Year : June 2002

Theatre : Loft, National Theatre

Cast :
Andrew Lincoln |Catherine McCormack | Dylan Brown | Ian Redford
Laurance Mitchell | Nicola Walker | Paul Wyett | Stephen Beresford

Playwright : Simon Bowen

Director : Thea Sharrock

The Loft

In 2002, Trevor Nunn, who was then Artistic Director at the National Theatre, decided to create a flexible 100-seater space where the National could put on experimental work designed to appeal to a public younger than its greying mailing-list. The Loft was created by splitting the rectilinear Lyttelton Theatre into two spaces, with the Loft space seating about 100. Free was offered as part of the season titled, Transformation, at the Loft. This experiment lasted about 5 months. The reconstruction of the Lyttelton Theatre was designed as a kit that can be stored and used in future, though since 2002, it hasn’t been used again.

What’s the play about?

The description was taken from the National Theatre website

A temp takes off, a head-hunter wins a Dreamcast. A father hires a boy and a daughter needs an escort. The successful and the damaged ricochet around the metropolis. Emotion becomes a commodity with violent consequences in this savage, funny first play.


This review was posted in The Stage on 7 June 2002 by Neil Dowden

The National’s Transformation season of new plays by young writers continues with Simon Bowen’s bleakly comic first full length play.

In a series of short, punchy scenes, we follow the interwined experiences of eight confused, lost souls searching for meaning in their lives in an anonymous London. Although the characters are sharply observed, their self-centeredness means that none of them fully engage our sympathies but Bowen’s wry humor prevents the angst from becoming too relentless.

Company owner Kate is as successful in her career as she is a failure in her personal relationships, particularly with her estranged father. Sophie wants to do something more creative than temping but her headhunter boyfriend Alex accuses her of escapism, while perpetual backpacker Chris is disgusted by his friend for selling out to a rat-race job rather than go travelling with him.

Then there is a Mephistophelean capitalist and a wannabe actor who works as an escort. But the main character is really London itself – city of dreams or urban dystopia?

Rachel Blues’ sleek design has perspex screens with images evoking the changing metropolitan locations, such as art gallery or sushi bar. Thea Sharrock diets with pace, pressure and precision – each scene crackles with tension.

Nicola Walker excels as the emotionally repressed Kate, Catherine McCormack is a convincingly desperate Sophie, Andrew Lincoln shows how Alex’s stress turns into violence and Dylan Brown reveals the disturbing obsessiveness beneath Chris’ laid back manner. These people are not so much free as in free fall.

A review from The Independent posted on 28 May 2002

Thea Sharrock’s production, though, is played to perfection, with Nicola Walker, who gives Kate the falsely pleasant, flat tone she substitutes for charm

Six degrees

Thea Sharrock also directed Nicola in Mrs Klein [Stage].