Caryl Churchill’s play The Skriker blends English folktales with modern urban life and tells the story of an ancient fairy in pursuit of two young mothers. It was first performed at the National Theatre, London, in the Cottesloe auditorium, on 20 January 1994.
The play follows the Skriker, a shape-shifting fairy and death portent from the underworld, in its search for love and revenge as it pursues two young women, Josie and Lily, to London, changing its shape at every new encounter. Along with the Skriker comes Rawheadandbloodybones, the Kelpie, the Green Lady, Black Dog and more, until the whole country is swarming with enticing and angry creatures that have burst from the underworld.
Churchill has the Skriker speak in English when conversing with Josie and Lily, but her native tongue is a dizzying mixture of fragmented poetry and wordplay.
The National Theatre premiere was directed by Les Waters and designed by Annie Smart with music by Judith Weir and movement by Ian Spink. The cast included Kathryn Hunter as the Skriker, Sandy McDade as Josie and Jacqueline Defferary as Lily.
The Skriker received its American premiere at New York’s Public Theater in 1996.
It was revived at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, as part of the Manchester International Festival in July 2015 in a production directed by Sarah Frankcom and starring Maxine Peake in the title role.