The Night Heron

by Jez Butterworth

Previews from 11 April 2002
opened 17 April through until 18 May 2002

The Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
The Royal Court Theatre
Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS

Ray Winstone and Karl Johnson - photo by Tristram KentonRoyal Court Theatr e Box Office Tel:+44 (0)207 565 5000
Click here for Royal Court website where you can buy tickets online

Directed by Ian Rickson
Designed by Ultz
Lighting by Mick Hughes
Music by Stephen Warbeck

Cast includes Ray Winstone
with Geoffrey Church, Karl Johnson, Roger Morlidge, Paul Ritter, Finlay Robertson, Jessica Stevenson.


The sighting of a rare bird attracts attention to a remote part of the Fens. The visiting birdwatchers cannot know what dangers lie in the freezing darkness of the marshes. In an isolated cabin Wattmore, bruised and bleeding, is recording the Old Testament onto cassette. Griffin arrives with fish and chips. Salvation is at hand - a cash prize for winning the university poetry competition and a possible lodger. Meanwhile, outside the town is stirring.

L to R: Jessica Stevenson as Bolla, Karl Johnson as Wattmore, Ray Winstone as Griffin and (lying) Finlay Robertson as Jonathan. Photo by Geraint Lewis.


Ray Winstone and Karl JohnsonI saw the final preview on Tuesday 16 April. It was a play that I enjoyed throughout (although the first Act is much stronger than the second) but ultimately I felt that it didn't exceed the sum of its parts.

It concerns two East Anglian ex-gardeners living together in the fens, their lodger, and a religious cult.

There were only two really good roles, fortunately one of those was Ray as Griffin, a mild-mannered poetry-writing ex-gardener who may harbour dark secrets, and whose devotion to his friend Wattmore (Karl Johnson) may go beyond the bounds of mere friendship. Ray did an excellent East Anglian accent, and looked great with short hair and a cropped beard.

The other meaty role was that of Bolla, the awkward ex-con who becomes a lodger. She is played outstandingly by Jessica Stevenson in a fat-suit. She has pathos and great comic timing. She and Ray had some great moments and had good chemistry on-stage.

Overall I think I would recommend this play. I enjoyed the journey through it, although with hindsight it disappoints. Ray has a quiet, unshowy role in it which he performs with finesse.


Ray as Griffin in The Night HeronReviews

The reviews are varied:

The Evening Standard 18 April - click here
The Times 18 April - click here
The Independent 19 April - click here
The Guardian 19 April - click here
The Observer 21 April - click here
The Stage April - click here

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