Modern Dance for Beginners

The original production was performed as part of the Rose Bruford College Director’s Showcase at the Finborough Theatre, London and ran from 5-23 June 2001. The production was directed by Elizabeth Freestone and featured the following cast:

• Owen, Kieran, Russell, Skinner – Daniel Tomlinson
• Frances, Julia, Eleri, Lorraine – Nicola Walker

The play was subsequently staged by the Soho Theatre Company at the Soho Theatre, London and ran from 23 September 2002 – 19 October 2002. The production was directed by Jonathan Lloyd and featured the following cast change:

• Owen, Kieran, Russell, Skinner – Justin Salinger

The action of the play takes place over the course of a year and is set in the present, the very recent past and variable futures. All the characters are played by the same actor and actress with changes of costume taking place on stage in between scenes, each character helping to dress and undress the other.

Playwright : Sarah Phelps

Wikipedia has more information on this play HERE.

There is also a scene by scene description of the play at the StageJobsPro website.

Penny Tulla, the set designer for this play, had this to say about this production

I had the privilege of designing the first ever production of this play. It is an exciting play because it is contemporary, punchy and wry. It challenges the designer to create quick changes between a range of modern environments, and inject visual interest in to everyday interiors. Nicola Walker has a great stage presence, so I chose very low key design that would focus all attention on her. Props and small visual signifiers constituted the bulk of the set.

There is clip on YouTube of another production of this play. This might give you some idea of Nicola’s performance in the original production.



Even though most of the reviews were lukewarm about the play, the reviewers were generous with their praise for Nicola’s performance.

British Theatre Guide


Nicola Walker switches expertly from the upper crust wife yearning for a bit of rough, to the cold company strategist


Nicola Walker counters [co-star Justin Salinger’s character) with yet another excellent portrait of a tough broad; this actress is so good at doing abrasive-yet-vulnerable that, as here and in her last play, Free, she makes playwrights who haven’t done enough work look much better than they should.

Times Literary Supplement

Nicola Walker has a wonderful presence and her transformations of character are impressive.


If the aggression of the writing is a bit much (at times, Phelps’ seems determined to out “Closer” Patrick Marber when it comes to dramatizing the sex wars), you can’t fault the vigor of Jonathan Lloyd’s direction and his two performers, both of whom play four roles. Nicola Walker continues to be one of the London theater’s more coiled presences, while colleague Justin Salinger (late of “Privates on Parade”) among its more sad eyed and appealing. The play may come down with affectless predictability on the side of simply “carrying on,” but at least it has players who carry us along with it.

Six degrees

Sarah Phelps, the playwright, was a roommate of Nicola’s when both of them first started their career in London in the early 1990s. Nicola has performed in a number of plays and TV shows written by Sarah Phelps, including Oliver Twist and Being Human : The Longest Day.