by Luke Owen

29 October – 23 November 2013

“I’ve seen a lot of people sit in that chair while I’ve sat in this one. This job needs to be done. And you can’t survive in it if you care. If you care, it will kill you.”

The world premiere

★★★★ Four Stars, The Guardian
★★★★ Four Stars, WhatsOnStage
★★★★ Four Stars, Exeunt
★★★★ Four Stars, One Stop Arts


The winner of the fifth Papatango New Writing Prize in partnership with the Finborough Theatre….

Tom spends all his days surfing the net…

Because Tom works in child protection.

Faced with watching recordings of the most unforgivable crimes on a daily basis, in a job that barely anyone else can endure, Tom struggles to retain his humanity. Meeting Emily might just mean his life has changed for the better, but when your entire working life is spent watching the most terrible of crimes, can you ever go home and say “I love you”?

It is estimated that there are 50,000 – 60,000 regular viewers of child pornography in the UK alone. With reports of footage of abuse rising by 42% in the last six months, Unscorched examines the impact on those analysts confronting such footage every day.

Tackling an important and taboo subject with sensitivity, humour and courage, and chosen from more than 500 entries to win this year’s Papatango New Writing Prize, Luke Owen’s first play reveals a dramatist of exceptional promise.

About The Playwright Luke Owen

Playwright Luke Owen, 30, grew up in Woking and now lives in Norwich, where he works as an actor and copywriter. He is a graduate of the University of East Anglia, where he took a BA in English and Drama before graduating from the acclaimed MA course in Creative Writing. He was a member of the Royal Court Theatre Young Writers’ Programme.

About The Director Justin Audibert

Director Justin Audibert was the recipient of the 2012 Leverhulme Award for Emerging Directors and was Resident Director at the Finborough Theatre and the National Theatre Studio. He is Artistic Associate of HighTide Festival Theatre, Associate Director for Red Ladder and Associate of Told By An Idiot. Recent directing includes A Season in the Congo: Parallel Project (Clare, Young Vic), Wrong ‘Un (Red Ladder), Gruesome Playground Injuries (Gate Theatre), The Tempest (Royal Shakespeare Company – Shakespeare in a Suitcase), Future Regrets (Royal Shakespeare Company at the Live Theatre, Newcastle), Mojo (Royal Shakespeare Company at the Hampstead Downstairs), Front (RADA Festival) and Company Along The Mile (West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Lowry, Manchester, and Arcola Theatre). As an Assistant Director he has worked with Greg Doran, Paul Hunter, Lucy Bailey, David Farr, Rachel Kavanaugh and Sarah Esdaile. In 2012, he was the Acting Coach for the finalists of BBC 2’s Shakespeare Off By Heart. Justin trained on the Birkbeck MFA in Theatre Directing.

About Papatango

Papatango was founded by co-Artistic Directors Matt Roberts, George Turvey and Sam Donovan in 2007, who were joined by producer Chris Foxon in 2012. The company's mission is to find the best and brightest new talent in the UK with an absolute commitment to bringing their work to the stage. Since then, Papatango have produced sixteen pieces of new writing in venues including the Tristan Bates Theatre, the Old Red Lion Theatre and the Pleasance London. 2009 saw the launch of their first Papatango New Writing Prize. Since 2011, the Papatango New Writing Prize has been in partnership with the Finborough Theatre. www.papatango.co.uk

The Press on the Winner of the 2012 Papatango New Writing Prize

PACK by Louise Monaghan


“Knocks spots off much of the new writing I have seen this year.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“This fantastic production will hopefully ensure Monaghan a future life on the London stage.” WhatsOnStage

The Press on the Winner of the 2011 Papatango New Writing Prize

FOXFINDER by Dawn King

Foxfinder also won playwright Dawn King the OffWestEnd Award for Most Promising Playwright and a prestigious Pearson Award bursary through the Finborough Theatre, and won the Critics' Circle Most Promising Newcomer Award for director Blanche McIntyre. It has subsequently been produced in the USA, Sweden and Australia.

Critics' Choice TIME OUT
Critics' Choice GUARDIAN

One of The Independent's Top Five Plays of 2011

Nominated for the OffWestEnd Award for 2011 for Best New Play and Best Male Performance

" Dawn King's play shines out like a beacon...The most compelling new work I have seen this year.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“A bold and often brilliant stab at something new.” Dominic Maxwell, The Times

“Rich, rare and deeply unsettling...a thrillingly original piece of writing.” Sam Marlowe, Time Out

The Press on Director Justin Audibert

“Justin Audibert’s clinical yet tender production…the play’s distinctive tone combines with stellar performances to make it unexpectedly and crazily watchable.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian on Gruesome Playground Injuries

“A fascinating examination of neediness and despair. Both Joseph and Audibert are names to watch.” The Stage on Gruesome Playground Injuries

“Justin Audibert’s eloquent production proves compulsive.” TNT Magazine on Gruesome Playground Injuries

“Audibert’s confident, winsome staging…a delight.” Time Out on Gruesome Playground Injuries

“Justin Audibert’s production is stylish and forensic…beautifully done.” The Times on Gruesome Playground Injuries

“Shines with warmth, humour and something touchingly traditional.” Time Out Critics’ Choice on Company Along The Mile

“This one-hander directed by Justin Audibert makes social history relevant…brilliant…galvanising.” The Morning Star on Wrong ‘Un

Post Show Q&A

Wednesday 6 November

Free to ticketholders of that evening’s show.

Meet the cast and creative team of Unscorched, the winner of the 2013 Papatango New Writing Prize in partnership with the Finborough Theatre.

The panel will include George Turvey, Artistic Director of the multi-award-winning Papatango Theatre Company, Justin Audibert, director of Unscorched and former Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio, and Luke Owen, writer of Unscorched.

The panel will discuss topics including that evening’s performance, the Papatango New Writing Prize and other opportunities, and programming and developing new work, as a springboard to answer questions from the audience.

The Press on Unscorched

★★★★ Four Stars, The Guardian
★★★★ Four Stars, WhatsOnStage
★★★★ Four Stars, Exeunt
★★★★ Four Stars, One Stop Arts

“Unscorched, the debut play by Luke Owen, is the winner of this year’s Papatango New Writing Prize, an award that’s previously gone to such critically well-received works as Dawn King’s Foxfinder (2011) and Louise Monaghan’s Pack (2012). Apparently selected unanimously by the judges from more than 500 entries, Owen’s text is a tight piece that gets into provocative, timely territory...A compelling piece and one that marks Owen out as a playwright of promise.” Alex Ramon, The Public Reviews

“A blessedly unsensational play on a deeply serious subject.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Luke Owen's first play has set a precedent for great things to come.” Justine Malone, One Stop Arts

“Luke Owen beat more than 500 other entrants to win the Papatango New Writing Prize with this impressive debut...There is plenty in Unscorched to suggest that Owen is a writer of huge promise.” Dominic Maxwell, The Times

“Luke Owen’s debut is a cracker.” Patrick Marmion, Time Out

“As the winner of the prestigious Papatango New Writing Prize, Luke Owen gets his first play, Unscorched, staged at the Finborough Theatre. Packing in the critics last night, the scene is set to judge the script, and it’s easy to see why it won.” Edward Lukes, The London Magazine

“Luke Owen's first play (winner of the 2013 Papatango New Writing Prize) is remarkable in its ability to shed light on a subject most people prefer not to think about...A sensitive and thought-provoking portrayal of a difficult subject and the unsung people who devote their lives to investigating the unforgivable. An amazing debut to a writing career.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“A sensitively imagined piece.” Henry Hitchings, London Evening Standard

“An intelligent piece about the psychological ramifications of being exposed to disturbing imagery on an everyday basis.” Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“The play strikes a strong balance between humour and a more complex examination of the process of desensitisation. Owen has a great ear for awkward exchanges and treats the material with a pleasingly light touch.” Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“Will keep you thinking for days afterwards...” Kate Hudspeth, Bargain Theatreland

“Savvy, sharp and beguiling.” Dominic Maxwell, The Times

“It's rare to come out of a theatre feeling as though you want to burst into tears. Not just a "something in the eye" emotional response, but a full-on sobbing for the quiet analysts investigating the most hideous crimes against children, and for those children, many of whom may never be found.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“The virtue of Owen's play is that it unsettles us without in-yer-face shock tactics.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“It is the winner of this year's Papatango New Writing Prize and will shock viewers, making them think about a difficult subject afresh. It might also manage to influence public policy and if that is the legacy of any play, it can be regarded as a major contribution to both theatre and society.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“Luke Owen won the Papatango New Writing Prize with this play and deservedly so.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“The Papatango New Writing Prize is now in its fifth year and continues its excellent working relationship with the Finborough Theatre in offering a month's full run to the winning play. And following on from such interesting works as Dawn King's Foxfinder and Louise Monaghan's Pack, Luke Owen's Unscorched feels a worthy winner, an intriguing debut play which navigates its intensely serious subject matter with a supremely deft touch.” Ian Fisher, There Ought To Be Clowns

“Directed with quietly clinical efficiency by Justin Audibert, ingeniously designed by Georgia Lowe and impressively acted by John Hodgkinson as the seemingly well-adjusted Nidge, Ronan Raftery as the barely-able-to-cope Tom and by Eleanor Wyld as Emily.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Justin Audibert’s precise production boasts a strong cast. Eleanor Wyld is terrific as Emily, who has work worries of her own, while Ronan Raftery is exceptional as our hero; you forget that he is acting, even as Tom crumbles.” Dominic Maxwell, The Times

“Ronan Raftery is excellent.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“Just as impressive are the performances from two players: Ronan Raftery, who takes the lead role, and his love interest, played by Eleanor Wyld.” Edward Lukes, The London Magazine

“The absolute stand out is Ronan Raftery, as newcomer Tom.” Kate Hudspeth, Bargain Theatreland

“John Hodgkinson is very good as experienced, battle-hardened Nidge.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“Unscorched is marked by stellar performances, such as John Hodgkinson’s upbeat Nidge.” Lisa Carroll, A Younger Theatre

“Justin Audibert's production is blessed with some stellar performances.” Ian Fisher, There Ought To Be Clowns

“Ronan Raftery is excellent as the increasingly disturbed Tom; John Hodgkinson superb as his senior colleague Nidge who loves nothing more than a celebratory Wagon Wheel but whose cheery bonhomie scarcely hides the corrosive long-term effects of the job; and Eleanor Wyld as the girlish Emily brings a lovely quirky warmth to their speed-dating and later scenes of abortive courtship.” Ian Fisher, There Ought To Be Clowns

“Deftly directed by Justin Audibert.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“Justin Audibert’s admirably crafted production.” Patrick Marmion, Time Out

“Justin Audibert directs the play with clinical detachment and sensitivity.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Georgia Lowe's set design is ingenious.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“Georgia Lowe’s ingenious traverse set design.” Patrick Marmion, Time Out

“Georgia Lowe's traverse set, which has tardis-like qualities constantly revealing exciting hidden secrets.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“A brilliant set from Georgia Lowe, a masterclass in fringe design in its flexibility and adaptability and enhanced by Joshua Carr's lighting, it quietly blisters its short way across our minds.” Ian Fisher, There Ought To Be Clowns

“The Finborough Theatre is known for showcasing new playwrights, and staging plays some people may think step over the mark a little.  Unscorched shows exactly why they take these bold steps, and confirms their status as one of the best independent off West End theatres in London.” Kate Hudspeth, Bargain Theatreland

29 October – 23 November 2013

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm (from 9 November 2013)
Sunday 3:00pm

Approximately 90 minutes with NO interval