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Annie Baker: ‘John’ at the National Theatre

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Time 19:00
Date 03/03/18
Price £15

The week after Thanksgiving. A bed & breakfast in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A cheerful innkeeper. A young couple struggling to stay together. Thousands of inanimate objects, watching.

Running now until 3 March 2018

John is an uncanny new play by Annie Baker, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning The Flick had a sold-out run at the National in 2016. James Macdonald directs.

More about the writer, Annie Baker
Annie Baker first came to the NT in 2016 with her play The Flick. The slow-burn drama about the lives of the people working in a cinema received the Pulitzer Prize and critical acclaim, with the Guardian calling it ‘Astonishing. Hypnotic. Like no other play in London’.

Baker is back this year with John which had its premiere in 2015 at the Signature Theatre in New York. The play is about a young couple who book into a bed & breakfast to make or break their faltering relationship. But the overly pleasant host, cluttered knick-knacks and a mysterious elderly neighbour add to the already claustrophobic atmosphere.

John was a hit in New York, with The New York Times describing it as a ‘haunting and haunted meditation on topics she [Annie Baker] has made so singularly her own: the omnipresence of loneliness in human life, and the troubled search for love and lasting connection’.

If you’ve seen Baker’s previous work, then you’ll be familiar with the long-drawn-out silences and awkward conversations that can trail off. It’s a style of hyper realism not often seen on stage – and it’s not something that appeals to everyone. Baker has said that she is constantly distressed by the amount of small talk that we have to go through every day. Her plays explore the agonies of small talk and of people’s failure to articulate something. With John Baker, turns her attention to ‘feelings of the uncanny and of dread’.

In 2017 Baker was named a MacArthur Fellow (also known as a ‘Genius Grant’) awarded for her ability to ‘mine the minutiae of how we speak, act, and relate to one another and the absurdity and tragedy that result from the limitations of language’.