June to August 2011 | 15 Premieres 1 Rediscovery


by Nell Dunn

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

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.

" 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"

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.


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.


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.


Judith Amsenga’s credits include Mixed up North (National Tour), Communication Breakdown (Theatre 503) and Cycle (Soho Theatre).

Linda Broughton’s many credits include The December Man/L’homme de decembre (Finborough Theatre), A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Nottingham Playhouse), 2nd May 1997, I Like Mine with a Kiss (Bush Theatre), Ivanov, The Chalk Garden (Donmar Warehouse) and The Crucible, Absence of War, Racing Demon (Birmingham Rep).

Marcus Cunningham’s credits include Hamlet, The White Guard, Burnt by the Sun, The Life of Galileo, Jerry Springer – The Opera (all National Theatre), Mamma Mia! (International Tour) and Martin Guerre (Prince Edward Theatre). Television credits include Doc Martin, Doctor Who, The Fugitives.

Amelia Donkor’s credits include Six Seeds (National Theatre), Arabian Nights (New Vic Theatre), Shangri-la (Lime Pictures at the Roundhouse) and Rage Fantasies (Theatre 503). Television credits include Doctors, The Bill, Trial and Retribution and Holby City.

Laura Fitzpatrick’s credits include Cancer Tales (International tour), February (Hampstead Theatre), The Importance of Being Earnest (National tour), Return of the Native (Theatre Royal, Bath).

Sara Griffiths’ credits include The Gambler, Future Me (Theatre 503), An Inspector Calls, Machinal, Arcadia, Inadmissible Evidence (all National Theatre) and Coriolanus (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Numerous television credits include Casualty, Emmerdale, EastEnders and Doctors.

Richard Keightley’s credits include Twelfth Night (National Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Rose Theatre, Kingston), Hamlet (World Tour), A Model for Mankind (Cock Tavern Theatre), A Christmas Carol (European Tour), La Dispute (Theatre du Preau,
Normandy) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oxford Shakespeare Company).

David Kershaw’s theatre credits include The Representative, I Wish to Die Singing, The New Morality (Finborough Theatre), The Alchemist (National Tour), The Great Gatsby (National Tour), Macbeth (National Tour), The Taming of the Shrew (Arcola Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry IV Part 1, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Coriolanus and Measure for Measure (St George’s Theatre, London). Film credits include Tomb Raider 2 and Encounters. Numerous television credits include Bergerac, All Creatures Great and Small, EastEnders, The Bill, Crown Prosecutor, Crimewatch, Scarred, Cave Dog, Supergirly, Oscar Charlie, If and Decoding the Papyri.

Ania Marson’s theatre credits include Camus’ Les Justes (Bridge Lane Theatre), Perdition (Royal Court Theatre) and Hotel Sorrento (Cock Tavern). Her film credits include Puppet on a Chain, Nicholas and Alexandra, The Abdication (in which she co-starred with Liv Ullman) and Nic Roeg’s Bad Timing. Television credits include Casanova, The Strauss Family, Target, Blake’s 7, Marie Curie, Small Zones, Dorabella, Emma and Merchant in Venice.

Eunice Roberts recently starred in Mary Broome (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond) and has toured the US with The Winter’s Tale, The Cherry Orchard, Much Ado About Nothing, All’s Well That Ends Well and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (AFTLS).

Malcolm Tierney’s numerous stage credits include The Last Confessor (UK Tour), Hecuba (Royal Shakespeare Company), Wit (Vaudeville Theatre), Noises Off (Comedy Theatre) and Les Blancs (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester). Television includes Hindenburg, Nicholas Nickleby, When Hitler Invaded Britain, The Quiet Policeman, Dalziel and Pascoe, Love Joy and The Bill. Film credits include Star Wars, Braveheart, In the Name of the Father, Shiner, The Final Curtain, The Saint and Jerzy.


“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

Evenings at 7.30pm. Extra matinee on 24 July at 3.00pm.

Performance Length: Approximately 90 minutes with no interval.

Tickets £13, £9 concessions



Written by Nell Dunn

Directed and Designed by Fiona Morrell

Lighting by Jonathan Goldstone

Presented by Strawberry Vale Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.