Bush loses dignity this summer

Published January 15, 2009

The Bush theatre is looking for people to go public with their tales of everyday embarrassments and humiliations to inspire a new production to be staged at the West London venue in the summer.

Suddenlossofdignity.com is the finale of a spring/summer season that includes new plays by Neil LaBute and Alexi Kaye Campbell and two plays addressing climate change.

You can insure your car, luggage or pets against loss, so why not insure your dignity? So proposes the Bush theatre with its website suddenlossofdignity.com, which invites people to submit their stories of daily humiliation – for example, leaving the loo with your skirt tucked into your pants, drunkenly dancing at a wedding or texting an ex after one too many – in order to make their insurance claim. In return, the Bush will send back similar tales submitted by other people to cheer you up, in what is billed as a form of ‘recycling for the cold, lonely and desperate of the 21st century’.

The result will be a production created by five of London’s talented new playwrights – Zawe Ashton, James Graham, Joel Horwood, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and Michelle Terry – inspired by these undignified tales. Suddenlossofdignity.com plays at the Bush from 29 July to 15 August, before a stay at the Latitude Festival.

Before that, the season opens with Wrecks, a new play by Neil LaBute, which runs from 10 February to 28 March. A monologue, it stars Robert Glenister as Edward Carr, an ordinary man, doting father of four and a successful businessman, whose world has been shattered by the death of his beloved wife JoJo. Through his grief, he picks through the past piecing together the story of his life, like the wrecks of the cars he so lovingly restores.

The work of American playwright LaBute has frequently been seen on the London stage, the most recent being Fat Pig which played at Trafalgar Studios and the Comedy theatre, and In A Dark Dark House at the Almeida theatre. His other plays include The War On Terror and Helter Skelter/Land Of The Dead, which both ran at the Bush, plus The Shape Of Things, The Mercy Seat, This Is How It Goes and Some Girl(s).

Glenister is well known for his appearances in television shows Spooks and Hustle, and has worked frequently on stage at the Royal Court, Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre, where he was seen last year in Never So Good.   

The season continues with a double-bill of plays by Steve Waters about climate change, collectively titled The Contingency Plan (22 April to 6 June).  The two plays – Resilience and On The Beach – can be seen together or as stand-alone pieces, and present an epic portrait of an England of the near future, in which huge floods have destroyed Bristol and threaten to sink the east coast. Linked by the character of Will Paxton, a maverick glaciologist, the two plays consider the disaster from different perspectives: Resilience is a Whitehall satire which looks at a government’s response to imminent catastrophe, while On the Beach tells the story of Paxton’s parents’ reaction to the news.

The appropriately-named playwright Waters is the author of the plays Fast Labour, Plague Of People, English Journeys, After The Gods and World Music.

Apologia, the second play from Alexi Kaye Campbell, whose The Pride ran at the Royal Court in November last year, continues the season from 17 June to 18 July. Apologia centres on Kristin Weybridge, an eminent art critic. Her successful memoir charts her pursuit of politics and art during her years as a young mother, but fails to mention her sons. When son Simon visits his mother on her birthday, he decides to deliver his version of the past, making everyone confront the cost of Kristin’s commitment to her work.

Also this season, the Bush co-produces Stovepipe, an indoor promenade performance by former journalist Adam Brace. Seen last year at the HighTide Festival, it is re-staged at the West 12 Centre in Shepherd’s Bush from 3 March to 26 April in a collaboration with the National Theatre. Based on Brace’s own experiences, Stovepipe charts serviceman Alan’s hunt for his friend and fellow soldier Eddy, who has gone AWOL in Jordan.