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Family dramas for Hampstead Downstairs

Published August 27, 2014

The crises of family life are at the heart of the trio of plays presented in the Hampstead Theatre’s Downstairs space this autumn/winter.

James Fritz’s Four Minutes Twelve Seconds, which opens the season from 2 October, is the tale of 17-year-old James whose life is one big open opportunity. His parents have devoted their life to ensuring just that. But an incident at the school gates captured on a smartphone threatens everything they have striven for.

Fritz’s topical drama, runner up for the 2013 Verity Bargate Award, is followed by State Red, another tale of a troubled son. Challenging the idea of ‘family comes first’ and exploring the trouble of multicultural society, Atiha Sen Gupta’s drama plays from 7 November and tells of Richard, who is aiming to become promoted to Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and his wife Joyce. When they return from a function at the House Of Lord to find their estranged son asleep on the sofa after a year with no contact, the not-so-prodigal son brings with him demons that could wreck Richard’s ambitions.

Running from 11 December to 17 January, the Christmas-set Elephants follows the Llewellyn family as they prepare for a jolly time. But the cracks from last year’s disastrous Christmas are starting to show and they have an evening of revelations ahead of them.

Elephants is the debut play by writer and actress Rose Heiney, whose TV credits include Miranda, Fresh Meat and Big Bad World.

While the trio of new plays run in Hampstead’s Downstairs Theatre, the Main House hosts Theresa Rebeck’s comedy Seminar. The tale of aspiring writers stars Roger Allam as the cantankerous mentor that four would-be wordsmiths vie to impress.