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

My City

First Published 16 September 2011, Last Updated 16 September 2011

I realised last night, watching My City, that while my memory has always been on the annoyingly foggy side, there is one aspect of my life I do remember very well: my former schoolteachers.

Everyone has a teacher who inspired them. I think there were several for me, but my A Level English teacher Mrs Munro stands out. If it weren’t for her, perhaps I wouldn’t be writing for a living now.

In Stephen Poliakoff’s My City, it is primary school headmistress Miss Lambert who inspired pupils Richard and Julie. Now fully grown, and negotiating the pitfalls and frustrations of adult life, they are both aware that their lives would have been infinitely poorer without their former teacher. So when Richard comes across her lying on a park bench by St Paul’s one evening, he is immediately intrigued.

Intriguing is a word that sums up this new play by Poliakoff, his first in 12 years. From this initial premise unfolds a highly evocative piece that is part comedy, part thriller, part modern fable. Complex and highly engrossing, it delves into the souls of the characters and asks, what becomes of us all? What’s the point of our achievements? Do we really ever have an impact on anyone else?

Miss Lambert is a wonderful creation, beautifully played by Tracey Ullman. Enigmatic, playful, slightly eccentric yet always outwardly self-assured, it’s no wonder her habit of wandering the streets – and empty tube lines – of London at night fascinates and frustrates her former pupil Richard. She is joined in her stubborn eccentricity by ex-colleagues Mr Minken (David Troughton) and Miss Summers (Sorcha Cusack), who become prop and character support to Miss Lambert as she tells of her wanderings, ghostly, creepy tales which evoke a side to London not many of us see. In this, the play is as much a homage to the city as a portrait of the lost souls who inhabit it, and Poliakoff paints his picture expertly.

We also get to glimpse the tales that once inspired Richard and Julie, as the teaching trio take us back to school, where Miss Lambert would regale her students with lyrical stories. This device of punctuating the present with the past creates a nostalgic, wistful atmosphere that is carried through the play.

As the two younger adults, Tom Riley and Sian Brooke ably express the bewilderment and fascination their characters have with their vodka-swilling former teachers. The change in relationship between young adult and retiree is interestingly written: where once the older trio were people to look up to, a solid, supportive, inspiring presence, now Richard and Julie come to realise their former teachers aren’t the emotionally stable, confident people they thought them to be.

It’s true, what the younger pair express often in the play, that as children we always thought our teachers were ancient, a world apart in age and therefore, somehow, ‘sorted’ in life. But as adults we know they were, and probably still are, as mixed up and confused by life as the rest of us.



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.