Alistair McDowall’s New Play “X” At The Royal Court Theatre (London, U.K.)

    Photo credit: Heiko Prigge

    Alistair McDowall’s new play “X” is directed by Royal Court Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone.

    Talented cast … Jessica Raine as Gida in X at the Royal Court, London.

    © Tristram Kenton

    “Billions of miles from home, the lone research base on Pluto has lost contact with Earth. Unable to leave or send for help, the skeleton crew sit waiting.


    Waiting long enough for time to start eating away at them.
    To lose all sense of it.
    To start seeing things in the dark outside.”

    “It’s a tax write-off. This is where they send the new, the underqualified, the old. And most of all the British. Mars is full of blonde Americans. It’s like they’re building the master race out there.”

    © Tristram Kenton

    It’s an far from an easy, pleasant watch. X challenges the nature of performance and story-telling, undermining assumptions. But what’s so striking is the tender, chilling way in which McDowall animates the very nature of lucidity, memory and meaning. It’s clever enough to leave you reeling, without veering into abstraction and alienating audiences.” – Culture Whisper

    “The Big Idea is a strand of work at the Royal Court offering audiences radical thinking and provocative discussion inspired by the work on stage. Events alongside X include short sound plays imagined for an impossible space, playwright Alistair McDowall in conversation with Royal Court Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone, and a discussion about the possibility of life on Pluto.”

    “Alistair McDowall follows up his stunning ‘Pomona’ with this brain-melting SF odyssey“. – Time Out, Andrzej Lukowski

    © Tristram Kenton


    Jessica Raine Rudi Dharmalingam Darrell D'Silva
    James Harkness Ria Zmitrowicz
    JAMES HARKNESS : Clark ;      RIA ZMITROWICZ : Mattie

    GRACE DOHERTY : Young Mattie ; AMBER FERNÉE : Young Mattie

    “McDowall and Featherstone wrest hard-edged genre tropes into something hauntingly human. X is a play that will gnaw away at you. It’s SF – and theatre – at its best”. – The Stage | Tom Wicker


    A born film-buff – he reels off a string of auteurs including Takashi Miike, Andrei Tarkovsky and John Carpenter – Alistair McDowall started writing for theatre because he couldn’t afford a camcorder.

    He quickly became hooked: “In theatre, I can do whatever I want. No one is going to say, ‘Don’t put a time machine in your play. I had that realisation: there are no rules in theatre – you can do anything. Whatever rules there are, you can break them – immediately if you want to’” – The Guardian

    Alistair McDowall (born 1987) is a playwright who grew up in Great Broughton in northeast of England (U.K.). His play “Brilliant Adventures” was awarded a Bruntwood Prize in 2011, and was developed as part of the Young Writers Festival 2012 at the Royal Court.

    McDowall has been a writer on attachment with the Royal Court, Paines Plough, and the National Theatre Studio (Summer 2013).

    His plays include “Pomona” at the Orange Tree Theatre, “Talk Show” at the Royal Court Theatre, “Captain Amazing” at the Edinburgh Fringe and Soho Theatre, and “Brilliant Adventures” at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

    His play “Pomona” transferred to the National Theatre and the Royal Exchange Theatre in Autumn 2015.


    The Royal Court Theatre is a non-commercial theatre on Sloane Square, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London. It is noted for its contributions to modern theatre. In 1956 it was acquired by and is home to a resident company, the English Stage Company.

    “X” by Alistair McDowell

    ALISTAIR MCDOWALL : Playwright


    MERLE HENSEL: Designer

    LEE CURRAN: Lighting Designer

    NICK POWELL: Composer & Sound Designer

    TAL ROSNER: Video Designer


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