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Hampstead Theatre Downstairs - Autumn 2013

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

HAMPSTEAD Theatre Downstairs has announced its programme for Autumn 2013 and it includes three new plays by three new Downstairs writers; Michael Attenborough directing Downstairs for the first time; and Tracy-Ann Oberman making her acting Downstairs debut.

The season opens with Alexandra Wood’s The Empty Quarter, which runs from September 26 to October 26.

There’s a lot wrong with this place. But nowhere’s perfect.

Dubai seems to offer British twenty-somethings Greg and Holly everything they could want: tax-free income, a brand new apartment and an exotic landscape waiting to be explored. But surviving on the edge of a desert in a society they don’t understand proves more difficult than they could have imagined.

In need of help they turn to fellow expats Gemma and Patrick but soon start to question why it is they came, and whether they’ll ever get home…

Alexandra Wood’s new play studies the challenges of living in a foreign land, and where or to whom we belong. Winner of the George Devine Award 2007 for most promising playwright, Wood is currently Paines Plough’s Big Room Playwright-in-Resident. Her previous theatre credits include an adaptation of Jung Chang’s Wild Swans (Young Vic), The Eleventh Capital (Royal Court Theatre) and Unbroken (Gate Theatre). She also contributed to Decade (Headlong).

Award-winning director Anna Ledwich returns to Hampstead Downstairs following last year’s sell-out hit Donny’s Brain. Her other theatre credits include Blue Remembered Hills (Chichester Festival Theatre), Dream Story (Gate Theatre) and Lulu (Gate Theatre/Headlong).

Full casting has yet to be confirmed.

The Empty Quarter is followed – from October 31 to November 30 – by Deborah Bruce’s Godchild.

I’m so OLD. I feel like I’m 19, but I can’t be because she is. That’s what 19 looks like, there she is.

Lou is getting on with her life, carefree and without ties. But this abruptly comes to a halt when her 19 year old god-daughter Minnie moves in to take up a place at university. Minnie’s arrival shines a harsh light into the corners of Lou’s life – revealing it to be not as it seems. Her relationships are complicated, her neighbours are closing in on her, and the clock is ticking. What does it mean to be a grown up?

Director turned writer Deborah Bruce’s dark comedy explores the inescapable realities between feeling 19 and being 19. Bruce’s play, The Distance, has recently been nominated for The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Godchild is directed by Hampstead Theatre’s former Artistic Director Michael Attenborough, whose most recent credits as Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre include King Lear, Reasons to be Pretty and Measure for Measure.

Tracy-Ann Oberman makes her Hampstead Downstairs debut following the sell-out run of Old Money on the Main Stage earlier this year. Her most recent theatre credits include Boeing! Boeing! (Comedy Theatre) and Earthquakes in London (Headlong/National Theatre). She has also appeared on television in Doctor Who, EastEnders and Monroe.

Full casting for Godchild has yet to to be confirmed.

Completing the season is Ali Taylor’s Fault Lines, which runs from December 5 to January 4, 2014.

Christmas is actually a very good time to have a disaster. It’s the season of goodwill… The Indonesians did very well to have their tsunami on Boxing Day. It was good timing.

7.32am. Christmas Eve. Disasters Relief’s staff parties are legendary – but their aftermath cataclysmic. Nick and Abi wake amidst the carnage to breaking news: a massive earthquake has struck Pakistan.

Gathering their clothes – and dignity – the race with rivals Oxfam begins. Who can be the first to dispatch branded aid in full view of the world media? And how far are they willing to go? With the appalling spectre of last night’s antics hanging over everything, the day rapidly spirals into a dizzying web of secrets and lies.

Ali Taylor’s ‘razor sharp’ new comedy exposes the dilemmas of working in a modern charity and asks whether doing good is the same as being good. He makes his Hampstead debut after winning the Meyer Whitworth Award in 2008 for his first play Cotton Wool (Theatre503). His other credits include Overspill (Soho Theatre) and Sticks and Stones (Polka Theatre).

Fault Lines is directed by Lisa Spirling, who returns to Hampstead Downstairs following last year’s I Know How I Feel About Eve. She reunites with Taylor following the critically acclaimed Cotton Wool. Her other credits include Michael Frayn’s Here (Rose Theatre, Kingston) and Hundreds and Thousands (Soho Theatre).

Full casting has yet to be confirmed.

For more information or to book, call the box office on 020 7722 9301 or visit www.hampsteadtheatre.com/.