Previwed 17 July 2014, Opened 24 July 2014, Closed 9 August 2014 at the Royal Court's Downstairs Theatre
Previewed 30 January 2015, Opened 23 February 2015, Closed 25 April 2015 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London
The Royal Court's acclaimed production of Jennifer Haley's new play The Nether in London presented as a co-production with Headlong Theatre.
An intricate crime drama and a haunting thriller set in the year 2050, The Nether follows an investigation into the complicated, disturbing morality of identity in the digital world, and explores the consequences of making dreams a reality when a new virtual wonderland provides total sensory immersion. Just log in, choose an identity and indulge your every desire. Please note recommended for 16 years and over. This is a transfer from London's Royal Court Theatre were this play was presented during July and August 2014.
When this production transferred to the West End's Duke of York's Theatre in February 2015, Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times praised the production saying: "Bravo to the producers for bringing this highly pertinent, scintillatingly staged and deeply disturbing piece of theatre to the West End. Jennifer Haley’s chilling thriller... Jeremy Herrin’s taut staging keeps you constantly nervous as to the direction the story is going to take... Compelling and disturbing, the play forces us to confront some of the most difficult moral issues presented by the cyberspace we have created." Dominic Maxwell in the Times thought that "75 minutes is not quite long enough to get the best from some sharp, uncomfortable ideas." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph described how "Jeremy Herrin's immaculate production... is not a flashy attempt to summarise a multitude of topical issues or generally bedazzle us with science, but a bid to open up a debate by asking one big, intractable question: what if 'the Nether' was utopian, not dystopian?" Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard wrote that the "American playwright Jennifer Haley has come up with a clinically efficient and unflinching 75 minutes of drama, awarded a much-merited transfer after a sell-out season at the Royal Court last summer," adding that director "Jeremy Herrin oversees a starkly compelling production that benefits immeasurably from Es Devlin’s design."
When this production opened at the Royal Court Theatre in July 2014 Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph hailed it as being "thought–provoking, deeply disconcerting... in Jeremy Herrin's creepily gripping production... This is a haunting and highly original modern fairy tale that combines creepy enchantment with a whiff of sulphur." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times described it as being "the very best kind of uncomfortable viewing" while Kate Bassett in the Times commented that "what makes Jennifer Haley's chamber piece doubly gripping is the ways that she uses the genre of detective drama to generate a seriously intelligent, neo-Shavian play of ideas — a knotty, important and thought-provoking disputation about virtual reality and moral policing," adding that "structured quite brilliantly as well... the director Jeremy Herrin's taut staging is superbly cast and stunningly designed by Es Devlin and Luke Halls." Michael Billington in the Guardian thought that "behind the play lies an important debate about the extent to which we can, or even should, censor and control online fantasies. I would take Jennifer Haley's arguments more seriously, however, if she did not seek to shock us with the threat of present danger." Paul Taylor in the Independent praised "Jeremy Herrin's brilliant production of Jennifer Haley's deeply disturbing and very responsibly provocative play... authentically challenging piece." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard wrote that "the chief pleasure of this co-production between the Royal Court and Headlong is Es Devlin’s dazzling design. It captures the Instagrammy slickness of a society hooked on voyeurism... the play itself is unsettling rather than truly chilling."
The cast features Amanda Hale, Stanley Townsend, Ivanno Jeremiah, Zoe Brough and Isabella Pappas, who all reprise their roles from the Royal Court Theatre. Directed by Jeremy Herrin with set designs by Es Devlin, costumes by Christina Cunningham, lighting by Nick Powell, sound by Ian Dickinson and video design by Luke Halls. Jeremy Herrin recent West End thetre directing credits include Mike Poulton's acclaimed stage adaptation of Hilary Mantel's prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (Aldwych Theatre 2014), Julian Mitchell's play Another Country (Trafalgar Studio 2014) and Ariel Dorfman's play Death and the Maiden (Harold Pinter Theatre 2011).
"Jennifer Haley's expertly crafted script... Jeremy Herrin's hauntingly effective production... This is a compelling, profoundly disturbing 80 minutes of theatre, hammered home by some of the best visuals I've ever seen on stage, superbly conceived by set designer Es Devlin and video designer Luke Halls. At the play's end, the world – both real and virtual – simply doesn't look quite the same." The Observer
"In the spectrum of responses aroused by Jennifer Haley's dystopian thriller, delight at its ingeniousness is matched by consternation at the moral conundrum it sucks you into. The play is a squirminducing extrapolation of the anxieties of our internet and surveillance society... Jeremy Herrin's production makes use of a deceptively pristine and enchanting set for this drama about undercover identities, the grimy corners of imagination, and whether it is possible or desirable to police them." The Sunday Times
"Jennifer Haley's shocker takes you inside 'the nether', a future internet, a virtual wonderland allowing total sensory immersion. You log in, assume an identity and indulge your heart’s desire, however sordid... Haley’s approach is too black and white, her own stance too clear, but she raises vital and scary issues, horribly vividly." The Mail on Sunday
The Nether in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 30 January 2015, opened on 23 February 2015 and closed on 25 April 2015.