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Previewed 1 May 2008, Opened 9 May 2008, Closed 5 July 2008 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London
Polly Stenham's multi award-winning debut play That Face in London for a limited ten week season featuring Lindsay Duncan and Matt Smith with Julian Wadham.
Mia is at boarding school. She has access to drugs. They are Martha's. Henry is preparing for art college. He has access to alcohol. From Martha. Martha controls their lives. Martha is their mother. That Face is a hard-hitting, intense and visceral dissection of parent-child relationships. In a family rent by dysfunction, Mia and Henry find themselves in the unenviable position of having to protect their own mother from herself. This is Polly Stenham's debut play which she wrote when she was 19 and it transfers to London's West End following a critically acclaimed sell-out season at The Royal Court Theatre Upstairs from April to May 2007.
The cast for That Face in London features Lindsay Duncan, Matt Smith, Catherine Steadman and Julian Wadham who are all reprising their roles from the original run at the Royal Court Theatre and they are joined for the West End run by Hannah Murray. The production is directed by Jeremy Herrin.
Polly Stenham's That Face was developed for the stage through the Royal Court Theatre's Young Writers Programme. It was for her play That Face that Polly Stenham went on to win both the Evening Standard Theatre Award and Critics' Circle Award for 'Most Promising Playwright', as well as the TMA Award for 'Best Play'. Polly Stenham has also received a substantial grant from the UK Film Council to adapt her play for the big screen.
"Dominic Cooke, the Royal Court's new artistic director, promised middle-class plays that would speak to the theatre's captive audience, and Polly Stenham's That Face couldn't fulfil his brief more accurately... Polly Stenham is an economical writer blessed with an ear for dialogue. She is also blessed with a strong cast of fledgling and experienced actors. Lindsay Duncan puts in a performance to savour, at once nightmarish and tender... Stenham, though, is the star of the show, offering up a script that is moving, realistic and shot through with a macabre, knowing humour." The Sunday Telegraph
"There's a lot that's pretty startling about Polly Stenham's assured debut play That Face, not least that it is the work of a 19-year-old. It is also the fact that it concerns girls tripping up and down Chelsea's Kings Road in ballet pumps, screaming 'love you' into their phones. But even more shocking is their behaviour - a brutal initiation ceremony on a younger girl at their posh boarding school results in her being hospitalised - and that of the adults: a vampire-like mother gives her son a lovebite to match the one his girlfriend gave him. Stenham certainly hits a nerve but she can also rap a funny bone... Stenham paints a portrait of a desperately dysfunctional upper middle-class family. Lindsay Duncan is terrifyingly believable as the alcoholic mother clinging like a deranged lover to her son (Matthew Smith), who has dropped out of school to try to look after her. When the daughter she shamefully neglects (a pitiably poised and pinched Felicity Jones) is suspended from school, the father (played by Julian Wadham, spot-on), who has detached himself and is making a new life and new babies in Hong Kong, returns to see what and who can be salvaged. Jeremy Herrin's excellent production insists that attention is paid to an eloquent new voice." The Mail on Sunday
That Face in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 1 May 2008, opened on 9 May 2008 and closed on 5 July 2008.