Category Archive: London/Sea Wall

SEA WALL reviews round-up Dublin

We had an absolute ball in Dublin for Andrew Scott’s homecoming as SEA WALL played a very special week of shows at Project Arts Centre as a guest of Dublin Theatre Festival.

Thanks so much to our generous hosts, and to all of you who came to see the show.

Here’s what the critics had to say:

“Rare magic… a very special theatre moment”
RTE Radio 1

“It will seduce and destroy you… Stephens’ play is really about absence, about nothingness, about unfathomable depths. It’s a subject that long occupied Shakespeare and Beckett, and this extraordinary performance may be worthy of them.”
★★★★★ Irish Times

“Leaves us well and truly devastated. A tears-rolling-down-cheeks, heavy-breathing, can’t-pull-ourselves-together kinda mess… exquisite… mesmerising… extraordinarily touching… a masterclass in writing and presentation.”
★★★★★ The Herald

“A heart-wrenching, breathtaking half hour of theatre… a masterpiece.”
Irish Independent

Sea Wall credit Kevin Cummins 680 x 395


SEA WALL in Dublin

Super excited to announce SEA WALL will play a strictly limited run in Dublin this month courtesy of The Dublin Theatre Festival.

Andrew Scott reprises his acclaimed performance in Simon Stephens’ unforgettable story about family, fear and the things that can’t be undone, last seen at The National Theatre’s Temporary Space in Summer 2013.

In a new partnership with the lovely folks at Dublin Theatre Festival, we’ll be presenting SEA WALL at Project Arts Centre for eight performances only 23 – 28 February. You can snap up tickets when booking opens on 5 February right here.

All the info on the show is here. And check out this stunning new portrait of Andrew shot last week on Waterloo Bridge by legendary rock and roll photographer Kevin Cummins

Sea Wall credit Kevin Cummins 680 x 395

See you in Dublin’s fair city.

Review of the Year 2013

Our Programme 2013 saw us produce new work by 15 playwrights across 8 productions touring to 44 towns and cities nationwide.

We send love and thanks to all who came to see a PP show this year, and we hope you’ll join us in 2014 as we celebrate our 40th Anniversary with a stellar programme of new plays on tour.

Meantime, here’s a quick lowdown on the year that was…

WASTED by Kate Tempest
Back by popular demand, WASTED completed our inaugural CAMPUS tour of Student Unions before a second sold-out run at London’s Roundhouse, where we live streamed a performance for the first time.

“Ingenious…funny and true.”
★★★★ The Guardian

“A slender, wistful three-way play that’s as seductive as smoke.”
★★★★ Time Out

You still have one more day to catch the live stream if you missed it!

LUNGS by Duncan Macmillan
Our co-production with Sheffield Theatres of Duncan Macmillan’s award-winning, much-loved LUNGS was broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

“The most beautiful… shattering play of the year.”
★★★★★ Sunday Express

GOOD WITH PEOPLE by David Harrower
First co-produced by Paines Plough and Òran Mór as part of A Play, A Pie and A Pint in 2010, GOOD WITH PEOPLE made it all the way to 59E59 Theatres in New York in 2013.

“Harrower’s beautiful, deceptive wisp of a play…Duff and Scott-Ramsay are perfection.”
Ben Brantley, New York Times

On home soil, we took COME TO WHERE I’M FROM – our theatrical tapestry of the UK, woven by writers asking if home is really where the heart is – to Plymouth and Leeds this year.

Check out some insights from our playwrights here.

In partnership with Pentabus, we premiered Duncan MacMillan’s EVERY BRILLIANT THING at Ludlow Fringe Festival and Ledbury Poetry Festival last summer.

Here’s what audiences had to say:

“Altogether so human, so relatable…it uplifts and enlightens, exploring the joy and endless possibility of humanity.”

SEA WALL by Simon Stephens
Andrew Scott reprised his acclaimed performance for an exclusive seven nights only in Simon Stephens’ SEA WALL at The Shed at The National Theatre.

“One of the most devastating 30 minutes you are ever likely to experience in the theatre.”
Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“As engaging and devastating a piece of theatre as you’re likely to find….”
★★★★★ Independent

Following the huge success of WASTED, we were reunited with performance poet Kate Tempest for HOPELESSLY DEVOTED, which opened with our co-producers at Birmingham Rep and toured the Midlands in September-October. HOPELESSLY DEVOTED will return for a Spring 2014 tour.

“The play sings and soars, a little shard of lyrical brilliance… startlingly beautiful.”
★★★★ The Times

“Outstanding… The writing is fantastic, with just the right balance of spoken word, song and dialogue.”
★★★★★ The Public Reviews

And some words from our Tweeters:

“Absolutely loved #HopelesslyDevoted. Now that’s the theatre that gets my blood pumping.”

And last but certainly not least, Tom Wells’ infectiously funny, critically acclaimed football rom-com JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS, which we co-produced with Watford Palace Theatre and Hull Truck.

“The perfect winter-warmer…blissfully funny…deeply affecting”
★★★★★ Daily Telegraph

“Wells has given us another winner…Unreservedly recommended.”
★★★★★ Independent

“A razor sharp, beautifully human script that brings to life characters that every one of us will know, but whom rarely get to claim their space within gay culture.”
★★★★★ Attitude Magazine

And on the Twittersphere:

“Jumpers for Goalposts. One of the best pieces of theatre I’ve seen this year. Am totally speechless.”

Playing at The Bush Theatre until 4 January 2014. Book tickets here.

It’s been a wonderful year of theatre (and cake!) and there’s no denying we couldn’t have had as much without you (and cake!) coming along for the ride.

So – keep eating cake, and we wish you all a merry Christmas! Catch you next year?

Team PP x

Cupcake? :)

Andrew Scott in SEA WALL at NT Shed

Eeeek. This is proper exciting…

Olivier and BAFTA Award winner Andrew Scott will reprise his acclaimed performance in SEA WALL by Simon Stephens for seven performances only at The Shed at The National Theatre.

Yes. That’s right. Book now.

Have you booked? Good. Because this is one you do not want to miss.

“One of the most devastating 30 minutes you are ever likely to experience in the theatre,” reckons Guardian critic Lyn Gardner. “As engaging and devastating a piece of theatre as you’re likely to find,” reckons The Independent’s Alice Jones.

SEA WALL is a story about family, fear and the things that can’t be undone.

Things for Alex are good. He loves his wife, his daughter, his city, his job. But sometimes the force of life can crash against you. Sometimes everything you thought you could always depend on can be taken away.

We are super proud to present the show alongside our friends at The National Theatre and to give you another chance to see this gem of a play. SEA WALL plays for just seven performances in the NT’s awesome temporary venue The Shed, from 25 July to 2 August 2013. Did we mention you should book?

Andrew first performed Simon’s unforgettable story as part of The Broken Space Season at The Bush, for which the play was commissioned. The show was the hit of The Edinbugh Festival in 2009 before a further run at The Bush. Last year, SEA WALL made up one half of our touring production LONDON.

And now, it’s back…

(You have booked, right?)

LONDON Nominated at Manchester Theatre Awards

We are over the moon that our 2012 co-production of Simon StephensLONDON has been nominated for Best Studio Production at the Manchester Theatre Awards 2013.

Abby Ford in LONDON nominated at the MTA Awards this week

Directed by our Joint AD GeorgeLONDON was the UK premiere of a new project incorporating the critically acclaimed Sea Wall and T5 starring Cary Crankson (who has just finished touring with Kate Tempest’s WASTED) and Abby Ford.

As George is in New York opening GOOD WITH PEOPLE this week and James is rehearsing for JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS Paines Plough regular Cary is representing Team PP- Fingers Crossed!

LONDON reviews round-up

Cary Crankson in LONDON by Simon Stephens

Tomorrow night sees the final performance of our Programme 2012.

LONDON by Simon Stephens completes its nationwide tour tomorrow night at Manchester Royal Exchange, having wowed audiences in Salisbury, Brighton, Newcastle and Glasgow.

Here’s a quick round-up of some of the reviews…

“A beautiful hour of theatre, as persuasive as it is heartbreaking.”
★★★★ The Scotsman

“A masterpiece of understatement.”
★★★★ The Herald

“Truly powerful theatre.”
★★★★ The Public Reviews

“Absolutely engrossing.”
★★★★★ The Good Review

“As thought-provoking piece of theatre as I’ve seen in a long while.”
Shields Gazette

“The audience in total silence, spellbound.”
Western Daily Press (print only)

“An incredible piece of theatre.”
The Brighton Magazine

And here are some of the things audiences have been saying on Twitter:

@kelly_lou_smith: Cannot believe how amazing London was, just the most absorbing, beautiful piece of theatre I’ve ever seen… @painesplough @StephensSimon

@NTS_Anna: Well @painesplough #LONDON just broke my little heart. Amazing.

@roodavey: Just seen @painesplough’s ‘London’ at the Exchange. Still a bit shell shocked. Beautiful piece of theatre.

@dawn_rebecca: Had a smashing time at LONDON by @painesplough on Saturday night. Really great writing – thoroughly refreshing. Recommend!!

@ROMA_YAGNIK: still a bit emotionally fragile after watching the brilliant LONDON at Live theatre

@lolba: #Londonplay was fantastic. Gripping, tragic, touching & fragile. Those are my words for it ;) Well done to all involved. @painesplough

@detailista: @painesplough @LiveTheatre #Londonplay – one of best theatre experiences in a very long time – claustrophobic, visceral, provoking.

@tobystanding: “London” at Salisbury playhouse was incredible. #heartbroken

Abby Ford in LONDON by Simon Stephens

Go Bush – Reflections on LONDON

There’s an old Australian saying ‘to go bush’ which means to leave the city and all your cares behind.

What made me think of that wasn’t a trip to the outback but a train ride through the rolling landscape of Northern England. During the past few weeks Paines Plough have been travelling round the country with our newest show LONDON by Simon Stephens and although all the theatres we have visited have been city based, it has meant some wonderful journeys through the British countryside. And LONDON has got me thinking – the city is such a busy place that it can be difficult to pause and reflect or find the time to deal with your problems.

Don’t get me wrong here, I love living and working in the city – I grew up in the countryside but have always been more of a London-girl at heart. Everything you need is only a short walk from your house and you can go from the bustling Southbank, to Borough market, to a club on Bricklane in less than 40 minutes (allowing for no problems with TFL of course).  But as Alex (one of the characters in the play) remarks “the noise of the place and the dirt and the colour and the roar of it” can be so constant it’s stifling.

What I find fascinating about LONDON is that it is a play about London but not set there, indeed there is no specific location indicated by the script. Instead the play’s setting is within the stories and lives of its two characters. London isn’t the over-riding theme of the play, but rather a backdrop and stimulus to its narratives. And it is the people who live in a city that give it its character.

LONDON tells two different stories of city life – one of escape and the other return. A woman finds herself on a train to Heathrow in a desperate attempt to leave all her problems behind. Alex comes back to his home in London and is unable to find the peace and quiet to heal.  Sitting on the early morning train back from Glasgow one of the lines from the play popped into my head: “I can see the world with a clarity I’ve never even dreamed of before”.  It is very true that living in a city it can be hard to find the time to think. Maybe we all need to escape to the country every now and again, even if only for a few hours, to keep us sane.

LONDON isn’t actually coming to London but is touring to other major UK cities, and you can still catch it in Glasgow this week at the Tron Theatre and next week at the Royal Exchange in Manchester.

And let us know what you love most about living in the city…


In praise of . . . Glasgow

‘There’s been a wee boo-boo’ . . .

. . . is the phrase that will be remembered from Paines Plough’s rehearsal period in Glasgow this summer gone. Not a reference to our production of Good with People, it is instead the reaction of a pensioner in the local press talking about the North Korean Olympic flag debacle.  But rather than being a cause for continued embarrassment, we think it encapsulates our opinion of the city perfectly.

Because there has been a wee boo-boo if anyone south of the border thinks that Edinburgh is the only Scottish city worth visiting. Glasgow is the veritable arts capital of the country. It has a proud past, striking architecture and is the jumping off point for some of the most breath-taking scenery that the United Kingdom has to offer.

We’re off to the The Tron Theatre next week with London (have you booked yet?), so it’s just the right time to update our Glasgow hit list.

Oran Mor

Paines Plough knows this part of town well. We have worked on numerous of the Play, Pie and a Pint productions at Oran Mor. It’s a lunchtime thing where the main course is a hearty portion of new writing, with a side order of pie and ale all at an extremely reasonable price. We think the clue is in the name. The setting is a gutted church, and the atmosphere inside is what brings us back each time. Safe to say it is less about worship and more about revelry as the additional comedy nights, live music and unbeatable whisky selection retain the parish’s congregation. Worth mentioning also is the surrounding West End area. Set in the backdrop of Kelvingrove Park, it is home to Glasgow University and some impressive Victorian architecture.

Citizens’ Theatre

We promise to stop talking about theatre in a second (sort of). The third venue in town that is always worth a visit is the Citizens’ Theatre. They’ve recently done a co-production with Mike Bartlett on his re-write of Medea and they also hosted us on the Love, Love, Love tour. Its trademark black and bright pink interiors are all part of the fun. National Theatre of Scotland often use the space for their productions and under Dominic Hill’s artistic direction, we are always looking forward to what they come up with next.

Trongate 103

This is somewhere we are yet to visit but which comes highly recommended. Billed as an arts resource space, it is home to trendy creative organisations and has a year round gallery space. The people in charge also programme talks and readings to bring together the creative folk of Glasgow and whilst PP are there, composer Nigel Clark will be hosting one of his regular gigs with actress Judith Williams.

Arisaig restaurant

Bringing food to share with another Paines Plough staff member is a bit of a double-edged sword. Sure, you’ll be greeted with smiles and warm wishes, but you’d be fooled to think that your colleague is demonstrating a particularly spirited reaction to your presence in the office. They’re really just wondering what’s in your Tesco bag and woe-betide if it’s not at least 60% glucose based. Although not sugar, Arisaig does venison sausages and some of the snappiest seafood going. If you’re in town to watch London, try this place in Merchant City for pre or post-show dining. Just don’t go with one of us lot – blink and you’ll only have those especially bloody chunk of haggis left on your plate.


Ok, so we’re sort of back to theatre with this one. But seeing as Sarah had reputedly never gone further north than the Watford Gap before starting at Paines Plough, we’ve already booked her into this Glasgow museum. It’s theatre because the centrepiece is a black box sound and light show. Over fifteen minutes the entire history of Glasgow is projected onto the floor from an impressive looking rig to educate those new to the city, or just unaware. It also shows how the Commonwealth Games in 2014 are going to look.

The Botanic Gardens

By night, the glass domes of Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens look like giant glowing spinning tops – and if you were lucky enough to catch Three Sisters at the Young Vic you’ll know how mesmerising those can be. With walks next to the River Kelvin, the gardens are immaculate and provide a welcome break from the rumble of the city. Although not quite the Highlands, it’ll do for a few hours for script reading and switching the iphone onto flight mode.

The Tron

Last but not least is our home for the week, The Tron. It is home to the majority of Glasgow’s new writing and is one of the leading players is Scottish theatre. The week before we are there, friend of the family Blythe Duff will be giving another stalwart performance in Rona Munro’s thriller Iron, and just after us there is a Macbeth partly in Gaelic. Michael Boyd was at the helm once upon a time, and it is real pleasure to be playing the space on our London tour. We cannot wait.

Have we missed anything out? Let us know.

And have you booked your tickets yet? Do it here.

London UK Tour – Audience reviews

As LONDON comes to the end of its run at Live Theatre in Newcastle we have been inundated with feedback from audiences there about the show.

Here are just some of the lovely comments and thank you to everyone for their feedback:

“Gripping. Intense. Memorable. Good atmosphere in theatre. Will look to come to more plays.”

“Fantastic concept, very enjoyable and I don’t usually like monologues,”

“Beautifully acted and engrossing. Completely mesmerising, despite its minimalistic approach. The actor’s subtle approach to heartbreaking emotion heightened the tension. I especially loved the script.”

“Never have I felt so much empathy for two characters.”

“Intense, transfixing, fascinating – a real talking point and unique experience.”

“Refreshing, very different from anything I’ve seen before. Very moving. Excellent”

“Silence at the end spoke volumes. Utterly captivating, suprising and will have us talking for hours now.”

“Both parts of the performance were riveting and thought provoking; both excellently performed. First part gave insight into unravelling of a person’s mind due to an unfortunate incident and the repercussions. Second part: thought provoking, almost disturbing look at tragic incident and its divesting consequences.”

“An astonishing event. Superb writing, outstanding performances. Though-provoking, moving, entertaining, haunting.

“I was captivated. I am moved. Thank you”

If you’ve seen the show in Salisbury, Brighton or Newcastle let us know what you thought by commenting below or tweeting @painesplough #LondonPlay.

There are only a few days more to catch the show at the brilliant Live Theatre in Newcastle before it moves on Saturday, when it then goes to the Tron Theatre in Glasgow from Tue 13th – Sat 17th and finishing at the Royal Exchange in Manchester from Tue 20th – Sat 24th.

LONDON trailer

Here’s the film trailer for LONDON by Simon Stephens, created by those geniuses Mathy & Fran.

Check it, and tell us what you think by leaving a comment or tweeting us @painesplough with the hashtag #LondonPlay.

For further information, tour dates and tickets for LONDON click here.

You can see more PP trailers, films and video clips over on our YouTube Channel.