by Adam Rapp
Ticket prices: £6 - £20
Wed 16 Jul 2008 - Sat 26 Jul 2008

A young piano prodigy reeling from the tragic death of his younger sister flees to New York City.  He takes an uneasy refuge in books and reinvents himself as a writer.

Across the decade and a half that follows he tries to cope with the ramifications of the tragic accident that tears his family apart and shatters the American dream.

Award-winning Adam Rapp is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker.  Music for Nocturne has been especially commissioned by Phillip Neil Martin to give voice to this unimaginable event.

Nocturne will be performed by Peter McDonald, whose stage credits include Glengarry Glen Ross at the Apollo Theatre, Aristocrats for the National Theatre and Days of Wine and Roses for the Donmar Warehouse.

 “ A brilliant, terrifying, perceptive, occasionally funny play.. Bold, daring and successful”  New York Post

“lushly poetic, full of the kind of quirky detail you’ll find in Cormac McCarthy or William Gaddis”  Time Out New York

Director: Matt Wilde

Music: Phillip Neil Martin

Set, Costume and Video: Lorna Heavey

Lighting: Tim Mitchell

Performed by Peter McDonald

Running Time 1 hour 40 mins; no interval. 

Due to the nature of the performance, there will be a strictly no latecomers policy for Nocturne. We advise you to allow plenty of time for your journey to the theatre.


Nocturne will be transferring to the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Click here for more info

Mark Fisher discusses Adam Rapp and the inspiration behind Nocturne - read article

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Peter McDonald

Peter McDonald

Peter McDonald recently appeared in James McDonald’s production of Glengarry Glen Ross at the Apollo Theatre, West End.  His other theatre credits include Exiles and The Aristocrats for the National Theatre, Resurrection Blues for the Old Vic, Days of Wine and Roses and A Lie of the Mind for the Donmar Warehouse, The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Garrick Theatre, The Wexford Trilogy for the Tricycle Theatre, and White Horses for the Gate Theatre, Dublin.  His television credits include The Family Man, Sea of Souls, The Plot to Kill Hitler, Green Wing and Spooks.  His film credits include Nora, I Went Down, Saltwater (for which he won best actor at the Irish Film and Television Awards), The Henchman's Tales, Felicia's Journey and November Afternoon.


Adam Rapp - Writer

Award-winning Adam Rapp is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker.  His plays produced in the UK include Ghosts in the Cottonwoods and Gompers, both at the Arcola Theatre; Blackbird which was performed at the Bush Theatre; and Finer Noble Gases which was produced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  His other work, produced in the US, includes Animals and Plants, Stone Cold Dead Serious, Faster, Trueblinker, Dreams of the Salthouse and Red Light Winter.
Matt Wilde - Director

Matt directed Out of the Fog by Roy Williams for the Almeida Theatre in 2007. He has directed an extensive range of other theatre productions including Branded, Get Tested, Sky’s The Limit and On The Middle Day for the Old Vic, PolarBear for Birmingham Rep/Actors Touring Company, Gizmo Love for Actors Touring Company, On Tour for the Royal Court and Liverpool Everyman Theatre, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth for Southwark Playhouse. He has worked as Co-Director, Associate Director and Assistant Director on numerous National Theatre productions including Slow Time, His Dark Materials Revival, Stuff Happens and Jumpers, and as assistant director on She Stoops to Conquer, A Laughing Matter and Hinterland for National Theatre/Out of Joint. 
Phillip Neil Martin - Music
Phillip studied at the Royal College of Music, and has since won numerous awards and fellowships across the world. His work has been performed by organisations including the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Nash Ensemble, Schubert Ensemble, BBC Singers, Zephyr string quartet, and Paragon Ensemble. His music has recently been performed at Gaudeamus Music Week, Cheltenham, Aldeburgh, Spitalfields and City of London Festivals, as well as the National Theatre, Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, National Gallery, Tokyo Opera City Hall and Suntory Hall, amongst many others.
He has also worked on multi-genre and music projects including the ground breaking Voices of the Asylum at the Royal Academy of Arts, and Black & White for Taiko drummers, electronics, fashion and architecture commissioned by the City of London Festival.
Lorna Heavey - Set, Costume & Video

Lorna has recently worked with the Almeida on The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Marianne Dreams. She has provided video, film and set design for a range of other theatre productions, including Macbeth for the Gielgud Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre, The Caucasian Chalk Circle for the National Theatre, The Tempest for the RSC and the Novello Theatre Michigan, Phaedra for the Donmar Warehouse, Rough Crossings for the Lyric Hammersmith, Faustus for Hampstead Theatre, and Betrayal for Theatre Royal Northampton. Lorna has also designed for opera including Mahabharata for Sadler's Wells, and Dido and Aeneas for Opera North, and her television work includes The Mighty Boosh and The Bendix Report. Lorna has also designed for art exhibitions and has written and directed several film and theatre productions.
Tim Mitchell - Lighting
Tim has previously worked with the Almeida on Big White Fog, The Lightning Play, Enemies, Blood Wedding, Whistling Psyche and Brighton Rock. He has also worked extensively for the RSC, and on productions in the West End (Dirty Dancing, Bad Girls The Musical, Otherwise Engaged, Of Mice and Men) and on Broadway (The Play What I Wrote, Noises Off). Other theatre credits include Merrily We Roll Along for the Donmar Warehouse, Cinderella for the Old Vic, and The Cherry Orchard, Lear, Ain’t Misbehaving, Richard III, Edward II and A Chorus Line for the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. His opera and ballet credits include Hamlet for Northern Ballet Theatre, Into the Woods for Royal Opera House, Linbury, Elektra for Marinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, The Lady and the Fool for Birmingham Royal Ballet, and La Traviata and Ariadne auf Naxos for Welsh National Opera.

'Startlingly vivid...a mesmerising performance by Peter McDonald...its emotional echoes persistently resound'
Sam Marlowe, The Times, 22 July 2008
'A masterclass in monologue acting'
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard, 21 July 2008
'Exquisitely written and directed...heartrendingly performed. This is theatre that invades the emotions in its enormous tragedy produced, performed, and directed to perfection'

Blanche Marvin, London Theatre Reviews, 18 July 2008

'A terrific performance in a supremely controlled piece of work'

Killian Fox, The Observer, 3 August 2008

'**** (4 stars) This is one of the most honestly human performances you're likely to witness for some time.'

Neil Cooper, The Herald, 4 August 2008

Read full article



Audience Reaction
Audience comments on Nocturne:
“A phenomenal piece of story telling. The writing is beautiful and Peter McDonald performs with such subtlety and ease that you can't help being drawn into his powerful, heartbreaking story. The humour and music break up the narrative to create a stirring ninety minutes that had me hooked from the off.”
Nocturne and Adam Rapp

'A bitterer pill'

Mark Fisher discovers there's more to Adam Rapp than slacker comedy…
It was the play famed for the longest full-frontal onstage piss in  theatre history. Audiences watched in amazement as a naked and very hairy man rose from his comatose state and began to relieve himself. He peed and he peed. It was all anyone could talk about and I later found out the actor had had to force himself to drink pints of water before each show to guarantee he could, er, perform.
The play was Finer Noble Gases, the grungiest of comedies, about a bunch of wasted rock musicians whose creative energy had been diverted by a mind-numbing level of drug intake. Imagine The Young Ones if they'd really been the drop-outs Rik imagined themselves to be. Performed in the rough-and-ready Bongo Club, it was a perfect portrait of four New York flatmates tucking in to bowls of coloured pills, throwing up behind the sofa and kicking in the television in between vague attempts at holding a conversation.
In keeping with the slacker spirit, it finished with the actors getting it together to launch a full-on prog-rock workout. Such was the organic, oddball texture of the piece, it was easy to imagine playwright Adam Rapp had not so much crafted it as stumbled upon it in a drug-addled haze. You imagined him as some drop-out who was in the theatre by accident rather than design.
The truth is altogether different. The 40-year-old might have been a discovery for Edinburgh, but on home turf, he's a respected, not to say prolific, writer and director. He's produced seven novels for teenagers, one for grown-ups and a couple of graphic novels. As well as a dozen plays, he has written and directed two films, including Blackbird which played at last year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. He still finds time to play with the band that formed as a result of Finer Noble Gases. If this is what the rock'n'roll lifestyle does, then bring it on.
And although Rapp loves theatre to capture the imaginations of a young crowd, Finer Noble Gases is not the only string to his bow. To see a considerably more delicate side to him, check out Nocturne, a one-man show about grief, being produced by London's Almeida Theatre. Although written at around the same time as the other play, it's more likely to drive you to tears than gasps of astonished laughter.
'Some of my things are a little more refined, I guess,' he says. 'I wrote Finer Noble Gases after Nocturne and wanted to be known as a different kind of writer. Every theatre critic thought I was schizophrenic. Nocturne is a memory play about a guy who accidentally kills his little sister in a head-on collision. It reads like a novella and is a very literary piece, so it’s very different in style. It was the piece in the United States that allowed other theatres to take the risk on all the other crazy plays.'
On its debut at the American Repertory Theatre, it received two playwriting awards followed by an acclaimed off-Broadway run in 2001. What audiences didn't know was it had been written as a way for Rapp to deal with a true-life tragedy. 'The next-door neighbour and best friend of my little sister, was killed in front of her house by her uncle,' he says. 'She was chasing a ball and was decapitated. It was so tragic that her uncle accidentally hit her in his truck. My sister witnessed it. It was devastating for her family. My mother was dying of cancer at the same time, so I was living with the whole grief thing. I was haunted by this accidental death. The family were like walking ghosts for the next year. I didn't know how you could ever get over something like that. I started writing this thing and it turned out to be Nocturne.'
The result, like the accident, is what one critic called 'excruciating to experience and impossible to ignore'. 'It's a dark piece that raises lots of questions about memory, guilt, complicity, family love and mercy,' says Rapp. 'I don't think it's totally different to my other plays, but something about the way it was written makes it much more digestible.'
Mark Fisher
Article originally written for The List -


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