Previewed 15 March 2016, Opened 23 March 2016, Closed 18 June 2016 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London
Duncan Macmillan's new play People, Places and Things in London - transferring to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre for a strictly limited 12 week season following an acclaimed sold-out run at the National Theatre's Dorfman Theatre.
Emma was having the time of her life. Now she’s in rehab. Her first step is to admit that she has a problem. But the problem isn’t with Emma, it’s with everything else. She needs to tell the truth. But she’s smart enough to know that there’s no such thing. When intoxication feels like the only way to survive the modern world, how can she ever sober up?
PLEASE NOTE: Age recommendation 15 and above. This production contains some strong language, strobe-like lighting effects and short complete lighting blackouts in the auditorium.
The cast features Denise Gough as 'Emma' with Jacob James Beswick, Nari Blair-Mangat, Alastair Cope, Jacqui Dubois, Sally George, Kevin McMonagle, Nathaniel Martello-White, Barbara Marten and Laura Woodward. Directed by Jeremy Herrin with set by Bunny Christie, costumes by Christina Cunningham, lighting by James Farncombe and sound by Tom Gibbons.
Denise Gough's West End credits include Rupert Goold and Ben Power's revival of Luigi Pirandello's revival of Six Characters in Search of an Author at the Gielgud Theatre in 2008 and David Lan's revival of William Shakespeare's As You Like It starring Helen McCrory and Sienna Miller at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2005. Duncan Macmillan's West End writing credits include co-adapting for the stage, along with Robert Icke, George Orwell's 1984 which returns to London's Playhouse Theatre from June to September 2016, following seasons at the same theatre in 2014 and 2015. Jeremy Herrin's London credits include James Graham's new play This House which will be presented at the Garrick Theatre from November 2016 through to February 2017 following two sell-out seasons at the National Theatre in 2012 and 2013. He will also be directed a major revival of Sean O'Casey's Plough and the Stars at the National Theatre from July 2016.
When this production opened here at the Wyndham's Theatre in March 2016, Ann Treneman in The Times wrote: "Denise Gough was born to play this part and she is mesmerising, bringing a levity and lightness to it that we cling to as she fights rehab just as much as she fights everyone else in her life. Jeremy Herrin keeps it all moving at a brisk pace, so there is no wallowing... The last scene, as Emma finally talks to her parents, about her rehab, her brother's death, her feelings, is transfixing." Ian Shuttleworth in The Financial Times thought that "Denise Gough's electrifying portrayal will, if there is an atom of justice in this world, make her a star... Gough is magnificent." Chris Bennion in The Daily Telegraph highlighted that "Jeremy Herrin's skilful direction ensures that the pace is unnervingly, satisfyingly fast - until the deliberately sedate final scenes. Bunny Christie's clinical set and Tom Gibbons's often terrifying sound design add to the woozy sense of disorientation and alienation. The cast are uniformly excellent." Quentin Letts in The Daily Mail described it as being "a largely joyless evening about a middle-class drug addict who goes to a detox clinic. She is played by Denise Gough, whose strong central performance is a great deal more notable than the play... Miss Gough will go far." Neil Norman in The Daily Express praised Denise Gough who "gives a career-defining performance... she is in short amazing," adding that "director Jeremy Herrin's production is full of theatrical chicanery and effects... yet beneath the loud bangs, the sputtering lights, the strobes and Gough's incendiary performance, there lies a surprisingly conventional play." Fiona Mountford in The London Evening Standard explained that "Duncan Macmillan’s gruellingly honest look at the rehab process was a sell-out smash at the National last autumn and its hugely deserved West End transfer cleverly recreates the intimacy of the National’s smallest auditorium, the Dorfman... It’s a supremely confident and well-oiled production from director Jeremy Herrin, with a fluid acting ensemble. There is absolutely no doubt that Denise Gough is the person, Wyndham’s the place and this play the thing to see this spring."
When this production opened at the National Theatre's Dorfman Theatre in September 2015, Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard described how "this absorbing production... is above all a triumph for Denise Gough, who delivers an emotionally shattering performance that’s also exemplary in its rigour." Sarah Hemming in The Financial Times commented that "Denise Gough is superb as Emma, an actress addicted to drugs and alcohol... Jeremy Herrin's arresting staging takes Emma's perspective... there are problems to this approach - the hallucinatory passages are not unsettling enough and, more significantly, other characters are sketchily drawn... but flawed as it is, this is a bold, timely and searching play." Dominic Maxwell in The Times hailed "the career-making performance that Denise Gough gives here," in "Jeremy Herrin's well-paced co-production with his company Headlong" that "mixes wit, intellectual ambition and emotional intelligence." Paul Taylor in the Independent said praised "the play - superbly directed by Jeremy Herrin," along with the "magnificently unsparing performance by Denise Gough." Michael Billington in The Guardian highlighted that "Duncan Macmillan is not the first dramatist to tackle addiction. What gives his new play exceptional vibrancy, though, is its decision to draw parallels between rehab and theatrical process, and to present the action from the addict's point of view. It helps that his protagonist is an actor, superlatively played by Denise Gough." Patrick Marmion in The Daily Mail thought that "the play is nonetheless a tad too pleased with itself, encoding knowing references to the works of Ibsen and Chekhov. Nor was I convinced that in the end it managed to transcend the militant self-absorption of its hyper-articulate heroine. Jeremy Herrin’s production does, however, ignite the play’s undoubted theatricality." Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph said that "although Duncan Macmillan's absorbing new drama about the value (or otherwise) of drink and drugs rehabilitation... runs out of places to go... what keeps you hooked are two class-A performances. As Emma, Denise Gough beautifully conveys this complex, and at times unlikeable creature... Barbara Marten shines too in the triple role of her calm doctor, galvanising therapist and careworn, hostile mother."
"Duncan Macmillan meticulously charts Emma's stay in a rehabilitation clinic, under the care of a sympathetic doctor and among a group of patients, whose stories of how they fed their habits made me grateful that my only addiction is chocolate. Macmillan's writing is vibrant and witty... If, on occasion, the play veers uncomfortably close to a case study, Jeremy Herrin's brilliantly inventive production lifts it into something altogether more mysterious, whether using the scene changes on Bunny Christie's versatile set to reflect Emma's disorientation or introducing a half-dozen alter egos to express her fractured sense of self." The Sunday Express
"This is the week when a tremendous actor gets the recognition she deserves. It is not that Denise Gough has suddenly got better... It is prominence that makes the difference. Here she is, starring and never off the stage, at the National. People, Places & Things will change her career. Whoopee that Duncan Macmillan’s new play is strong. Double whoopee that Jeremy Herrin’s production spins rapidly through terror and rage. It slams down with that characteristic Headlong rush, banishing staid from the stage... The strengths are an electrically intelligent main character, switchback sympathies and unexpected plotting." The Observer
"This is a powerfully compelling and sternly realistic look at addiction, lies and delusions. That may sound too dry, and the woolly title doesn't exactly draw you in, either. In reality, it's a wonderfully well-crafted, often very funny play, with a superb central performance by Denise Gough... The final scene, when Emma returns home to her parents, is exquisitely painful and mercifully free of pat explanations: no, Emma was not abused as a child. Her upbringing was moderately unsatisfactory and therefore perfectly normal. Things aren't going to be any easier for her from now on, they're going to be just the same — things always are — but again the story strikes you as powerfully, even redemptively, truthful, not sugar-coated." The Sunday Times
"The play is ingeniously stuffed with references to plays about deluded, damaged heroines and to the artificial highs and lows of performance that all actors use to escape their own identity and find a new one – exactly like drink and drugs. But it is Denise Gough – in a mesmerising, agonising, raw and unflinching performance of a woman stripping herself of all excuses and delusions, as if peeling off her own skin – that makes this a must-see... Jeremy Herrin's imaginative co-production with Headlong powerfully suggests the trippy mental agony of withdrawal as tiles ping off the wall of Emma's clinical bedroom, and several crazed Emma clones scrabble out of the mattress, itching and vomiting. Wit sparks though the bleakness but it is Gough's portrayal of a woman, like Munch’s The Scream, that leaves an indelible impression." The Mail on Sunday
People, Places and Things in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 15 March 2016, opened on 23 March 2016 and closed on 18 June 2016.