Theatre; Curtain calls

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The Independent Culture
There's more to Richard Wilson (above) than meets the eye. "I don't b-e-l-i-e-v-e it," I hear you cry, but it's true: this estimable actor is also a sharp-eyed director. His latest assignment is Four, by 23-year- old American Christopher Shinn. I mention his age because his elegant play about personal liberation is part of Choice, an exhilarating festival of new plays by writers aged between 13 and 27. Previous Royal Court festivals have unearthed major works by Rebecca Prichard, Jonathan Harvey and Michael Wynne, all of whose careers rocketed within minutes of the curtain falling. As festival director Carl Miller explains, there is nothing parochial about this either, with new plays from as far afield as Uganda and Sri Lanka. Many of the hundreds submitted came via an advertisement printed on thousands of drinks coasters and beer mats distributed in pubs, clubs and youth groups. There are tales of sex and betrayal in the playground through to explorations of family catastrophe. Ten-minute sketches and full-blown dramas come from every conceivable background and Miller has matched them with equally gifted directors. There are two double bills each night, so if one doesn't appeal, there'll be another along shortly. Go on, check out the talent.

Royal Court Upstairs, London WC2 (0171-565 5000) from 27 Dec

David Benedict

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