Exciting news without actually telling you any of the exciting news

Squabbling House have chosen our next play! Ring the bells! Sound the trumpet! The sky is falling! And yet, alas, I can’t tell you what it is. I’m not allowed. For clever and sneaky marketing reasons we’re not telling you yet. Instead, here’s something just as good: a look at our shortlist, a group wonderful plays that were pipped to the post by our mystery winner.

Where else to start but Sam Steiner’s Kanye the First, in which a woman turns into Kanye West after he dies. It’s funny, gripping and as weird as it sounds. You won’t look at Kanye the same way again. Steiner’s acclaimed breakout play, Lemons, lemons, lemons, lemons, lemons, also got a look in. It’s moving and fresh and absolutely worth the hype. A very Constellations-y feel about it. Maybe one day.

An honourable mention goes to Alan Harris’ How My Light Is Spent, winner of the 2017 Bruntwood Prize. A man who slowly, literally disappears onstage forms a relationship with a woman via a phone sex line. It’s bold and clever and totally, completely, desperately sad. I was embarrassingly moved while reading it. Katherine Soper’s Wish List, another winner of the Bruntwood Prize, is also mind-bogglingly brilliant. Wish List is Soper’s only major published play, something that needs to change soon. It’s the sort of play that made me not listen to reason when talking about it. EVERY DECISION TAKEN IN WRITING IT WAS THE RIGHT ONE AND I WILL HEAR NO MORE ABOUT IT THANK YOU.

Enda Walsh’s Arlington, a claustrophobic, ambiguous, dystopic, nightmare of a play, made up another spot on the shortlist. It’s haunting and hopeful and, like a lot of Walsh’s stuff, leaves you kind of unsure what’s just happened to you. Incidentally, and this has no relevance here at all really, his new show, Grief is a Thing With Feathers, is the best production I can remember seeing. He can do no wrong.

Plenty of others caught our eye. Elinor Cook’s Out of Love, Paul Murphy’s Valhalla and Anya Reiss’ Acid Test made up the rest of the shortlist and are, in very different ways, all dynamic and brilliant plays. I’m sorry I can’t tell you which one we’ve gone for in the end, but I am constrained by the aforementioned clever and sneaky marketing. Do keep an eye out for the big reveal. Trust me. It’s a humdinger.


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