Peckham 2020. Laquaya (15 - loves hip-hop, feminism, Peperami) has broken into Elyot’s house. Elyot (32) is reclusive, eccentric and probably quite lonely. He’s making a model boat and listening to Beethoven whilst checking off his life week by week on a chart on the wall.
Watch this slightly odd couple go on a humorous and heart-warming journey from denial to acceptance, overcoming extreme difference and fear of vulnerability to realise that deep down, the essence of each of them make for a perfect match.
Essence explores what it’s like to be lonely, how much it takes to let people in, and how the messy bits of life are ultimately where the gold lies.
Essence is supported by The CULTIVATE Bursary, in Association with COMMON and the Newbury Corn Exchange.Book Now
Sarah Henley (Writer)
Sarah was Writer’s Assistant to Jeffrey Lane (Tony Award winner) on the West End production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and was on the BBC New Talent Hotlist in 2017. ‘Burkas and Bacon Butties’ (co-written with Shamia Chalabi) which premiered at Vault Festival in 2016 and was published by Nick Hern Books has since been optioned for TV, workshopped by the RSC and has a full run programmed at the Park Theatre in May/June 2020. Sarah’s been nominated for Off West End Awards for both Most Promising Playwright and Best New Musical (for Muted, Another Way and Streets - all collaborations with Tori Allen-Martin). Other plays include Getting Out, Getting Away and From Where I’m Standing.
Sarah is also a co-founder of the 'Netflix of UK Stand-Up' - NextUp Comedy.
After a bit of a break - having a baby (and fighting the patriarchy), she’s back with this very new play...and is a bit terrified if the truth be told.
Tori Allen-Martin (Director)
Directing Credits include: Streets (The Vaults), Boxed (The Vaults), A Splintered Woman (Theatre 503), Who I Could’ve Been (The Space), Company as part of Mini Musicals (London Studio Centre), Posh - third year training (London Studio Centre).
Tori was selected as one the BBC’s New Talent Hotlist of 2017. Her writing credits include: The Hardest One (The Other Palace); Streets (The Cockpit, Hackney Empire & The Vaults); and Another Way (The Cockpit).
Recent acting credits include The Season (Northampton Theatre, New Wolsey Theatre) One Man, Two Guv’nors (New Wolsey Theatre, Nuffield Southampton Theatres) with recent television credits including: London Kills (Acorn TV/PG TV/BBC); Unforgotten 3 (Mainstreet Pictures/ITV); Pure (Drama Republic/Channel 4); and Clean Break (Sister Pictures/ITV).
Sarah and Tori
Sarah and Tori have known each other for over 20 years and have worked together for almost all of them.
Elyot: Timothy O'Hara (Shakespeare In Love, Mousetrap)
Laquaya: Nina Barker-Francis
Praise for previous work (Burkas and Bacon Buties):
London Theatre Bubble - “I don’t think more than two minutes went by without a laugh, and I don’t mean a little titter – I’m talking about at least 99% of the audience having a proper belly-based chuckle.”
Praise for previous work (From Where I’m Standing):
Three Weeks **** “This outstanding play...engages with problems which feel truly relevant to our time.”
Praise for previous work (Another Way)
Bargain Theatreland - “Simple, grounded, charming and full of heart, you know within seconds that you’re in for one special ride, but a gentle one that will hold your hand and remind you that anything is possible.”
Praise for previous work (Streets)
A Younger Theatre - “This is theatre for the younger generation that is fiercely creative and thrillingly fresh. It deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.”
Praise for previous work (Getting Away)
The Stage **** - ‘The ensuing hilarity will be familiar to anyone who enjoys a good old Alan Ayckbourn farce... Henley’s talent for observational comedy adds freshness and sparkle, while her empathetically drawn characters – performed by a lively cast – are a real pleasure to watch.’
Praise for previous work (Streets)
Arts Preview ***** - “It is brutally honest, edgy and has a plethora of crazy young talent bursting at the seams. I urge you to witness this extraordinary piece of theatre.”
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