Simon Stephens’ 2017 one-act play Nuclear War gets its first revival in March as part of a new triple bill at London’s Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington under newly appointed artistic director Alexander Knott.
Revitalising the creative and cultural integrity of the fringe venue, which marked its fortieth anniversary last year, the “Old Red Lion Triptych” runs from 3 to 21 March 2020, with a press night on 6 March and a post-show Q&A chaired by MyTheatreMates founder Terri Paddock with Simon Stephens, Alexander Knott and other creatives on 18 March.
Multi-award-winning Stephens’ many other plays include Sea Wall, Heisenberg, Birdland, Punk Rock, Pornography, Harper Regan, Country Music, Motortown, One Minute, Port, Herons, Bluebird and his Tony and Olivier Award-winning adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
At the Old Red Lion, Stephens’ short play Nuclear War is accompanied by two premiere productions from emerging talent: Buried by David Spencer and Graceland by Max Saunders-Singer. These plays find commonality in the exploration of human suffering and how we survive the unimaginable, resonating with today’s fraught social divisions in a not-so-United Kingdom.
Alexander Knott comments:
“Being able to stage the first revival of Nuclear War by Simon Stephens, which was something of a cult smash when it premiered at the Royal Court, is going to be a thrilling and cathartic theatrical experience. I believe that this triptych of plays, when brought together, will tell the story of human endurance in the face of the insurmountable, and hopefully engage and galvanise a new audience for the theatre, on a fringe level.”
Following the current trend of ‘box-set theatre’, the triptych is a new model for the Old Red Lion, using a world-renowned playwright to support emerging talent, building a new way of seeing and supporting new writing.
The experimental and physically charged Nuclear War will be directed by Knott in his directorial debut at The Old Red Lion. Stephens’ suggestive open text acts as a stimulus for interpretation, creating a revival far removed from the initial premiere at the Royal Court in 2017.
It is a heart-breaking and soul-stopping movement piece about a woman who needs to experience everything life has to offer, in order to feel something again.
With a running time of 40 minutes, Nuclear War is performed by Zoe Grain and Freya Sharp and has movement by Georgia Richardson and design by Anna Kezia Williams. Lewie Watson is assistant director.
Buried is the harrowing true story of Max Spencer, who was buried alive in World War II. It’s written by his son David Spencer and performed by his real-life grandson, James Demaine. This intergenerational and groundbreaking anti-war play is a truthful examination of the human condition. It’s directed by Alexander Knott and Ryan Hutton and has a running time of 50 minutes.
Rounding off the triple-bill is the darkly comic Graceland, a monologue from an overworked and harassed science teacher who is one small spark away from combustion. Pushed to the edge, and with his personal life unravelling, there’s a looming darkness in the classroom.
Graceland is written by Max Saunders-Singer and directed by Sonnie Beckett. It has a running time of 30 minutes. Casting is yet to be announced.
The Old Red Lion Triptych is produced by Boxless Theatre, Bag of Beard, Grindstone and Take Two Theatricals.
Nuclear War / Buried / Graceland run from 3 to 21 March 2020 at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John St, Islington, London EC1V 4NJ with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, Saturday matinees at 3pm. Tickets priced £16.50-£18.50. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!