World’s End is the debut play from upcoming writer James Corley; an LGBT love story opening at The King’s Head Theatre brings the venue’s ever popular Queer Season to a close. Director Harry Mackrill (who was recently announced as one of the Kings Heads new artistic associates) talks about why he chose to work on World’s End, what drew him to the piece, and what he wants audiences to take away. Harry was Associate Director at Kiln Theatre (2018-19), was the Associate Director on the National’s production of ‘Angels in America’ (2017) and is currently Associate Director on David Hare’s adaptation of Peter Gynt at the National Theatre.

Hi Harry. How does it feel to be returning to the King’s Head Theatre? I love the King’s Head. I think it is a magical space and I cannot begin to describe how supportive and instrumental Adam, KHT’s Artistic Director, has been in my journey as a director. It’s amazing to be back there, especially with a debut play, and as part of the Queer Season.World’s End is a very special project for me. The play means a great deal, and the cast and creative team are all united behind it. I feel very lucky that we are working together on such a great play, in such an important theatre.

For those who don’t know what is World’s End about? World’s End is an extraordinary first play set in the World’s End estate in Chelsea across
1998 and 1999 – it has huge scope, taking in the Kosovo War, the Millennium and issues such as single parenthood – but at its heart it’s a love story about two young men who sit down to play Zelda on the Nintendo and fall in love.

How did you come across the play? James and I worked together many years ago when he was an actor. It was his idea that I directed a play, so I returned the favour and told him he should write! (Neither of us where
ever going to change the world with our acting…). He told me he was writing the play and sent it along. I was blown away by the power of the
characters and the simplicity of the writing. It’s profoundly moving and very funny. James has a gift for dialogue and characterisation – I think that’s why we’ve got such a fantastic cast – they really recognise that this is an important piece of new writing. I sent the current draft to Adam at the King’s Head, and now I’m talking to you!

What were your first impressions of James Corley’s play? My main impression was: “I hope he lets me direct this”. The characters and story jumped off the page. I had my red-pen ready to go and actually sat and read the whole thing from start to finish without taking my eyes of the page. There is one moment in this play, I won’t spoil it now, but is one of the most beautiful things I’ve read. I cried on the Northern Line.

Was there anything particular that made you want to bring this story to the stage? As a play set in the late 90s, when I was at school, it looks at social repression and the fact that not so long ago, queer voices were not heard. It’s taken me a long while to accept who I am and be proud in myself, and it feel important to me that I bring those stories to the stage. This play means a great deal to me because it looks at love – in many, many forms – and I think we need more love stories.

What would you like the audience to take away from this production? When it’s all boiled down, I think the point of the play is talking about the importance of having courage in who we are and the courage it takes to love people. My mantra to the cast during rehearsals has been how important it is to love and the bravery that takes – so hopefully people will feel that in the storytelling and take it home!

By Emma Clarendon

World’s End will run at The King’s Head Theatre until September 21st . Tickets and more information from https://system.spektrix.com/kingsheadtheatre/website/eventdetails.aspx?WebEventId=worldsend

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