facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
# I MISS THEATRE
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen.

My Child

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 21 April 2008

I had never watched theatre in a tube train until last night. I don't doubt you can, if you know where to look, but yesterday was a first for me. Miriam Buether's design for Mike Bartlett's My Child has turned the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs into an enlarged underground train, complete with seats for some and squashed standing room for others, advertising screaming slogans at you and intimate relationships being played out before you, whether you want to see them or not. I [Matthew Amer] got aboard for a bumpy ride.

Bartlett is another of the Royal Court's Young Writers Programme success stories to come through with his first professionally produced stage production as part of Dominic Cooke's inaugural season. My Child is a brief but effective debut.

The plot revolves around an unnamed man, played by Ben Miles, who is gradually being phased out of his son's life, seemingly because his ex-wife no longer wants to have to see him. As the play goes on he becomes more desperate before feeling forced to take action.

The setting and performance give us no real sense of time and space; lines, conversations and scenes blend and overlap in Sacha Wares's production. This doesn't matter, as it is the relationships that are the key to this play: Ben Miles's Man talks to his dead parents, asking why they brought him up to be nice and polite, allowing people to walk over him; Lia Williams's Woman – the mother of Man's son, referred to as Child –
has to parent both her child and her incontinent mother; the effect of Woman and new husband Karl's parenting can clearly be seen in Child, who is violent, spoilt and values possessions highly.

It is Child who gets all the best lines in the play, being given licence to be brutally honest and unrestrained. Phrases like "I don't like books, they're gay" slip easily from the mouth of young actor Adam Arnold who is a delight as the boy caught in the middle.

Bartlett manages to present the clash of parents, who both want the best for their son, without clearly setting his argument for either side or being overtly judgmental, though Miles's mild mannered, downtrodden Man is, at times, so weak that he draws sympathy. Wares's production also includes one of the most realistic fights between two men seen in recent times, and when Man goes mad, the scenery takes a beating that reverberates around the confined space.

The actors, when not involved with the scene, slip into the background of audience/travellers, which heightens the feeling that the sad events playing out in front of the audience could be happening to any member of the public; we wouldn't know them, but we still find their story gripping.

My Child plays at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs until 2 June.

MA

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.