Theatre: First Light and Mr Darwin's Tree


First Light - Trailer from Fionn Watts on Vimeo.

The King's Head Theatre in Islington is playing a season of plays by Murray Watts this month. I finally caught the double bill - First Light and Mr Darwin's Tree - on Thursday evening. It all makes for an evening of unexpected surprises. Laughs, shocks and a few revelations abound over the course of two very different pieces of theatre.


The play First Light is set in a British boarding school on the last day of the summer term. Early in the morning a schoolgirl knocks on the door of the schoolmaster's room. And she is just wearing a robe... A seemingly innocent encounter leads to a series of revelations. It is not until the final minutes of the piece does everything come together and the actions of the characters begin to make sense. A fascinating study of trust and innocence accompanied by some great dialogue that manages to be funny and shocking. There are great performances by the cast, but particularly Natalie Burt as the the school girl Merry Catherwood.

The second piece, Mr Darwin's Tree is a great monologue performed by Andrew Harrison which covers the life of Charles Darwin from his preliminary research to the publishing of his Origin of the Species.  Facts about his life and his contemporaries are woven into a witty and insightful piece about the man. It is an interesting meditation on how one man's science influences another's religion.

Whether one can see any links between the two pieces probably depends on how much alcohol one consumed in the bar before the show or during the interval. But here are two pieces of theatre that are bound to make you laugh, and think about things a little differently. There is not much more you could ask from an evening in Islington than that surely?


Mr Darwin's Tree - Trailer from Fionn Watts on Vimeo.

It runs through to January 29. There is also another Murray Watts play, Happiness playing as well. The views from @johnnyfoxlondon and Peter from a post show Audioboo follow...

First light and Mr Darwin"s Tree (mp3)

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