The Trials - Donmar Warehouse

The Trials Reviews at the Donmar Warehouse, cast includes Joe Locke

The Trials has opened at the Donmar Warehouse in London.

The UK premiere of Dawn King’s The Trials is directed by Natalie Abrahami, and is a Donmar LOCAL production that runs until 27 August 2022.

The cast includes Netflix’s Heartstopper stars Joe Lock and Will Gao as the jury alongside Elise Alexandre, Francis Dourado, Jowana El-Daouk, Pelumi Ibiloye, Honor Kneafsey, e, Rue Millwood, Charlie Reid, Meréana Tomlinson, Taya Tower and Jairaj Varsani, and Nigel Lindsay and Sharon Small play the defendants.

Dawn King’s explosive new play about the climate crisis has had a unique casting process, with 1372 young people engaged through schools and community groups , and then a further 206 young people put through intensive development workshops for the play.

More reviews to follow


"Teenagers are given power of life or death in Dawn King’s gripping climate dystopia"

"‘The Trials’ works both on an allegorical level – how will our children judge us? – and also to explore the idea that revolution and an end of democracy is likely if governments won’t meaningfully tackle climate change."

"I found ‘The Trials’ gripping, both as an urgent imagining of how our generation will be viewed by our kids, but also a smart imagining of revolution generally."

" ‘Heartstopper’ fans here for Locke will be happy that his intense, angry Noah is a highlight, as is pro actor Kneafsky’s zen Ren. There’s even another ‘Heartstopper’ alumnus in William Gao as dashing volunteer worker Xander."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Evening Standard

"Intriguing climate change drama with activism at its roots"

"A courtroom drama with a difference, set in a not-so-distant dystopia hit by climate disaster"

"The premise is intriguing and dramatically rich: in a not-so-distant dystopia in the throes of climate disaster, retroactive laws about individual carbon limits and economic barriers have been imposed, leaving most ‘normal’ people open to blame and punishment."

"The young performers form a sturdy, impassioned ensemble and are well guided under Natalie Abrahami’s direction, but the debate-heavy, story-light format grows tiresome. The problem with plays about the climate – and anything issue-based – is that it can begin to feel like a lecture if there isn’t a human story at the heart to cling to. The Trials does introduce that emotive story, but too late for us to get invested."

Farah Najib, The Evening Standard
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The Stage


"Timely and troubling speculative drama imagines the grim repercussions of our current climate emergency"

"Though the dialogue’s sometimes bogged down in didacticism, King pushes beyond simplistic questions of right and wrong."

"The jurors, meanwhile, are played with great commitment and focus by a young cast, many making their professional debuts as part of the Donmar Local programme, which encourages community engagement around Camden and Westminster."

Dave Fargnoli, The Stage
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The Telegraph

"The new play putting adults on trial for their climate-change sins"

"The Trials, by Dawn King, sees the younger generations mete out ecological justice to their elders. But where’s the dramatic power?"

"... while the acting from the newcomers is forgivably variable, all bring authenticating freshness to the stage, and there are some faces to watch. Charlie Reid as Tomaz, archetypally sulky then arrestingly animated by flights of fancy about the vanished world, impresses; so does Francis Dourado as the cautious, quizzical Mohammad and Honor Kneafsey as responsible jury-leader Ren. Stars of the future? The next step is just to ensure there’s a future at all."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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The Guardian

"Tomorrow’s children hold us to account for climate crimes"

"In a near-future world on fire, a jury of 12 young people listen to testimony from the ‘dinosaur’ generation"

"This courtroom drama has a compelling conceit, though it ends up slightly repetitive, and perhaps doesn’t fully develop its dystopian horror until the third and final defendant gives her testimony. But it holds us in its grip intellectually, and there is a complex interplay of arguments between the jurors, who grapple with ethical dilemmas and ideological positions involving justice, revenge and the possibility of forgiveness."

"Under Natalie Abrahami’s direction they all bring immense spirit, with a particularly controlled performance from Honor Kneafsey as the head juror, while Francis Dourado is strong as an often lone defender of those on trial. Taya Tower has a good, nervy presence while Charlie Reid is convincingly annoying in his part as a stroppy teen."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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The Observer

" A teenage jury call their climate-ruining elders to account"

"The ‘dinosaur’ generation is put on trial in Dawn King’s near-future new play, graced by some nicely nuanced performances from its youthful cast"

"On the whole, the less measured the character, the surer the actor’s landing. Joe Locke, of Netflix hit Heartstopper, has wonderful ease, Jowana El-Daouk unyielding scorn, Charlie Reid an outstanding sardonic loll. Something else takes place beyond individual characterisation. The group, introducing themselves with their preferred pronouns, spread themselves around the action with coltish grace, sprawling, meditating, deep breathing. Being young, bringing a new climate to the Donmar."

Susannah Clapp, The Observer
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Daily Mail

"See title"

"The Trials is a net-zero entertainment set in a dystopian near future where juries of children have been formed to judge and condemn to death an entire generation of baby boomer 'dinosaurs' for trashing the planet."

"Natalie Abrahami's production wisely avoids an interval lest we escape this onerous stretch of jury duty. There are obvious echoes of William Goldings' Lord Of The Flies, while the Nuremburg Trials provide moral and historical context — and similar levels of mirth."

Patrick Marmion, Daily Mail
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i News

"... this new play by Dawn King – whose 2011 debut Foxfinder offered a similarly unsettling vision of authoritarianism and nature in revolt – pursues rage, injustice, social schism and vengeance to their annihilating endpoint."

"The middle-aged defendants – compellingly played by Nigel Lindsay, Lucy Cohu and Sharon Small – are pitilessly spotlit, delivering their mitigating statements before the youngsters and an imagined online audience. If they’re found guilty they will be sentenced to be publicly “euthanised”, a radical solution to the overpopulation problem."

"It’s a grotesquely vivid glimpse of apocalypse that gives horrifying shape to our worst nightmares."

Sam Marlowe, i News
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👤 📅21 August 2022
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