Home Death

by Nell Dunn

Sundays and Mondays, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25 July 2011

"I didn't know. I didn't know what dying looks like. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to help him."

as part of the annual Vibrant – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights 2011


Vibrant – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights 2011 is our annual festival of Finborough Playwrights, running from 5-30 July 2011. In addition to Home Death the festival features a month long run of Nick Gill’s Mirror Teeth (originally seen as a staged reading in the very first Vibrant in 2009) together with a late night season of ten staged readings of ten new works for the stage by ten UK and international playwrights, discovered, developed or championed by the Finborough Theatre.

Home Death, a new play by Olivier Award winner Nell Dunn, will play for six performances only on Sunday and Monday evenings at the multi-award-winning Finborough Theatre.

In our materialist culture obsessed with youth, death has become the ultimate taboo. Inspired by real life stories, Home Death is an unflinching yet ultimately uplifting dissection of how our society deals with the reality of dying.

64% of us want to die at home, but in reality less than a quarter of us do. A lingering death in a hospital ward is one of the biggest fears of the elderly, and yet research from the Cicely Saunders Institute predicts that by 2030, if current trends continue, only one in ten of us will die at home.

Home Death is a courageous and profoundly compassionate new play that raises essential and urgent questions about palliative care in the UK, and celebrates the strength of friendship and love.

Home Death is supported by end of life care charity, Marie Curie Cancer Care, and the National Council for Palliative Care.

About The Playwright Nell Dunn

Playwright Nell Dunn is best known for the 1963 publication of Up the Junction, a series of short stories set in South London. The book became a controversial success because of its vibrant, realistic and nonjudgmental portrait of the working classes. It was filmed for television and film and was awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. In 1967, she published her first novel Poor Cow which was made into a film starring Carol White and Terence Stamp, directed by Ken Loach. Her more recent adult books are Grandmothers (1991) and My Silver Shoes (1996). Dunn's acclaimed play Steaming was produced in 1981, won the Society of West End Theatre Award, now known as the Olivier Award, for Best Comedy, and was subsequently filmed by Joseph Losey with Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, and Diana Dors. Her first television film Every Breath You Take was shown in 1987. She has also written Sisters, a film script commissioned by the BBC. She won the 1982 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her 2003 play Cancer Tales has toured internationally and been greatly supported the medical profession.

About The Director Fiona Morrell

Director Fiona Morrell has recently completed eighteen months as a Staff Director at the National Theatre. Productions included Nation, adapted from Terry Pratchett's novel by Mark Ravenhill, The White Guard by Bulgakov, adapted by Andrew Upton, Moira Buffini's Welcome to Thebes and Bryony Lavery's Six Seeds. She has directed The Water's Edge by Theresa Rebeck (Arcola Theatre), Acquaintances and National Amnesty by Dominic Mitchell (Pleasance London) and The Alice Project (Camden People's Theatre, BAC and the Lakeside Colchester). Fiona has also directed short plays/readings at RADA, Arcola Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Oval House, Theatre 503 and the National Theatre Studio. She has assisted at Arcola Theatre, Almeida Theatre and Second Stage New York. She is a Creative Associate of Strawberry Vale Productions.

The Press on Nell Dunn's Cancer Tales

“These are moving, authentic voices, speaking from real experience and real emotion. Nell Dunn has an unparalleled ear for the speaking voice of emotion, across the social classes. She treats an important and painful subject with insight, dignity and bravery. She is never sentimental, never alarmist, always true." Margaret Drabble

“[Nell Dunn] is fascinated by human fragility — and knows exactly how easy it would be to strike the wrong note. But there is no chance of that: she has perfect pitch and has pieced together a drama of heart and ear — this is editing as art. ... The most remarkable thing of all about these pieces is that they never seem mawkish or sensational — they are about communication and truth and learning to read between the lines.” Kate Kellaway,The Observer

The Press on Director Fiona Morrell

“The savage passions at the drama's heart retain their compulsion, and Fiona Morrell's production is skilfully acted and staged” The Times on The Water’s Edge

“What works, brilliantly so, is the atmospheric production directed by Fiona Morrell. On a beautifully lit lakeside house - the audience walks through trees to get to their seats - Morrell and designer Charlie Damigos conjure up a mysterious world where reality could, just possibly, merge with myth”. The Stage on The Water’s Edge

The Press on Home Death

“An important issue well presented...an intimate piece which belongs at the Finborough and deserves to be heard.” Blanche Marvin, London Theatre Reviews

“What is a "good" death? How do most of us want to die? These are not questions that we often stop to ask, particularly in the theatre, where deaths tend to be either heroic or sordid.” Judith Flanders, The Arts Desk 

“The evening (short, at 90 minutes with no interval) is intense and moving, with fine performances from all” Judith Flanders, The Arts Desk

“This play has the feel of protest theatre, serving the audience both confession and confrontation.” Toni Stott-Rates, The Public Reviews

“This beautiful, moving, unflinchingly honest 90-minute piece...I wish I could tell you that the real-life stories portrayed in Nell Dunn’s play Home Death are over-dramatised.  But they aren’t.” Pippa Wilcox, The Good Funeral Guide 

“It is not wall-to-wall bleakness.  Although it is not so much the more positive stories that you leave the theatre dwelling on, there are some good deaths here as well as some air and light breathed into this piece.  The George and Diana Melly pairing and the trio of Mick, Lisa and Mary in particular provide some welcome laughter.” Pippa Wilcox, The Good Funeral Guide 

“Home Death is compassionate and thought-provoking; the issue is never milked or over-dramatised, but no punches are pulled either. Nell Dunn wrote this play because she was ‘outraged by the lack of care given to [her] partner when he died at home’. If she wanted to make a case for a better funded, better equipped NHS, she’s certainly made it. David Cameron should come and see this play.” Emma Berge, British Theatre Guide

“Nell Dunn, now in her 70′s and renowned for giving a voice to ‘ordinary’ people in her work has assembled this play from her and her lover’s own experience and the experiences of others who had cared for a dying loved one at home. These true stories are told with commitment and integrity by the 11 strong acting ensemble.  There isn’t a weak link amongst them.  The production and performances are pared down, stripped back and utterly convincing.” Pippa Wilcox, The Good Funeral Guide

“Home Death, unsurprisingly for the author of Up the Junction and Poor Cow, is beautifully written, with a subtle, underplayed perception.” Judith Flanders, The Arts Desk 

“These stories are all true and told with frank and emotional honesty. All are well acted, in particular Linda Broughton as Nell and Richard Keightley as James stand out for their matter-of-fact and touching delivery.” Emma Berge, British Theatre Guide

“The acting has a lovely simplicity to it, and there is very little in the way of seeing the director’s hand, as Fiona Morrell seems to have just let the stories take us where they will.” Toni Stott-Rates, The Public Reviews

“This is one of those venues that makes me feel proud to be a Londoner.  The shamelessly intimate space, the courageous programming choices, the exceptional performing talent which it attracts, the hip and truly sweet theatre and bar staff, the very respectable loos, the (new) air-conditioning, the Firezza pizza which you can have waiting for you when the show’s over and the brilliant array of wines you can order by the glass… what’s not to like?” Pippa Wilcox, The Good Funeral Guide

Sundays and Mondays, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25 July 2011

Tickets and Times

Monday 7:30pm
Sunday 7:30pm

Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes including one interval