David Harrower


Plays by David Harrower


Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Fifteen years ago Una and Ray had a relationship.

They haven't set eyes on each other since.

Now, years later, she's found him again.

Blackbird premiered at King's Theatre as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, in August 2005, and transferred to the Albery Theatre in London's West End in 2006. The production received the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. In 2007, the play opened simultaneously at the Manhattan Theater Club in New York and at American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco.

The Chrysalids

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In a post-nuclear holocaust society dedicated to absolute conformity, a group of young people discover they have an unusual gift of communication. Betrayed from within, they escape into the forbidden Fringes.

David Harrower's adaptation of John Wyndham's novel The Chrysalids was specially commissioned by the Royal National Theatre for the BT National Connections Scheme for young people.

Dark Earth

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

When Valerie and Euan's car breaks down in remote countryside near the Antonine Wall they have a problem. With their mobiles left at home and an evening out arranged in Glasgow, they must find help fast.

This comes in the form of Petey and Ida and their twenty-year-old daughter Christine, a farming family who live and breathe the history and traditions of the small area of earth they've made their home. Dark Earth premiered at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in July 2003.

Kill the Old Torture Their Young

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Kill the Old Torture their Young is an urban tragicomedy of alienation, as what could have been a hymn to a beautiful Scottish city becomes a muffled cry of rage against alienation and disconnection.

A documentary maker returns to the place of his birth. His task is to film his impressions. An old man remembers a time when eagles flew overhead. A TV executive reaches breaking point in the city he loves. A struggling actor seeks fame in a city that doesn't seem to want him. A young woman ends her artistic dreams in a city that eludes her. A receptionist tries to break the mould of her life in the city where she's always lived. A rock star sings to himself in a city he's forgotten the name of. Each of them has a story to tell, but the question is whether anyone will listen.

Kill The Old Torture Their Young was first performed in 1998 at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.

Knives in Hens

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Knives in Hens is a brutal fable of awakening consciousness, a study of sex and knowledge that is stark and fierce.

The play is set in a timeless and spartan rural community, where conversation is blunt and functional, a tool like a plough or a knife. When the ploughman Pony Williams tells his wife, the unnamed Young Woman, that she is like a field, the simile makes no sense to her – she has no use for figurative language. But she begins an extraordinary journey towards articulacy, demanding names for the world she sees around her and demanding knowledge that will lead her towards God. At the same time, a threatening love triangle emerges between William, the Young Woman and the reviled village Miller.

The play has a primal and fundamental power, and is widely acknowledged to be a modern Scottish classic. It premiered in 1996 at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.


Faber and Faber
Type: Text

'We've got nothing to learn from anyone. We are who we are. We do what we do. No-one else can touch us' – except, that is, the horrific past of a city where human fat once ran in the gutters, the city ablaze.

Homesick, but fame-crazed, a group of Liverpudlian lads are about to become part of Hamburg's history forever.

Presence premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in April 2001.

Sweet Nothings

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

A young man has an affair with a married woman. He is terrified her husband will challenge him to a duel and kill him. Meanwhile he toys with the affections of another and, for a moment, life seems full of joy.

The doorbell rings. The husband enters the room.

Based on Schnitzler’s play Liebelei, David Harrower’s Sweet Nothings captures the power of sexual longing, the cruelty of tradition and the vulnerability of those in love.

‘I write of love and death. What other subjects are there?’
Arthur Schnitzler

David Harrower's plays include Knives in Hens, Kill the Old, Torture Their Young and Dark Earth (Traverse), Presence (Royal Court) The Chrysalids (NT Connections), Blackbird (Edinburgh International Festival; West End), A Slow Air (Tron Theatre, Glasgow) and Good with People (Traverse). Adaptations include Büchner's Woyzeck (Edinburgh Lyceum), Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author (Young Vic), Chekhov's Ivanov and Horváth's Tales from the Vienna Woods (National Theatre), Schiller's Mary Stuart (National Theatre of Scotland), and Brecht's The Good Soul of Szechuan and Gogol's The Government Inspector (Young Vic).