Previewed 5 October 2017, Opened 12 October 2017, Closed 14 November 2017 at the National Theatre's Dorfman Theatre
Previewed 15 January 2018, Opened 23 January 2018, Closed 24 March 2018 at the Ambassadors Theatre
David Eldridge's acclaimed new play Beginning in London starring Justine Mitchell and Sam Troughton
Every story starts somewhere. It's the early hours of the morning and Danny's the last straggler at Laura's party. The flat's in a mess. And so are they. One more drink?
David Eldridge's new play is a tender and funny look at the first fragile moments of risking your heart and taking a chance.
Following an acclaimed sold-out run at the National Theatre in 2016 this production transfers to London's West End for a strictly limited ten week season with both Justine Mitchell and Sam Troughton reprising their roles in this two-hander play.
The cast features Justine Mitchell as 'Laura' and Sam Troughton as 'Danny' who are both reprising their roles from the original 2017 National Theatre staging. Directed by Polly Findlay with movement by Naomi Said, designs by Fly Davis, lighting by Jack Knowles and sound by Paul Arditti. This production was original seen at the National Theatre's Dorfman Theatre (previewed from 5 October 2017, opened on 12 October 2017 and closed on 14 November 2017).
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of the show, we are unable to admit latecomers and there will be no re-admittance into the auditorium. This production contains strong language and adult themes.
When this production opened here at the Ambassadors Theatre in January 2018, Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard praised this "beautifully observed portrait of lonely people navigating the awkwardness of lust and longing. It's wise, tender and funny... Justine Mitchell perfectly captures the conflict in Laura between common sense and wit, ambition and disarming candour. As Danny, Sam Troughton has a slightly richer role, and he's superb - wary, wounded and oddly charming." Chris Bennion in the Times explained how "David Eldridge's bruising, painfully real rom-com two-hander takes the everyday and makes it extraordinary... Justine Mitchell is a delight as the funny, astute Laura... in Sam Troughton, Eldridge, that bard of estuary English, has surely found his ideal leading man. Troughton's way with Eldridge's choppy, naturalistic dialogue is majestic, making the motormouth Danny by turns hilarious and unbearably tragic."
When this production was originally seen at the National Theatre's Dorfman Theatre in October 2017, Dominic Maxwell in the Times hailed it as being a "gripping, funny and tender... a glorious evening." Paul Taylor in the i newspaper highlighted that "David Eldridge's new play is a wry, funny and touching meditation on loneliness, that private shame of the singleton. Written with a real depth of insight, humour, compassion and a keen sense of the ridiculous... The performances - by Sam Troughton and Justine Mitchell - do superlative justice to the texture and truthfulness of the writing... Creating convincingly good drama is a rare gift. Eldridge possesses it, as he does the skill to sustain it in real time about battle-scarred mid-lifers." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times commented that "the performers are unfussily excellent... It's a lovely piece of work: out of the NT's normal run of material, particularly in this space, but none the worse for that." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph wrote that this new play "at a stroke propels this superb, subtle but rather undersung playwright back into the premier league... In its wisdom and humour the piece called to mind a youthful Eldridge hit of 17 years ago - Under the Blue Sky, directed at the Royal Court by one Rufus Norris - which later made its way into the West End. This should do, too. It's a beaut, end of. Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard described how "it's the tentative (anti) romance for 21st-century London life and it is, quite simply, magnificent... Polly Findlay's exquisitely choreographed production of confident naturalism triumphs,... Eldridge's brutal, beautiful honesty about the loneliness of modern metropolitan living is never less than utterly refreshing." Michael Billington in the Guardian said that "Polly Findlay's production has the right jagged rhythm, Fly Davis's design is full of celebratory clutter and the two performers hit exactly the right note," as they "peel away the protective layers in a play that leaves you caring deeply about its characters and which adds unusual poignancy to the dating game."
Justine Mitchell's London theatre credits include playing the role of 'Bessie Burgess' in Howard Davies and Jeremy Herrin's revival of Sean O'Casey's play Plough and the Stars at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 2016. Sam Troughton's London stage credits include the role of 'Vince' in Matthew Warchus' revival of Sam Shepard's Buried Child at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 2004.
David Eldridge's West End plays include Under The Blue Sky, which was originally staged at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in 2000, and was revived at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2008 with a cast that included Chris O'Dowd, Catherine Tate, Dominic Rowan and Francesca Annis. Eldridge's credits also include the English Language stage adaptation of Thomas Vinterberg's Dogme film Festen, which was staged at the Almeida Theatre in 2004, before transferring to the Lyric Theatre with a cast that included Jane Asher, Sam Beazley, Rory Kinnear, Luke Mably and Stephen Moore. Polly Findlay's West End theatre credits include Derren Brown's Svengali at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2011 and at the Novello Theatre in 2012.
"Straight plays about relationships rarely make first date material - playwrights are a glass half-empty bunch as a rule and much more drawn to anatomising ugly fallouts than hopeful beginnings. But this very lovely two-hander dares to suggest a future might exist for its characters Laura and Danny, despite the conspicuous differences between them. Writer David Eldridge uses their meeting in the fag-end hours of a house-warming party to map out the messy, intimidating territory of 21st century dating with real heart and honesty. Eldridge's modish idea is that social media and the sexual revolution have complicated human intimacy rather than made it easier to achieve. Justine Mitchell's Laura, 38, is a career woman who owns her own flat but her lonely childlessness is as audible as a scream. Sam Troughton's Danny, who lives with his mum in Essex following a nasty break-up, uses blokey, blustery banter to hide his unhappiness. But the 42-year-old is visibly at sea in the face of Corbyn-supporting Laura's achievements and sexual confidence. Both actors, neither a star, are outstanding. They exquisitely chart the excruciating, elbow-knocking, tentative first steps of two lost and broken people who have all but given up on finding someone with whom to share their life. Played out in real time, their clumsy dance of drip-feed soul baring is absolutely gripping." The London Metro
"Loneliness, 'the 21st-century curse', is often regarded as s a problem for older, isolated people but, as David Eldridge shows, it also affects younger people with high-powered jobs and a network of friends. Laura, a 38-year-old agency director, throws a housewarming party to celebrate her move into the 'Pesto Triangle' of Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Highgate. When her other guests leave, she prevails on 42-year-old Danny to remain, with a clear - if unspoken - invitation to share her bed... Gradually it emerges that, as well as a desire for intimacy, she longs for a child and has chosen him as a potential father. Danny has his own reasons for declining her request, notably his deep anguish at being denied access to his daughter for whom he's just 'a monthly direct debit'. He fears once she has obtained what she wants Laura will exclude him from her and their child's life. Beginning is, by turns, funny, charming and poignant and, at all times, pertinent. It is written with the wit and emotional honesty... and is graced with two impeccable performances by Justine Mitchell and Sam Troughton under Polly Findlay's subtle direction." The Sunday Express
"Polly Findlay's perfectly paced production of David Eldridge's brave, beautiful, intimate two-hander begins in noisy disarray... The designer Fly Davis's stage is scattered with a party's detritus: streamers, mashed Pringles, prosecco. A ticking kitchen clock tells you we are pre-dawn. Like two startled animals in the dimmed lights, swaying tipsily, are Laura and Danny. He didn't return home with his mate from her housewarming. She has hopes; he 'has no radar'. What follows is a warm, funny, cringe-makingly well-observed exploration of how we live, or fail to live, now of empowerment, emasculation and botched expectations brilliantly realised by two fine actors. This is a small, if beautifully formed, thing, and, like Danny, I don't want to over-raise expectations. Yet I'm willing it to go all the way to the West End and beyond." The Sunday Times
Beginning in London at the Ambassadors Theatre previewed from 15 January 2018, opened on 23 January 2018 and closed on 24 March 2018