The Royal Court and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse present
On Tour ( Archived )
The Royal Court and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse present
By Gregory Burke
7 October - 22 October 2005
Jerwood Theatre Upstairs
Online booking is currently being handled by SEE Tickets (booking charges will apply) while the Royal Court installs a new online booking facility. If online tickets are unavailable please call 020 7565 5100 between 10am and 6pm.
Tickets, merchandise, money, drugs. All are just a phone call away. H is a Manc, Ray is a Scouser. They service the needs and exploit the chaos of football fans abroad following England to make money, trade, or steal. When H meets Daz, an ex-Marine, in a police cell, he sees an opportunity to turn his dealings with Ray into something bigger.
Director: Matt Wilde
Design: Lisa Lillywhite
Lighting: Paul Anderson
Sound: Neil Alexander
Composer: Jason Farrall
Cast: Paul Anderson, Jeff Hordley, Andrew Schofield
Award-winning playwright GREGORY BURKE’s previous work includes GAGARIN WAY (Traverse/RNT Studio) and THE STRAITS (Paines Plough).
Gregory Burke was awarded the ‘Most Promising Playwright’ award in February 2002, Best New Play at the TMA Barclays Awards and shared the Meyer-Whitworth Award for GAGARIN WAY (Traverse / RNT Studio / Arts). Other work includes THE STRAITS (Paines Plough), THE PARTY (part of “Citizone”, the Glasgow Live Millennium Soap Opera) and OCCY EYES (BBC Radio 3).
‘Gregory Burke’s blistering, brilliant, crazily confident first play’ [GAGARIN WAY] The Guardian
Matt Wilde is an Associate Director at the National Theatre Studio and has worked
extensively as a staff and associate director for the National Theatre and Out of Joint. As a director his work includes SLOW TIME (NT Education Tour), HIS DARK MATERIALS Revival (NT Olivier) PORTUGAL (NT Cottesloe), CRIMINALS (NT
Studio), THE INSATIATE COUNTESS (Young Vic Studio), STARS IN THE MORNING SKY (RADA), ROMEO AND JULIET and MACBETH (Southwark Playhouse).
Supported by JERWOOD NEW PLAYWRIGHTS
THE GUARDIAN3 stars We know, from the Gagarin Way and The Straits, that Gregory Burke can write snazzy dialogue. We also know that he’s a dab hand at mixing fights of erudition with displays of testosterone. But his third play, co-ordinated by the Court and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, confirms Burke’s gifts without imaginatively extending them.
The action starts in a Scandinavian slammer where two guys are penned up during an English soccer match. The cryptically named H is a glib Mancunian spiv. His cockney cellmate, Daz is a former ex-Marine commando. Having chummed up with the dreamy Daz, H offers to cut him a dodgy deal of supplying false passports to an old Scouse colleague, Ray. But, when the three men finally met up in a blandly luxurious hotel room, we get a triangular power play in which it takes time to deduce who is calling the shots.
In form, the play owes visible debt to Mamet’s American Buffalo. In the theme, it derives from Darwin’s Origin of The Species. Burke’s main point is that in the naturally selective world of petty crime, it’s only the biggest sharks that will survive. Even technology is undercutting the livelihood of the small-scale villain: as Ray, a ticket tout ruined by the internet, complains: “You take away a man’s fuckin right to manipulate the price and what’s he got left?”
You are left admiring the racy chat and some cool performances from Jeff Hordley as the auto-didact Mancunian, Andrew Schofield as the wiry Scouser and Paul Anderson as the deceptive Daz. Matt Wilde’s production also orchestrates the action with jazzy effectiveness and Lisa Lillywhite’s design has the right Scandinavian sparseness.
Michael Billington, THE GUARDIAN, 12 October 2005
THE TIMES3 stars H, Daz and Ray are Englishmen abroad and they make pretty shabby ambassadors for their country. Scouser Ray and Mancunian H follow the England football team to overseas matches, exploiting the crime and chaos that break out wherever the over-excited fans go.
When H encounters young Daz, a cockney ex-Marine, in custody at a Scandinavian police station, they strike up an uneasy friendship. Is H’s bragging and camaraderie what it seems or does he plan to make Daz a pawn in a more dangerous game?
Gregory Burke’s new play, in a co-production presented by the Royal Court and the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse directed by Matt Wilde, has the tense grittiness of a television thriller, but also has more serious aspirations. In its opening scene, Daz admires H’s stash of counterfeit money and H points out images of Darwin and Elgar’s figures, as he puts it, vitally important to the national sense of self, on the banknotes. H invokes Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest in support of his own viciously mercantile worldview.
For those young men, it’s cash that counts, not culture. Yet they cannot escape their identity. H and Ray are defined not just by their Englishness, but by the cities of their birth. And in the play’s best line H, along with Daz’s meat-headed avowal of a passion for a punch-up, sums up the way in which an image of English has changed from one of courage to criminality: “There is a corner of a foreign jail that is forever England.”
Burke does not entirely succeed in integrating these ideas into the drama. The debates often feel contrived, and he sometimes sacrifices action to speechifying. But if the writing sometimes feels slack, at its tautest it’s edge-of-your-seat stuff.
Lisa Lillywhite’s set transforms effortlessly from holding cell to the smart hotel room where the final showdown between the three men takes place complete with a gasp-inducing twist that recalls Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter. Wilde’s production is compellingly acted by Paul Anderson, Jeff Hordley as H and Andrew Schofield as Ray, and towards its climax it is gripping – a riveting, nasty glimpse of England’s underbelly.
Sam Marlowe, THE TIMES, 13 October 2005
JERWOOD THEATRE UPSTAIRS
7 22 October
Tickets 7. 50 15
Monday Saturday 7.45pm
7, 8, 10 October 7.45pm
11 October 7pm
Sign-Interpreted Performance(s) 19 October 7.45pm email email@example.com
15, 22 October 4pm
There is no midweek matinee
1 hour 40 minutes with no interval