Contractions (2014)

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Poster by Emma Baines

by Mike Bartlett

Directed by Mark Ireson

Performances: Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 January 2014, Prompt Corner


“Emma. Come in. Sit down. How are you?"

Emma has started a new job. Her sales figures are excellent. Darren works there too, and they’ve had a bit of a thing.

She thinks she’s in love. Her manager thinks she’s in breach of contract.

In a succession of interviews between Emma and her manager, we enter a workplace in which everything seems recognisable, but little is; where the inherent messiness and unpredictability of human emotions are viewed by management as an inconvenient nuisance. In this otherwise streamlined, super-efficient structure, two employees falling in love could really upset the apple cart. But what do you do? It’s hard finding alternative employment these days with a blot on your record and no reference. Jobs like this don’t just grow on trees. Not these days. There are hundreds of applicants for every job.

Since its first production at the Royal Court in 2008, Mike Bartlett’s short play has rapidly become acknowledged as a modern classic. It’s taut, disturbing, extremely funny and has a huge deal to say about how we live and how we work in a world where the boundaries between private and public, personal and professional are blurring beyond recognition.

You’ll never see work in quite the same way again.




The cast and crew would like to thank: Carrie Andrews, Lisa Thomas, Helen Chadney, Mark Bullock, Steph Urquhart and KDC Theatre, Pauline Armour and Bromley Little Theatre.

All the volunteers in the bar, box office and front of house teams; SLT would fall apart without your hard work.

Our condolences and commiserations to Naomi Liddle and the company of Mr Marmalade which you should have been watching now.


From the SLT discussion board:

Do see this if you can. Two extremely strong performances in a most thought-provoking play. New girl, Millie Harding is a brilliant find and Caroline's portrayal as the cold and utterly ruthless Manager is probably one of the strongest performances you will see this year, I predict. You will laugh; you may cry; you will certainly gasp in astonished disbelief.

Oh! And don't miss the understated non-speaking, uncredited cameo from Graham Clements. A Masterclass!

Matthew Lyne

Thoroughly enjoyed this show tonight. Congrats to the team - 2 brilliant actors in a very thought-provoking play about work/life balance. Mark and all the company should be praised for a fine production which had the audience debating in the bar afterwards. Loved it!

P.S. Sorry not to mention Graham Clements in a significant acting role!!!!

Christine Theophilus

Congratulations to everyone involved. It was too reminiscent of my own tete-a-tetes with Human Resources to be an entirely "enjoyable" experience; but I thought it was brilliantly written, directed and performed. What with this and "Travels With My Aunt" (which I also loved), SLT's 2014 season has got off to an absolutely cracking start !

Audrey Lindsay

From the production Facebook page:

Absolutely loved this! Totally brilliant writing, dark as the centre of a black hole, and performed to absolute perfection by both actors. It always daft to say "best show of the year" in January, but it has certainly set the bar high (sadly I missed Travels With My Aunt so for me it's the first of the season). Go, go, go, or you'll be missing out on something really special. And dark, did I mention it was dark?

Naomi Liddle



The (almost complete) company waiting to see their manager. L to R: Sarah Farage, Graham Clements, Milly Harding, Caroline Doyle, Mark Ireson and Jenny Clements

Phil Gammon's complete gallery of production photos can be seen here


Graham Clements in his much discussed cameo appearance

Reminiscences and Anecdotes

Members are encouraged to write about their experiences of working on or seeing this production. Please leave your name. Anonymous entries may be deleted.

See Also

Not Talking (2013) by Mike Bartlett



External Links