - Saturday August 12 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
In the dead of night two women are planting bombs - not to kill anyone, just to make their voices heard. Guillermo Calderon's drama 'B', translated by William Gregory, is a Royal Court international commission that explores politics and violence in contemporary...Drama Thursday September 28 2017 - Saturday October 21 2017
Chris Thorpe has cemented his status as one of the most exciting experimental theatremakers out there with works like his Fringe First-winning look at political bias, 'Confirmation'. His new play 'Victory Condition' is a similarly ambitious exploration...Drama Thursday October 5 2017 - Saturday October 21 2017
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4.7 / 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.