Court sets upcoming season

New works by Penhall, Agbaje on tap in London

Seven world premieres from writers including Bola Agbaje, Joe Penhall, David Eldridge and Nick Payne plus a new production of “Love, Love Love” by Mike Bartlett (“Cock”) make up the spring/summer slate at London’s Royal Court Theater.

London’s biggest hitter for new plays, the Court has had recent successes that include the SRO West End transfer of Bruce Norris’ “Clybourne Park” and the Gotham transfer of Jez Butterworth’s “Jerusalem,” currently back in the West End. It has also received eight noms for a further raft of productions in the Evening Standard Awards, to be handed out Nov. 20.

A.d. Dominic Cooke kicks off the new season in the theater’s 386-seat main house helming Eldridge’s “In Basildon.” An epic family drama set just outside London exploring inheritance and the myth of place, the play runs Feb. 16-March 24 with a Feb. 22 press night. The production is designed by Ian MacNeil (“Billy Elliott”); the cast includes Linda Bassett (“East Is East,” “Lark Rise to Candleford”).

Playwright Mike Bartlett, whose “13” is currently at the National Theater and whose previous Royal Court hit “Cock” will play Off Broadway next year, returns with “Love, Love, Love.” A co-production with Paines Plough in association with Drum Theater Plymouth, this new staging of a multigenerational tale of baby boomers preemed in 2010. Helmed by James Grieve, it runs April 27-June 2 with a May 3 opening.

Stage and screen helmer Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”) is back directing “Birthday” (June 22-Aug. 4 with a June 28 opening) by Penhall (“The Road”). The production represents a remarkably swift return for Penhall, whose “Haunted Child,” starring Ben Daniels and Sophie Okenedo, is currently in rehearsal at the Court with previews beginning Dec. 2.

The season in the smaller Theater Upstairs opens with “Constellations,” a play about free will, friendship and quantum multiverse theory by Payne, whose dark comedy “If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet” won the George Devine Award. Helmed by Michael Longhurst, it runs Jan. 13-Feb. 11 with a Jan. 19 opening.

The Royal Court Young Writers Festival for writers aged 25 and under — past alumni include Christopher Shinn and Simon Stephens — sees full productions of plays by two thesps-turned-scribes plus readings and performances of plays by writers as young as 8. “Goodbye to All That,” by actor Luke Norris, is about suddenly falling in love after 40 years of marriage. Helmed by Simon Godwin and designed by Tom Piper, it runs Feb. 23-March 17. “Vera Vera Vera,” by Hayley Squires, examines violent reactions in a small town to the return of the body of a dead soldier. Helmed by Jo McInnes, it runs March 22-April 14.

Helmer Indhu Rubasingham (“Ruined”) returns to the Court to direct “Belong” by former Royal Court Young Writer and Olivier Award winner Agbaje. A co-production with the Tiata Fahodzi company, the play examines a British MP who escapes a lost election by fleeing to Nigeria, only to encounter further problems (April 26-May 26).

The season ends with Vivienne Franzmann’s second play “The Witness,” a dark thriller of modern morals. Her debut “Mogadishu” won the Bruntwood Playwriting Competition and the 2010 George Devine Award. Helmed by Simon Godwin and designed by Lizzie Clachan, it runs June 1-30.

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