On the frontline in the battle of the sexes

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm's first West End play, 'Belongings', will confirm her as an exciting new talent, says Alice Jones

A naked man, with a generous paunch, jogs on to the tiny stage and starts rooting around in the kitchen cupboards for a cigarette. In yer face? Yes, uncomfortably so – and that's just the first few minutes of Belongings.

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm's debut play is an explosive tale of a young female soldier, Deb, who returns from Afghanistan to find her father (the naked one) shacked up with one of her friends and running a porn empire from the spare room. Pitting two men and two women against each other on a split stage – half Helmand bunker, half West Country kitchen – it's an angry journey into two macho worlds, both bristling with sex and violence.

The 31-year-old playwright spoke to female soldiers and hung out on Army chat forums to research the comic, tense and often shocking scenes set in the billet Deb shares with her male counterpart. The father's storyline grew out of a short play she wrote about a housewife who discovers that her husband has been filming their sex life and putting it online, behind her back. "I was thinking about all the different roles we play as women. On the one hand we're told we should be strong – to go out there and get what we want. And on the other, we're still trying to be mothers. And then we're trying to be sexy. There are so many mixed messages about what is sexy and what is strong, I wasn't really sure what women were supposed to be doing."

Bold and brutal, with shades of DC Moore and Simon Stephens (indeed the Punk Rock writer advised on the script), the play premiered last month in Hampstead Theatre's excellent Downstairs season where writers test out new work in the basement studio, away from the critical glare. This week, it will be the first to transfer to the West End, opening at Trafalgar Studios and making Lloyd Malcolm officially one to watch. In fact, a protégée of Kevin Spacey, she's been writing for years – most recently collaborating on Platform at the Old Vic Tunnels and the last two pantomimes at the Lyric Hammersmith – but tomorrow night will be the first time she sees her name in lights.

It was always destined to happen. Her mother, Judy Lloyd, played Ophelia to Frances de la Tour's female Hamlet while pregnant with her; her father, Christopher Malcolm, is a one-time RSC actor, who who starred in the original Rocky Horror Picture Show and now produces musicals. She wrote her first piece while studying Theatre at Goldsmith's, "a navel-gazing comedy about slobby students", which she took up to the Edinburgh Fringe "on a whim". That whim became a career as she formed a comedy trio, Trippplicate, with the actress Katie Lyons and director Verity Woolnough, performing "bonkers, slapstick stuff" and helped create E4's School of Comedy – an adult sketch show performed by children.

Increasingly stricken with stage fright, her playwriting career took off in 2005 when she was chosen to take part in the Old Vic's 24 Hour Plays. She produced a quickfire response to the 7/7 bombings –"But it was quite funny, it ended on a song" – which led to a fruitful relationship with the theatre's artistic director, Kevin Spacey. He has since commissioned Lloyd Malcolm to write his speeches and even a skit for the launch of a luxury Swiss watch in which he starred alongside Elliot Cowan as Leonardo da Vinci and Thandie Newton as Mona Lisa. "It was the most surreal moment of my life," says Lloyd Malcolm. "Kevin's been great – he's thrown work my way. You do end up in very odd situations. If I'm going to survive as a writer I need these extra strings to my bow. I've written every kind of thing you could possibly write and the one thing I want to write is theatre. But it doesn't pay very much."

Nevertheless, she's now writing her next play, Epidemic for the Old Vic Tunnels, and is working on a one-on-one promenade show, You Once Said Yes, where audiences choose how their story unfolds, which will preview at Latitude before going up to the Fringe.

She's also just finished a two-part television drama, Protective Headgear, inspired by a hit-and-run motorbike accident her father was involved in when she was seven years old. "Whoever did it, removed his helmet to check he was breathing, phoned an ambulance and left. They took his helmet, too. I've always wondered who that was and whether living with what they did has hurt them more than just owning up to it."

'Belongings', Trafalgar Studios, London SW1, to 9 July (0870 060 6632; www.trafalgar-studios.co.uk)

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas