Merit

by Alexandra Wood

1 March – 26 March 2016

“A rapacious banker, corrupt, corrupting, you thought he would steal my soul.”

The London premiere

Spain, 2013. Against all odds, young graduate Sofia has got a job as PA to one of the wealthiest bankers in the country. Sofia’s mother questions whether she gave more than just a good interview to get it…

In these times of financial chaos, the bankers are getting filthy rich whilst others are left unable to support their families. A storm is brewing, people are desperate – just what will they be driven to? Suicide? Murder?

In a subtle game of cat and mouse, split loyalties and questionable morals, Alexandra Wood’s thrilling new play looks at the complexities of a mother daughter relationship and, in the growing argument between rich and poor, the girl who is stuck in between.

First seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth where it opened on 29 January 2015, Merit now receives its London premiere.

Playwright Alexandra Wood’s previous plays include The Human Ear (Paines Plough and UK tour), Man to Man (Wales Millennium Centre), Ages (Old Vic New Voices), The Initiate (Paines Plough – winner of a Scotsman Fringe First), The Empty Quarter (Hampstead Theatre), The Centre (Islington Community Theatre), an adaptation of Jung Chang’s Wild Swans (The Young Vic and American Repertory Theater), The Lion’s Mouth (Rough Cuts at the Royal Court Theatre), The Eleventh Capital (Royal Court Theatre) and the radio play Twelve Years (BBC Radio 4). She has written short plays for the Royal Court Theatre, the Oxford School of Drama, Rose Bruford College, Dry Write, Nabokov, Curious Directive and she contributed to Decade (Headlong). She is a past winner of the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright and was the Big Room Playwright-in-Residence at Paines Plough in 2013. She was formerly Literary Manager at the Finborough Theatre.

About Director Tom Littler

Director Tom Littler returns to the Finborough Theatre to direct Merit having achieved a record seven OffWestEnd Award nominations last year for his production of Martine by Jean-Jacques Bernard. Other productions at the Finborough Theatre include Jingo: A Farce of War by Charles Wood and a season of rediscoveries comprising The Boatswain's Mate by Ethel Smyth, The Mollusc by H.H. Davies and The Confidential Clerk by T.S. Eliot. Tom is Artistic Director of Primavera and Associate Director of Theatre503. Productions for Primavera include First Episode (Jermyn Street Theatre and Oxford), The Living Room, Bloody Poetry, Anyone Can Whistle (Jermyn Street Theatre), Saturday Night (Arts Theatre), Origin of the Species (Arcola Theatre), the premiere of Shiverman and European premiere of Madagascar (Theatre503), Antigone (Southwark Playhouse) and two seasons of Forgotten Classics staged readings (King’s Head Theatre). Recent directing includes Measure for Measure (Cambridge Arts Theatre), the premiere of Dances of Death (Gate Theatre), Good Grief (Theatre Royal Bath and Tour), The Glass Menagerie, Other Desert Cities, Strangers on a Train (English Theatre, Frankfurt), Absurd Person Singular (The Mill at Sonning), Dear Liar (Vienna’s English Theatre), The Wind in the Willows, As You Like It, Twelfth Night (Guildford Shakespeare Company), As You Like It (Creation Theatre), Tomfoolery (UK Tour), A Little Night Music (Menier Chocolate Factory and Central Theatre, Budapest), Murder in the Cathedral (Oxford Playhouse), The Twelve-Pound Look, Mr and Mrs Nobody and One for the Road (Frinton Summer Theatre). Tom was educated at Oxford University and is studying for a Masters with the Open University. As an Assistant Director, he has worked in the West End and regionally for directors including Laurence Boswell, Peter Gill, Peter Hall, Alan Strachan and Stephen Unwin. He was Associate Director of The Peter Hall Company for three years, and worked four times as Trevor Nunn’s Associate Director. Tom’s work has been nominated and shortlisted multiple times for OffWestEnd Awards and has received numerous Critics' Choice Awards.

The Press On Alexandra Wood's Merit

“Gripping… the moral questions raised…deliver a punch in the age of austerity” The Guardian

“An intense episodic 80 minutes of relationships laid bare” WhatsOnStage

“Sharp, sardonic wit” British Theatre Guide

“A thought-provoking examination of the true cost of decisions made by the men in suits” Western Morning News

The Press On Merit

“First seen at Theatre Royal Plymouth in January 2015, Alexandra Wood’s punchy two-hander about the effect of austerity in Spain has gained a whole new creative team for its London premiere but … has lost none of its relevance.” Chris Bennion, The Stage

“A mother/daughter duel that really goes the distance.” Giles Cole, WhatsOnStage

“Karen Ascoe as Patricia … a middle-class mum driven to violent desperation” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Ellie Turner … the daughter who mixes angst, ambition and appalled horror at her mother’s activism.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Littler teases two fascinating performances from his company” Ian Foster, There Ought To Be Clowns

“A fast paced two-hander...Like bull-fighters they circle ... ready for the commencing conflict.” Helena Payne, BritishTheatre.com

“Taut direction from Tom Littler ensures a lively pace throughout” Giles Cole, WhatsOnStage

“Well constructed and well written, powered through by two startling actresses ...” Bethany Dickinson, A Younger Theatre

“Merit is bound to keep you thinking long after the blackout.” Tom Cox, BroadwayWorld

The Press On Alexandra Wood's The Eleventh Capital

"An astonishing talent" Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

"This is a play in which every word counts...I long to see what Alexandra Wood will come up with next." Charles Spencer, The Telegraph

The Press On Director Tom Littler

“Tom Littler’s production of this intimate 1922 drama by Jean-Jacques Bernard is so erotically intense that it’s almost dizzying.” ★★★★★ Sam Marlowe, The Times on Martine

“Exquisite poignancy...Tom Littler and Primavera's production does rich justice to the play's still, sad music.” ★★★★★ Michael Billington, The Guardian on Martine

“How stimulating it is to see such directorial invention.” ★★★★★ Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard on Antigone

“A single false note would ruin everything, but Littler’s production has a miraculous assurance.” ★★★★★★ Jane Shilling, Daily Telegraph Critics' Choice on Dances of Death

“Tom Littler’s production is detailed and intelligent….” ★★★★★ Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard Critic’s Choice on The Living Room

“Tom Littler’s riveting production…” ★★★★★ Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage on The Living Room

“Tom Littler’s lucid production … is extraordinarily moving. Littler responds to the writing’s richness with a production of succulent density … A work of intricate imagination, immaculately delivered.” ★★★★★ Sam Marlowe, The Times on Origin of the Species

“Tom Littler’s fine, detailed production ensures you hang on every word.” ★★★★★ Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph on Madagascar

1 March – 26 March 2016

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm (from 12 March 2016)
7:30pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Performance Length: Approximately 80 minutes with no interval.