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Royal Court’s Birthday extended

Published 10 July 2012

Stephen Mangan will find himself in his now infamously unusual labour for longer, as the Royal Court Theatre’s uniquely surreal hit Birthday extends its run until 11 August.

Joe Penhall’s latest play opened at the Sloane Square venue last month and has played to full houses ever since. Starring Lisa Dillon and Mangan as Lisa and Ed, the drama tells the story of a couple who are having their second child and, following Lisa’s first difficult labour, have decided Ed will this time be the one to experience all the joys and challenges bringing the gift of life into the world entails.

Directed by Roger Michell, Birthday opened to the press on 28 June with The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish proclaiming Pehall to be “onto an absolute winner here, taking an inspired idea and using its inversion of normal biological procedure to breed a fertile mix of existential questions and corporeal, sometimes gross-out humour”.

While the subject matter is based around an unrealistic proposition, which requires Mangan to strap on a two stone body suit every night, Penhall’s play was praised for still managing to strike a poignant chord, as the critic explained, saying: “For all the hospital soaps on TV, there’s nothing out there that cuts with anything like this double-edged finesse to the heart of how we manage the whole birth business in this country and to the core of vexed issues about who does what in modern relationships.”

Birthday had been booking until 4 August. The eccentric drama will be followed in the theatre’s Jerwood Downstairs space by Caryl Churchill’s new play Love And Information from 6 September, which features more than 100 characters trying to make sense of what they know.


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