Cuckoo Tickets

Royal Court Theatre, London
Booking to 19 August 2023
Not currently booking

★★★★ “The perfect, bittersweet snapshot of our age” – i News

Michael Wynne’s dark comedy Cuckoo explores the safety of home and the different ways we cope in our increasingly uncertain world.

Olivier and BAFTA Award-winning playwright Michael Wynne returns to the Royal Court with his new play, directed by Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone.

Cuckoo is playing until 19 August 2023 at Royal Court Theatre, London.

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What's the story of Cuckoo?

“I do love some David Attenborough, but even he can be a bit of a miz bag now, always going on about climate change… You don’t want to think about the end of the world before you go to bed on a Sunday night.”

Doreen and her two grown up daughters sit at the table – eating fish and chips, distracted by their phones.

Upstairs, 17–year-old Megyn has locked herself in her grandmother’s bedroom and refuses to come out. And no one is entirely sure why…

Who is in the cast of Cuckoo?

Cuckoo stars Michelle Butterly as Carmel, Emma Harrison as Megyn, Sue Jenkins as Doreen and Jodie McNee as Sarah.

Who are the creative team of Cuckoo?

Written by Michael Wynne, and directed by Vicky Featherstone.

Peter McKintosh (Designer); Jai Morjaria (Lighting designer); Nick Powell (Sound designer and composer); Jonnie Riordan (Movement director); Jade Franks (Assistant director); Tom Turner (Associate lighting designer); Luke Roberts (Stage manager); Katie Stephen (Deputy stage manager); Lottie Denby (Assistant stage manager); Noelle Adames (Artist Wellbeing Practitioner).

Reviews of Cuckoo

★★★★ "The dark, relatable comedy the theatre has been missing" - i News

Read more reviews

Show Information

Performance dates
Booking to 19 August 2023
Age restrictions
Running time
2 hours (including interval)
Performance days
Evenings: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Matinees: Thursday, Saturday

Performance information is for guidance only. Check booking calendar for details.

Important Notes

Content Warnings:

This show contains haze and strong language.

Access performances:

Captioned: 02/08/2023 7:30pm 03/08/2023 2.30pm 12/08/2023 2:30pm
BSL: 19/08/2023 2:30pm
Audio described: 12/08/2023 2.30pm
Relaxed: 12/08/2023 2.30pm

Venue Information

Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AS
Nearest Tube or Train: Sloane Square (Circle Line, District Line)
Nearest Buses: 19, 22, 319, C1, N19, N22, 137, 452

Ticket Information

Official London Theatre tickets for  Cuckoo at the Royal Court Theatre, London

Book tickets to Cuckoo at the Royal Court Theatre, London with You will be purchasing official London theatre tickets from an authorised retailer and member of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers.

News about Cuckoo

Interview: Michael Wynne, writer of Cuckoo at the Royal Court
The latest play by Olivier and BAFTA Award-winning playwright Michael Wynne is Cuckoo, now playing at the Royal Court Theatre in London. His dark comedy about three generations of a matriarchal Birkenhead family stars Michelle Butterly, Emma Harrison, Sue Jenkins and Jodie McNee, and is directed by the Royal Court's artistic director Vicky Featherstone. Stage and screen writer Michael Wynne was a politics student at London University when he saw a poster advertising writing workshops at the Royal Court Theatre. That led to him writing his first play – The Knocky, a family saga set on a Birkenhead council estate – which was staged at the Sloane Square theatre and went on to win the Meyer-Whitworth Award for Best New Play. It was also the start of a long and fruitful working relationship between the writer and theatre which has included The People Are Friendly, verbatim NHS drama Who Cares, and The Priory, which won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. Three decades after The Knocky, he is returning to the Royal Court, and to Birkenhead, with his latest play Cuckoo. In this interview, Michael talks about comedy, class, collaborations - and what is making us all a little cuckoo! Cuckoo is playing at the Royal Court Theatre until 19 August 2023. Also: Check out a 'meet-the-cast' video for Cuckoo here, and behind-the-scenes rehearsal images here. Book tickets to Cuckoo at the Royal Court Theatre in London Interview: Michael Wynne Where did the inspiration for Cuckoo come from? It originally started with being interested in things you’re allowed to say and what you’re allowed to talk about, about having opinions and people disagreeing with each other. I also wanted to write something set in Birkenhead again, because it’s a world I know so well, and I just keep coming back to and feel really inspired by. It’s about a family of women, and I do write for women a lot and really love that. But initially I didn’t intend to write a female-only play. The characters just started speaking to me, and the path the plot took, the argument with Megyn and her then going upstairs, just happened - it wasn’t my intention. But I followed it, and it ended up becoming central to the whole piece. Can you explain a bit more about the ideas you explore in the play, and also the title Cuckoo? We’re living in a time which can feel quite strange and uncertain, with the pandemic, and Brexit, and weird weather. The characters are working class people who don’t have massive security. And when tenets of society, like education and health, perhaps aren’t working in the way they did before, things become even more uncertain. Especially with mental health and how people don’t quite know how to deal with those issues. There’s also this idea about the way we use technology, and especially phones, how these mini computers in our hand have taken over our lives. Maybe some things are crazier than they were. Or maybe it’s the fact we get newsflashes in the middle of a conversation about something we wouldn’t have known about in the past. So, it’s about all that. But it’s also the idea of a cuckoo in the nest, and there are two in the play - the phone is one, and Megyn is another. But I should say, a huge caveat is that it is a comedy! It’s the absurdity of how we live, and ultimately, it’s three generations of a family just trying to get on. Are you addicted to your phone as the characters are in the play? Well, I think I’m not. But then it’s quite hard not to be – they design them to become addictive. We sit down on a train or a bus or the Tube and we just pick up our phone. We also have everything on them as well, our whole lives. They do everything; we’re so reliant on them. You can see other people on their phones and think ‘look at them’, but I think we’re all just as bad. There’s a family dynamic that seems to run through a lot of your work. How central is that to your creative practice? My own family is huge for me, it’s such an inspiration even when I’m not aware of it. But I think we’re all part of families in very different ways and it’s a thing we all recognise. It’s great for having characters who care about each other, and who are invested in each other. You mentioned you wanted to write about Birkenhead again. Is that sense of place important to you and why? I write other things set in different places, but I do keep returning to Birkenhead and Merseyside. It still feels like my home. I’m there a lot and I go up there to write. And I feel that these characters are just alive. You know, just being out in Liverpool or Birkenhead, that everyone has got a story. And a character. And that’s what is so joyous. Why is it important to you to create working-class characters and stories? I feel that we just don’t see most of the population on stage. And I think that was always a bit of the case. But thinking about the angry young men and kitchen sink dramas, and then people like Willy Russell and Alan Bleasdale and Jim Cartwright and even Shelagh Delaney, all these wonderful writers, I feel that I don’t know who the writers are at the moment. I worry about not seeing many working-class plays, or even really any working-class actors. What’s the world a young writer or actor is going to be inspired by? You have said before now that there is usually a little bit of you in the characters you write. Is that true of Cuckoo and if so, who do you particularly identify with? There’s a bit of me in all of them. Some people who know me might go ‘oh God, I see Carmel’. But then I think there’s a bit of me in Sarah - being a bit bossy and controlling, trying to make things better but often failing. And there’s probably quite a lot of my mum in Doreen, and also a bit of me. There’s also a bit of me in Megyn, thinking I’m not addicted to my phone. And just getting more anxious about things, which happened during the pandemic, and finding life a bit tougher. This is your eighth collaboration with the Royal Court since you wrote your first play, The Knocky, three decades ago. What is it that keeps drawing you back? They look after the writer. During the pandemic the theatre was closed but they did this thing called the Living Newspaper where they invited writers to respond to what was going on. At that point I was a bit all over the place and I thought ‘oh my God, am I ever going to write anything again?’ I wrote a short piece (I’m Not Here) about a lad from Birkenhead who finds himself outside the Royal Court, and then finds his way in and feels like he doesn’t quite fit in – which is how I feel sometimes about theatre industry, even now. But on the other hand, I don’t. I love the Royal Court because it’s a writing theatre, and they’re very supportive and nurturing. After doing Living Newspaper, I was working on Cuckoo, and I said ‘oh well maybe you want to look at this’. They responded very positively and loved it. Through the rehearsal process, I’d come in in the morning and maybe go ‘oh, I’m going to change that line there and I’m going to add…’ and they just let me do it! What do you hope audiences will take away from Cuckoo? Life is complex, and for the different characters there are different struggles they’re going through. But it’s hard to know what I want people to ultimately take away. Maybe if we all binned our phone, we might be a bit happier? Although I know that’s not going to happen. With a lot of my plays, it’s quite funny at the beginning but then it does get quite dark later. Hopefully we’ve got you by then and you want to stay! There’s a lot of theatre out there at the moment which can feel like you’re taking medicine or doing your homework. I think we need a bit of a laugh and also, yes, to have the world reflected back at us. But to let go a bit and just have a good night out.
Royal Court announces three new plays for autumn 2023: Imposter 22, Blue Mist, Mates in Chelsea
The Royal Court Theatre has announced three new works to be performed between September and December 2023. In September the Royal Court will collaborate with Access All Areas for Imposter 22, a playful account of barrier navigation and the politics of neurodiversity. The new production will be created with the sensory needs of neurodivergent audience members in mind and all performances will be relaxed. Imposter 22 by Molly Davies (God Bless the Child, A Miracle) is a co-creation with seven learning disabled and autistic artists, who also perform in the piece, from an original idea by neurodivergent Royal Court Associate Director Hamish Pirie (Teh Internet is Serious Business, Violence and Son). The whodunnit caper has been collectively created, inspired by the lived experiences and imagination of the group. The cast and co-creators - Kirsty Adams, Cian Binchy, Housni Hassan (DJ), Dayo Koleosho, Stephanie Newman, Lee Phillips and Charlene Salter, have developed the piece over the last five years during a workshop process with director Pirie and writer Davies. Imposter 22 runs in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from 23 September to 14 October 2023. Blue Mist is a new play by Mohamed-Zain Dada, set in the shisha lounges of North West London. Directed by Royal Court Associate Director Milli Bhatia (Baghdaddy), the play follows a journalist who sells out his own community, in a candid riposte to the portrayal of South Asian Muslim men in the media. Blue Mist runs in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs from 5 October to 18 November 2023 Mates in Chelsea by Rory Mullarkey (Pity, The Wolf From The Door), is a contemporary comedy of manners, inspired by Wilde and Wodehouse and set among the dwellers of south west London who remain our country’s ruling class. Directed by Royal Court Associate Director Sam Pritchard (all of it, Pity), the show will run in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from 3 November to 16 December 2023. The current season at the Royal Court includes Hope has a Happy Meal by Tom Fowler, a frenetic quest through a hyper-capitalist country, now playing to 8 July 2023; Olivier and BAFTA Award-winning playwright Michael Wynne's new dark comedy Cuckoo, directed by Vicky Featherstone and running from 6 July to 19 August 2023; and Word-Play by Rabiah Hussain, which plays from 20 July to 26 August 2023. On 4 and 25 August 2023, the Royal Court Theatre will present two evenings of Azan Ahmed’s sell out poetry nights Deen & Dunya alongside the production of Rabiah Hussain’s Word-Play, offering music and performance to elevate and celebrate Muslim voices. January 2024 at the Royal Court sees the UK premiere of the Tony Award-winning Dana H. by Lucas Hnath, starring Tony Award-winner Deirdre O'Connell. Dana H. runs in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from 16 January to 9 March 2024. The Royal Court also announced today a new public call out for writers to submit work from their notes app. Plays from ur notes app encourages writers to share the ‘not quite finished but inspired’ ideas that live in the notes page of a phone. The call out is for new writers who have never written a full length play before and would lead to a sharing of work. Previous writers who have started their writing careers at the Court as a result of a similar programme include Tom Fowler (Hope Has A Happy Meal) and Jasmine Lee Jones (seven methods of killing kylie jenner). In September, the theatre will present the results of a new partnership between the Royal Court Theatre and Clean Break. The Playwrights Pathways will see six Clean Break members further their playwriting craft and knowledge of the theatre industry, culminating in a showcase of their work in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs. Since 1979, Clean Break has used theatre to keep the subject of women in prison on the cultural radar, helping to reveal the damage caused by the criminal justice system. Dates are still to be announced. Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre, said in a press statement: “The writers in our new programme are unified in their desire to take aim at preconceptions, stereotypes, and centres of power. Their words dismantle our understanding of the world, inviting new meanings and a stronger empathy for the communities we live in and among. In the same breath, the work is playful, dynamic, and highly imaginative. In these times we are doing everything we can to keep our work accessible, affordable and vital. Over the next six months, we are responding to audience feedback and trialing a new ticketing initiative. Our tickets that are £25 and below sell very quickly but once they are gone, we know that many of the people who buy those tickets can then not afford to see the work, and it’s essential that we continue to welcome everyone who wants to come to the theatre into the space and reduce the barrier that price presents. The hope is that the initiative will allow more people to see more performances at more affordable prices. It’s a privilege to present my final programme of work as Artistic Director of this extraordinary theatre. Very soon a new visionary will be in place and I’m sure, under their guardianship, the Court will continue to inspire, invigorate and provoke writers, theatre-makers and audiences alike.” Book tickets to Word-Play Book tickets to Imposter 22 Book tickets to Cuckoo Book tickets to Mates in Chelsea

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