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Abi Morgan and Dennis Kelly to make Royal Court Theatre debuts

Preview by Jack Foley

ABI Morgan and Dennis Kelly are to make their debuts at The Royal Court Theatre in London this winter.

Morgan’s play, The Mistress Contract, will be directed by the theatre’s artistic director Vicky Featherstone, who announced its inclusion as part of her first season at the venue.

The production is based on tape recordings that chart a decades-long affair between a real-life couple who still live on the west coast of America. The couple – now 88 (the woman) and 93 – first met at university and began an affair 20 years later when he was a wealthy businessman and she was raising her children “in a loveless marriage”.

The woman is further described as highly educated and with “a history of involvement in the feminist movement”.

They decided to record their affair after she faxed her lover a contract offering “mistress services” in return for a home and an income. He subsequently signed it.

Featherstone commented: “At every meeting, every dinner, every breakfast, during sex, she had the tape recorder on – it charts a cultural journey of the last 40 years.”

Casting for the play, which will take the form of “a two-hander for two older actors”, has yet to be announced.

Morgan’s recent writing credits include The Iron Lady, which starred Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, and Steve McQueen’s film about sex addiction, Shame.

The Mistress Contract will run from January 30 to March 8, 2014.

Prior to that, Kelly – who co-wrote hit musical Matilda – will make his Royal Court debut with The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas from September 5 to October 19, 2013.

Described by Featherstone as a “dark morality tale”, the play follows the lifespan of a man caught up in capitalist greed. Featherstone will also direct.

Both productions form part of her inaugural season as artistic director, which runs from September 2013 to February 2014 and both will be seen in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs.

Another hot ticket promises to be vampire drama Let The Right One In, adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s best-seller, and which is billed as a “brutal vampire myth and coming-of-age love story”. It runs from December 5 to December 21, 2013 (previews from November 29). There will be a number of £10 tickets for under 26s available. Find out more

And from January (9-18), Lisa Dwan will perform three short pieces by Beckett – Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby – ahead of an international tour.

In the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, the season opens in September (2-14, 2013) with the return of Open Court’s Peckham: The Soap Opera, while from September 10-14 there will be a series of readings of new plays from Chile, which promise a “rare insight into life in Chile today”.

These will be followed by a series of plays centred around Islam, commencing with Routes, a new play by Rachel Delahay that explores immigration and belonging, running from September 20 to October 12, 2013, and directed by Simon Godwin.

Richard Twyman will then direct The Djinns of Eidgah, a new play from India by Abhishek Majumdar, which was first performed at the Royal Court as a reading in 2012. The production will focus on two orphaned brothers who are stranded by the troubles in Kashmir. It runs from October 18 to November 9, 2013.

In December, Gastronauts aims to offer theatre-goers a light-hearted exploration of food for the festive season. It has been conceived by Open Court writers and will be directed by Wils Wilson. It runs for a month from November 21 to December 21, 2013.

Tickets for the new Royal Court season go on general sale on Thursday, July 11.