Tom Littler has just been appointed the new artistic director at the Orange Tree in Richmond. It’s a reward for his consistently interesting programming at the tiny Jermyn Street theatre which includes this latest play from Howard Brenton who may be a veteran but whose late flowering has proved that he has his finger as much on the pulse as many younger writers. This one goes back to Ancient Athens where everyone is recovering from a plague and trying to get back to some semblance of normality. But local philosopher Socrates just keeps asking questions: nobody wants these questions to get an airing, and they certainly don’t want to contemplate the the answers. It’s just too scary. Sounds familiar? It’s 339BC, but maybe it could just as well be the contemporary UK.
Today, Socrates is revered as the founding father of Western philosophy. But in 399BC Athens, he was a pain in the neck. The plague is over, democracy is (just about) restored, and everyone would like to get back to normal. How hard is it for one ageing firebrand to stop asking questions? It’s time to shut him up… Based on eyewitness accounts, Cancelling Socrates is a provocative, witty and dangerous world premiere from Howard Brenton, one of our foremost dramatists, whose acclaimed plays have been staged at the National Theatre, RSC, Shakespeare’s Globe, and worldwide. He reunites with our Artistic Director, Tom Littler.