The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings








Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London London Review
The Author

Society is defined by its edges, not its centre.— Tim
The Author
Tim Crouch centre
(Photo: Stephen Cummiskey)
Tim Crouch's play The Author has this curious playing area. The audience are raked, sitting facing each other as if the playing area is a narrow traverse corridor between them but then we realise there is no space where the playing area would be. There is no performance area except the audience. As Adrian speaks, it is as if he is an audience member. His enthusiasm and effusiveness are of the gushing variety as he praises the theatre and asks others in the audience whether they too feel the excitement. His targets in the audience mostly reply tersely but one audience member hasn't grasped that this is spoken to a script and starts to carry out a longer discussion but fortunately the actor isn't nonplussed and manages to wind it up.

A story emerges of a play written about violence and abuse. We hear of the research done by the playwright in the name of dramatic realism. He tells us that he accessed porn sites, playing videos of child abuse. We are told the effect playing an abuser has had on Vic, one of the actors, as he "gets into his part". We hear from Esther the actress, a grown woman who plays the 14 year old girl who is sexually abused. As they tell their stories, they ask solicitously whether we are ok with it. A woman leaves early on, she is part of the show. Is this a walk off part? Others leave later but we feel this is not staged. I watch as a woman opposite me wrinkles up her nose in distaste but she doesn't leave.

What Tim Crouch achieves is to get the audience to think about their participation in cruelty the name of art. His point isn't the obvious one of the audience as voyeurs but the dehumanising nature of involvement in terrible violence and sexual abuse of children when we view it or present it as entertainment. There is the harrowing description of the beheading of a hostage or the beating of a child by her father. The woman actor tells us the audience ask the same question over and over, "What's the blood made out of?" They ask about the technique so they can rationalise that what they have seen has been created like a magic trick. It is not real and they ask how it was done rather than talk about how it made them feel. It is the same as Adrian who introduces the piece with the excitement of being in the theatre. But The Author is also about the immersion of the writer and the actors in their roles, what they have to do to be convincing and how this affects them and their friends and families and behaviour.

And I suppose too The Author begs the question why are plays written about these issues which used to be unmentionable. The MP and Editor of The Pall Mall Gazette, WT Stead was prosecuted and imprisoned when, in order to expose the sex trade in Victorian times, he bought a 13 year old child from her chimney sweep father. How does showing simulated child rape on stage change anything? How does awareness of the beheading of a hostage change public opinion where it matters, where it will make a difference?

Tim Crouch is to be commended for extending this debate and for his original way of involving the audience in the staging of The Author without a stage. We are told by Esther that the audience found the piece so powerful because of the research the drama professionals had done. What is the price paid for this authenticity?

Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
The Author
Written by Tim Crouch
Directed by Karl James and a smith

With: Tim Crouch, Adrian Howells, Vic Llewellyn, Esther Smith
Lighting: Matt Drury
Music and Sound: Ben and Max Ringham
Running time: One hour 15 minutes with no interval
Box Office: 020 7565 5000
Booking to 24th October 2009
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 2nd October 2009 performance at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court, Sloane Square, London SW3 (Tube: Sloane Square)

Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The Author
  • I disagree with the review of The Author
  • The review made me eager to see The Author
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email . . . also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

London Theatre Tickets
Lion King Tickets
Billy Elliot Tickets
Mighty Boosh Tickets
Mamma Mia Tickets
We Will Rock You Tickets
Theatre Tickets
London Theatre Walks

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook

tales from shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

©Copyright 2009, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from