Heads Up: No Quarter

Estate of the nation – Stenham goes back to the drawing-room

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The Independent Culture

What are we talking about? A new play about a young man, Robin, who heads back to his remote family home; apparently, it's an "anarchic twist on the drawing-room drama".

Elevator pitch No half measures: that playwright returns.

Prime movers It's news because No Quarter is written by Polly Stenham, a still painfully young playwright who burst on to the scene in 2007, aged 19, with the acclaimed That Face and followed it up with the also much-lauded Tusk Tusk. Jeremy Herrin, associate director at the Royal Court, is directing. Tom Scutt, the man responsible for the lovely design on Royal Court show-turned-West End hit Constellations, is in charge of design here, too.

The stars Playing Robin is Tom Sturridge, who starred in Wastwater at the Royal Court but has had more high-profile screen roles, most recently as Carlo Marx (Allen Ginsberg) in On the Road. It also stars Zoe Boyle (Downton Abbey), Patrick Kennedy (Boardwalk Empire; War Horse) and Maureen Beattie (Casualty).

The Early buzz The Evening Standard seemed pleased Boyle is involved: "The Downton Abbey stage invasion continues with Zoe Boyle — who played tragic heiress Lavinia Swire — starring in a new play .… No Quarter is a country house drama involving an inheritance and a feud over an estate." There's long been a buzz around Stenham, too, mind: in 2011, The Times included her in its "Young Power List", writing that "while the critical praise that heralded Stenham's debut play, That Face, was unanimous … her greatest achievement has been not to wilt under the subsequent surge of expectation".

Insider knowledge Stenham has explained it was initially going to be a "drum and bass musical" – but the powers that be at the theatre suggested she went away and re-write it (boo!), a process which took six months.

It's great that… Stenham and Herrin are obviously a smart creative team; he directed both her previous hit shows, too.

It's a shame that … while the upstairs space is brilliantly intimate, it does mean productions sell out in a flash. On-the-day tickets, anyone?

Hit potential Sales-wise, it's already done well; only time will tell if Stenham and Herrin have another critical hit on their hands.


The details No Quarter is at the Royal Court, London SW1 (royalcourttheatre.com), 11 Jan to 9 Feb.