A celebration of a great English heroine, Anne Boleyn dramatises the life and legacy of Henry VIII';s notorious second wife, who helped change the course of the nation';s history. Premiered at Shakespeare's Globe in 2010. Best New Play, Whatsonstage.com Awards Traditionally seen as either the pawn of an ambitious family manoeuvred into the King';s bed or as a predator manipulating her way to power, Anne and her ghost are seen in a very different light in Howard Brenton';s epic play. Rummaging through the dead Queen Elizabeth';s possessions upon coming to the throne in 1603, King James I finds alarming evidence that Anne was a religious conspirator, in love with Henry VIII but also with the most dangerous ideas of her day. She comes alive for him, a brilliant but reckless young woman confident in her sexuality, whose marriage and death transformed England for ever. 'This is no dry and dusty history lesson... a witty and engrossing impression of the times that gave birth to our first Elizabethan age, and the subsequent reformation' British Theatre Guide 'The play bursts through the constraints of costume drama'The Independent 'What an absolute delight... a beautifully-written piece of theatre that instantly draws you in into the life and times of both Anne Boleyn and King James I' Whatsonstage.com
A gripping historical drama that dramatises a crucial moment of English history. Premiered at Hampstead Theatre in October 2012. December 1648. The Army has occupied London. Parliament votes not to put the imprisoned king on trial, so the Army moves against Westminster in the first and only military coup in English history. What follows over the next fifty-five days, as Cromwell seeks to compromise with a king who will do no such thing, is nothing less than the forging of a new nation, an entirely new world. Howard Brenton's play depicts the dangerous and dramatic days when, in a country exhausted by Civil War, a few great men attempt to think the unthinkable: to create a country without a king. 'A forgotten era of revolutionary British history is fascinatingly unlocked... electrifying.' Whatonstage.com '[A] confident and idea-packed piece... It could have been a dour history lesson. Instead it engages with the present, raising some pungent questions about the kind of democracy we have in Britain today.' Evening Standard
A timely play based on the true story of an imprisoned Nobel Laureate. On 3 April 2011, as he was boarding a flight to Taipei, the Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei was arrested at Beijing Airport. Advised merely that his travel could damage state security", he was escorted to a van by officials after which he disappeared for 81 days. On his release, the government claimed that his imprisonment related to tax evasion. Howard Brenton's new play is based on Ai Weiwei's account in Barnaby Martin's book Hanging Man, in which he told the story of that imprisonment - by turns surreal, hilarious, and terrifying. A portrait of the artist in extreme conditions, it is also an affirmation of the centrality of art and freedom of speech in civilised society. The play premiered at Hampstead Theatre in April 2013, in a production directed by James Macdonald. 'Moving, scary, gripping, inventive and at times laugh-out-loud funny' Telegraph 'Excellent... like a mix of Kafka and Bennett' Guardian 'Tremendously powerful' Financial Times
An epic, hilarious and moving play that takes a sideways look at the First World War. 1915. Jack Twigg, twenty-one years old, enlists in the London Regiment and goes on a journey he never imagined - nor did the rest of the world. On his way, he meets the pioneering medic Harold Gillies, who saves his life and his sanity. And who is the mysterious Doctor Scroggy who appears at night in Gillies' hospital dispensing champagne to the patients? Doctor Scroggy's War premiered at Shakespeare's Globe, London, in September 2014.
An irreverent and provocative drama questioning the basis of Christianity, by the author of The Romans in Britain. The most famous conversion in history - when Saul became Paul on the road to Damascus - was a trick. It was actually Jesus appearing to him. Jesus did not die on the cross but was rescued and sheltered by his brother James, by Peter and by Peter's wife, Mary Magdalene. But they prefer to keep Paul in the dark because, although he is mistakenly preaching that Christ rose again, at least it keeps him busy and gets the Christian message out there... Now imprisoned by Nero, Peter finally tells Paul the truth before they go to their deaths as the first Christian Martyrs. 'Powerful and thrilling... The beauty, compassion and sense of mystery in Paul's words sends shivers down the spine'- Daily Telegraph 'An exciting play that explores big issues'- Guardian
A fascinating portrait of Harold Macmillan in an epic play about the decline of British fortunes in the middle of the twentieth century. Set against a back-drop of fading Empire, war, the Suez crisis, vintage champagne, adultery and vicious Tory politics at the Ritz, Never So Good paints the portrait of a brilliant, witty but complex man, at times comically and, in the end, tragically out of kilter with his times. Harold Macmillan, the Eton-educated idealist who rushed, with Homer's Iliad under his arm, to do his duty in the Grenadier Guards, is tormented by the harsh experiences of war and an unhappy marriage. His career in the 1930s is blocked by his loyalty to Winston Churchill, and he nearly loses his life in the Second World War. When at last he becomes Prime Minister he is brought down by the Profumo scandal. 'gripping, compassionate and often delightfully comic... his finest achievement to date' - Telegraph
A spellbinding new telling of a passionate and legendary love story. When Abelard begins a wild affair with his brilliant student Heloise, his enemies find the perfect pretext to destroy him. Abelard is already on thin ice with the church over his contentious views and when Heloise bears his child out of wedlock, their affair becomes the scandal of the age Previously published as In Extremis, this new version of the play premiered in February 2014, co-produced by English Touring Theatre and the Globe Theatre. 'fascinating' - Guardian 'A passionate, bracing play of ideas that has topical urgency as well as historical fascination' - Financial Times 'Romeo and Juliet with more brains... Brenton peers into medieval mindsets with an unashamedly modern sensibility. Highly recommended' - Daily Telegraph 'a play for today in medieval costume' - Independent
A vivid telling of the chaotic story of the partition that shaped the modern world. London, 1947. Summoned by the Prime Minister from the court where he is presiding judge, Cyril Radcliffe is given an unlikely mission. He is to travel to India, a country he has never visited, and, with limited survey information, no expert support and no knowledge of cartography, he is to draw the border which will divide the Indian sub-continent into two new Sovereign Dominions. To make matters even more challenging, he has only six weeks to complete the task. Wholly unsuited to his role, Radcliffe is unprepared for the dangerous whirlpool of political intrigue and passion into which he is plunged untold consequences may even result from the illicit liaison between the Leader of the Congress Party and the Viceroy's wife As he begins to break under the pressure he comes to realise that he holds in his hands the fate of millions of people. Drawing the Line premiered at the Hampstead Theatre, London in December 2013. 'powerful... a fascinating play which views colonial culpability from an unexpected and singularly revealing angle' - Independent 'Brenton is a masterly storyteller... the play expertly draws you into the maelstrom' - Financial Times'Brenton knows how to make history manifest... gives a vivid picture of the pressures of the time' - Guardian'fleet and fascinating' - WhatsOnStage'crisp, elegant and revelatory... a fascinating story of mixed intentions and rushed folly' - The Stage