The Royal Court Theatre presents
By Nick Payne
9 September - 9 October 2010
Jerwood Theatre Upstairs
Tickets: £15, Mondays all seats £10.
“Sex isn’t just about how big and how long.
What is it about then?
All sorts of things.”
Joy is a married woman, a GP, and struggling to remain interested in sex. Her husband Alan, however, thinks of little else. And their teenage son Tim is ready to burst.
Nick Payne’s frank, compassionate and open play about sex and intimacy – and whether the two have any relation to each other – marks his Royal Court debut. His first play was If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet at the Bush Theatre and he was the winner of the George Devine Award in 2009.
Director Simon Godwin’s recent credits include Far Away at Bristol Old Vic, The Winter’s Tale for Headlong and the Nuffield Theatre Southampton, Mister Heracles at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Contains nudity and scenes of a sexual nature
Age guidance 16+
Running time: 1 hr and 35 mins (no interval)
£10 Mondays sponsored by French Wines
Select a Date
Dates in September
|Thu 9 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Fri 10 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 11 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Mon 13 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£10|
|Tue 14 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Wed 15 Sep 2010||7:00pm||Press Night||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 16 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Fri 17 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 18 Sep 2010||4:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 18 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Mon 20 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£10|
|Tue 21 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Wed 22 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 23 Sep 2010||4:00pm||Mid-Week Matinee||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 23 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Fri 24 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 25 Sep 2010||4:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 25 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Mon 27 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£10|
|Tue 28 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Post-Show Talk||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Wed 29 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 30 Sep 2010||4:00pm||Mid-Week Matinee||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 30 Sep 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
Dates in October
|Fri 1 Oct 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 2 Oct 2010||4:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 2 Oct 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Mon 4 Oct 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£10|
|Tue 5 Oct 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Wed 6 Oct 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 7 Oct 2010||4:00pm||Mid-Week Matinee||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Thu 7 Oct 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Fri 8 Oct 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 9 Oct 2010||4:00pm||Audio Described Performance, Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
|Sat 9 Oct 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs||£15|
Sold out Performances
4 stars Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 21 September 2010
Nick Payne won praise and a major award last year for his comic and compassionate play about an overweight teenager, If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet. That promise is confirmed by Wanderlust at the Royal Court, a sharply perceptive and humane drama about love, sex and desire. It focuses on a middle-aged, middle-class couple whose marriage has hit an arid patch and their 15-year-old son, who is conducting, somewhat heartlessly, his first campaign in the sexual battlefield.
You might expect this young writer to be good on teenage passion but he is also scarily perceptive about the problems encountered by the middle-aged. Simon Godwin directs a superbly acted production that is by turns funny, sad and, should you happen to be a bloke on the wrong side of 40, downright squirm-inducing. 4 stars Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard, Monday 20 September 2010
Wanderlust takes a perceptive peak behind the bedroom curtains
In this promising drama of unease and thwarted desire, writer Nick Payne scrutinises — sometimes wince-inducingly closely — the sexual knots we tie ourselves in, from teenager-hood to middle-age.
The fulcrum of Simon Godwin’s energetic production is the ailing marriage of Joy, a GP, and Alan, a teacher. Joy appears to have lost interest in physical intimacy, much to her husband’s nightly frustration.
Richer pickings seem to await Alan in the form of tight-shirted, blonde-haired colleague Clare. Meanwhile, Joy and Alan’s 15-year-old son Tim has asked his friend Michelle to help him hone his sexual moves.
Payne scored a big hit at the Bush last year with If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, which touched percipiently on the unease we feel with our bodies. He develops his thesis here and if some scenes or even sections strike strained notes, cumulatively there’s much to relish.
Strongest of all is the way Payne stresses that, although we might live in a society that now talks freely about sex, communicating our desires to the one we love is as awkward as ever.
The superb scene in which Joy, played with commendable frankness by Pippa Haywood, doggedly tries to act out a fantasy for the squirming Alan (Stuart McQuarrie) illustrates the yawning chasm between the theory of sex manuals and the practices of our bedrooms. 4 stars Sarah Hemming, Financial Times, Wednesday 22 September 2010
In the title of Nick Payne’s new play, the emphasis is very much on the second part of the word. This is a drama not about armchair travel, but about the wayward nature of desire. Sex is centre stage: any play that opens with the sentence, “He told me that semen was good for me”, makes its intentions pretty plain. But it is far from being a grubby affair – this is a frank, funny and compassionate look at a group of people trying to get love and lust into the same bed.
At the centre of events are Joy and Alan, a couple married for some 25 years. He is a tired teacher, she is an even more tired doctor and their love-life has worn threadbare. Alan craves more sex, Joy craves more romance and their frustrations colour their judgment and drive their behaviour. Will Alan sleep with a young colleague? Will Joy sleep with an old flame? Would they feel any better if they did?
Meanwhile, Tim, their 15-year-old son, has his eye on an older woman (a sixth-former) and wants to impress her in bed. So he asks his classmate Michelle to help him “practise” the mechanics. After some demurring (“It’s not tennis, Tim”), Michelle agrees, leading to some eye-watering practical lessons in her bedroom.
Payne brings a lovely combination of acute observation and droll humour to the scenario and creates warm, fallible characters. He demonstrates the same sympathy for ordinary people struggling to get things right as he did in his first play, If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, which likewise focused on a middle-aged couple and a teenage child. But this play is more tightly structured and better paced (even if it is self-consciously written at times: a mistake because it draws attention away from the honesty of the piece).
Payne is a very promising writer and he is well served by Simon Godwin’s fluent staging and a set of believable performances. The two teenagers (James Musgrave and Isabella Laughland) are painfully poised between gawkiness and worldliness. Stuart McQuarrie and Pippa Haywood are touchingly accurate as the careworn middle-aged couple, and there is strong support from Charles Edward and Siân Brooke. Payne might not reach any easy solutions, but he poignantly suggests that even if lust may wander, most people still desperately want it to stay at home. 4 stars Jeremy Kingston, The Times, Wednesday 22 September 2010
A double bed occupies centre stage in this play by Nick Payne, the winner of the George Devine award for Most Promising Playwright last year. Sometimes it is the bed occupied by Joy and Alan Richards, no longer as contentedly married as they expected to be, and at other times their adolescent son Tim is under the duvet with a schoolgirl friend, Michelle, although on these occasions the bed is in Michelle’s house and they are tentatively enjoying what Tim’s parents now seem reluctant to try.
Joy is a GP, Alan heads the English department in a local school. Crudely put, she would welcome more affection from him, he more sex with her, and the play presents their attempts to cope with their differences, setting them tenderly and often comically alongside the younger generation’s first steps along the road that may, alas, end up at a similar crossroads.
When chance brings Stephen, an old flame, into Joy’s life, and Alan begins guiltily enjoying rapid sex in his office with Clare, Payne shifts the focus between these three different encounters, often showing developments in two of them at the same time. Thus, the two adult couples are standing in two different pubs but occupy the same space, one pair even pushing between the others who are absent but present. Where playing the two scenes separately might come across as banal, doing it this way keeps the energy level high.
The dialogue cleverly catches the awkwardness that paralyses the characters almost every time their talk turns to sex. Even their trick of repeating each others phrases may be meant as part of this, though Payne makes too much use of it.
Simon Godwin’s sensitive direction draws top-quality performances from the cast, with an especially subtle mix of certainty and reserve from Pippa Haywood as Joy. But fine work to from Stuart McQuarrie’s embarrassed Alan, Charles Edwards as the hesitant and blurting Stephen, and Siân Brooke’s resolute Clare.
James Musgrave and Isabella Laughland give alert, enchanting performances as the youngsters discovering that sex can actually lead to love, and her quietly happy smile at the end suggests that happiness awaits them. At least until middle age.
3 stars Michael Billington, The Guardian, Saturday 18 September 2010
Nick Payne scored a big hit last year at the Bush with his first play, If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, about teenage angst and dysfunctional families. Now, in this 90-minute piece, he confronts sex head-on and suggests that, ideally, it should never be divorced from passion and feeling. Even if there is nothing original about his theme, Payne treats it in a joyously, uninhibited fashion.
His six characters are all, in different ways, screwed up. Teacher Alan and his GP wife Joy are despondent fortysomethings whose marriage has gone off the boil and who seek consolation elsewhere: he finds it in a brief fling with a colleague, Clare, and his wife in platonic assignations with an old flame, Stephen. Meanwhile the couple’s teenage son, Tim, is nervous about an impending date and gets intense, what-to-do help from his school chum, Michelle, who clearly loves him to bits.
I suspect a touch of wish fulfilment in Payne’s plotting: Michelle’s willingness to act as a sexual guinea pig and Clare’s to provide extra-curricular sado-masochism on the office desk stretch the laws of probability. But Payne writes excellently about the danger of treating sex as a purely mechanical function: one painfully funny scene shows Joy vainly trying to arouse Alan’s enthusiasm by fulfilling his supposed fantasies and donning schoolgirl gear. Yet the limitations of non-physical love are also touchingly exposed in a surprisingly tender scene where Joy and the worshipping Stephen go on a semi-naked picnic.
Directed with great pace and elan by Simon Godwin in the Theatre Upstairs, the piece is vibrantly acted. Stuart McQuarrie and Pippa Haywood as the discontented couple, Sian Brooke and Charles Edwards as the pair who give sexual and emotional relief, and James Musgrave and Isabella Laughland as the assiduously experimenting teenagers are all first-rate. The piece may not have the narrative range of Payne’s first play, which touched on everything from adolescent obesity to global warming, but it confirms he has real talent. And, in an age when sex is constantly commodified, he unfashionably argues that it is best when the heart and the genitalia are working in synch
Wed 15 Sep, 7:00pm
Sat 18 Sep, 4:00pm
Sat 25 Sep, 4:00pm
Sat 2 Oct, 4:00pm
Sat 9 Oct, 4:00pm
Thu 23 Sep, 4:00pm
Thu 30 Sep, 4:00pm
Thu 7 Oct, 4:00pm
Tue 28 Sep, 7:45pm
|Audio Described Performance||
Sat 9 Oct, 4:00pm
See the Dates & Tickets tab for all dates.