The National Theatre got a bit of flak for the lack of female playwrights in its 50th anniversary gala performance last weekend. With London Road’s Alecky Blythe the lone woman in the line-up of writers, it’s a fair cop. So it’s mighty refreshing to cast an eye over the Shed’s programme and realise that all four of the new plays to premiere in the whopping great red box outside the NT so far have been written by women.
Tanya Ronder’s family drama ‘Table’ opened the temporary studio theatre back in April and, since then, we’ve seen Nadia Fall’s devised verbatim piece ‘Home‘ and ‘The World of Extreme Happiness‘ by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig. (OK, there was also ‘The Hush‘ by Matthew Herbert and Ben Power, but that described itself as an experimental sound journey, so…)
This week, Debbie Tucker Green’s ‘nut’ (above) became the fourth in the series. A deft portrait of depression, directed by the writer herself, it’s Tucker Green’s National Theatre debut after a string of sharp, social critiques at the Royal Court and the Young Vic. Nut follows Elayne, a young black woman living in London, struggling with life and using self-harm as a form of release. It has an ‘understated power,’ according to our reviewer Rachel Halliburton, who says, ‘you will think of it for days afterwards.’
Last December, Nicholas Hytner predicted that, by 2020, equal numbers of male and female playwrights would be produced. Going on the evidence above, he may need to recalculate.
In the meantime, it’s yet another reason to celebrate the Shed, which has already picked up one major award this week, winning the Peter Brook Empty Space award for its adventurous and flexible programming. As if that wasn’t enough, it also donated – and doubled – the winnings to Talawa Theatre. And it’s going to be recycled when the season comes to an end.
Jeez, the Shed. Can’t you do anything a little bit improper? Next you’ll be trying to rid the world of financial inequality or something. Oh… you’re doing that too. Matt Trueman
‘nut’ is running until December 5 at The Shed. You can buy tickets here.