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Bartlett, Mangan and Spall in Royal Court new season

Published 9 November 2011

Mike Bartlett’s latest play Love, Love, Love, which recently won Best Play at the Theatre Awards UK, is to be produced in London by the Royal Court next year.

The play is part of the Sloane Square venue’s spring/summer 2012 season, which also includes new work by Joe Penhall, Nick Payne, Bola Agbaje and Vivienne Franzmann, and stage appearances by Stephen Mangan, Linda Bassett and Rafe Spall.

In the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, David Eldridge’s already announced In Basildon kicks off 2012 on 16 February. Directed by Royal Court Artistic Director Dominic Cooke, it will star Bassett, who last appeared at the Royal Court in this year’s Wastwater, and Debbie Chazen, who was seen in The Girlfriend Experience both at the Court and the Young Vic.

Bartlett’s Love, Love, Love (27 April to 2 June), was originally produced by Paines Plough for a UK tour in October 2010. The theatre company and Artistic Director James Grieve now team up with the Royal Court to create a new production of this play about the baby boomer generation, now at retirement age, whose love stories began in 1967.

A Royal Court regular, Bartlett’s work for the venue includes Contractions, My Child and 2010’s Olivier Award-winning Cock. Since then, Bartlett’s plays Earthquakes In London and 13 have both been produced by the National Theatre.

The Downstairs season concludes with Birthday (22 June to 4 August), the new play by Penhall, whose latest work, Haunted Child, opens at the Royal Court next month. A drama about the bumpy ride of pregnancy and birth, Birthday stars Mangan (Green Wing, Episodes on TV, The Norman Conquests at the Old Vic) as Ed, whose partner Lisa is pregnant. Determined to do things differently this time, they have a whole new birth plan.

Birthday is directed by Roger Michell, who has previously collaborated with Penhall on his plays Landscape With Weapon and Blue/Orange at the National Theatre, the latter of which transferred to the West End and won an Olivier Award. Michell recently directed Tribes for the Royal Court.

Meanwhile, the season in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs brings back two playwrights whose careers have been supported by the Royal Court – Payne and Agbaje – presents the debut plays of Luke Norris and Hayley Squires, and produces the second work by Mogadishu playwright Franzmann.

Firstly, Constellations (13 January to 11 February) marks the return to the Royal Court of Wanderlust playwright Payne. Described as a play about free will and friendship, it stars Rafe Spall (The Shadow Line, One Day), who previously appeared in Payne’s If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet at the Bush theatre.

Norris’s play about the enduring nature of love, Goodbye To All That (23 February to 17 March), and Squires’s examination of violence and neglect, Vera Vera Vera (22 March to 14 April), are produced as part of the Royal Court’s Young Writers’ Festival 2012, the venue’s long-running programme which helps develop the work of budding playwrights aged 25 and under.

Both playwrights are also actors, with Norris having appeared at the Royal Court in Remembrance Day earlier this year.

This year’s Young Writers’ Festival, which features staged readings, workshops, shorts and special events, was opened up to writers as young as eight, with Royal Court playwrights including Payne and EV Crowe working with 75 young people on a six-week writing programme.

One successful product of the Festival is Agbaje, whose debut play Gone Too Far premiered at the Royal Court in 2007 and won an Olivier Award. She now returns with Belong (26 April to 26 May), a collaboration with leading British African theatre company Tiata Fahodzi, which centres on a British MP who escapes political heat in London by fleeing to Nigeria, where he gets caught up in a whole new power game.

Belong is directed by Royal Court regular Indhu Rubasingham, whose work at the venue includes Disconnect, Sugar Mummies and Free Outgoing.

The Upstairs season concludes with Franzmann’s second play The Witness (1 to 30 June), a dark thriller about a girl who was adopted by a photographer from her native Rwanda. Years later in a dark room of a Hampstead house, a long hidden secret is exposed.

Drama teacher Franzmann’s debut play, Mogadishu, premiered in Manchester and transferred to the Lyric Hammersmith earlier this year, winning her the 2010 George Devine Award.

Also included in the new season – though exact details are yet to be announced – is a new project on the environment directed by National Theatre Associate Katie Mitchell, whose previous work at the Royal Court includes The City and Wastwater.

The new season kicks off following autumn shows Haunted Child (Downstairs) and The Westbridge (Upstairs).

CB

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