Main Stage

A Hampstead Theatre Production


By Simon Paisley Day

Directed by Edward Hall

17 October - 23 November

Archived £14.50 - £32
‘I sometimes wonder how on earth people as pathetic as you and me are allowed to start a family. It’s far more dangerous than driving a car, and yet there’s not a single test...’




Briony and Keith are not finding parenthood easy so their friends, the delightful Ross and Rosy, engineer a relaxing weekend away in Wales: intelligent adult company, good food and drink, complete rest – and absolutely no children.

But making up the numbers by inviting the unpredictable Charles and Serena doesn’t make things restful. Add an uninvited anarchic adolescent and a fanatical farmer and Briony and Keith’s idyllic weekend erupts into total chaos…

Simon Paisley Day makes his Hampstead Main Stage debut. His new comedy is an uproarious study of modern parenting and matrimonial tribulations. Previous theatre credits include Spike (Nuffield Theatre, Southampton), The Country Doctor (National Theatre Platform) and a translation of Bruckner’s The Pains of Youth (BAC).

Hampstead Theatre’s Artistic Director Edward Hall directs following the sell-out hit Chariots of Fire last year (Hampstead and West End).

Sarah Hadland reunites with Robert Webb following three series of That Mitchell and Webb Look. Other television credits include Miranda and Burton and Taylor. Previous theatre credits include Canvas (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Decor Without Production (Royal Court).

Tamzin Outhwaite (EastEnders and New Tricks) returns to Hampstead following the critically acclaimed Di and Viv ad Rose last spring. Other theatre credits include Sweet Charity and Boeing Boeing (West End).

BAFTA winner Robert Webb makes his Hampstead Theatre debut. He is best known for his comedy work as writer and actor, including Peep Show, That Mitchell and Webb Look and Fresh Meat. His stage credits include Fat Pig (West End).



Simon Paisley Day’s new, adult comedy Raving made me laugh as hard as One Man, Two Guvnors did.

Just like that hit show, this one set off my wheezy chest. Oxygen for the man from the Mail in row K, pronto!

Raving is quite rude. There is lots of swearing, stuff about sex, and a breast-milk scene which may have you gagging.

At one point a Hoorayish ex-SAS officer (played brilliantly by Nicholas Rowe) relieves himself in a kitchen sink, blithely dismissive of other people in the room. That was the moment my asthma kicked in.

A minxy 17-year-old girl (Bel Powley) keeps flashing her boobs at the back wall. Add jokes about a disabled boy losing his virginity, a dollop of anti-Welshness, plus a certain levity about drugs.

It is not a show you would automatically want to select next time you are looking to entertain Sister Wendy for the evening — or, for that matter, your sub-teen children. But this play is fresh, witheringly cruel about London professional couples, and honkingly funny.

Mr Paisley Day, until now better known as an actor, uses the old device of a weekend in the country. Wales. Remote Wales, moreover.

The city types who gather at their rented weekend cottage find that mobile phone coverage is patchy. In a moment of life imitating satire, people either side of me checked their mobiles during the first half. Londoners really are wedded to their darn BlackBerries.

Back to the plot. London PR man Ross (Robert Webb) and his taut-bottomed wife Rosy (Sarah Hadland) have booked the cottage. Ross and Rosy pride themselves on being a perfect couple. Ghastly people often do.

Their weekend guests are Left-wing losers Briony (Tamzin Outhwaite) and Keith (Barnaby Kay), plus howling Hoorays Serena and Charles (Mr Rowe).

Serena is played by Issy van Randwyck. Hello, I thought at first, Miss van Randwyck is the wife of Edward Hall, who runs the Hampstead and directs this show. The Hall family has sometimes been a bit prey to nepotism.

But Miss van Randwyck, with her Felicity Kendal voice and startled-Womble hairdo in the second half, is an utter treat as boozy, politically-incorrect Serena. She and Mr Rowe are comedy gold.

This is a play about the self-destruction of control freaks (i.e. Ross) and the life-enhancing possibilities of libertarian loonies such as Serena and Charles.

The emotionally and sexually constipated couple, Briony and Keith, slowly have their anxieties ironed out by, well, the chaos of everything. It could almost be Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s answer to Withnail & I.

Jonathan Fensom’s set offers us the occasional glimpse of Welsh countryside — when the rain is not pelting down outside.

There is a repeated joke about the lack of space in one of the bedrooms — a door which you can open only a few inches before it hits a bed. Anyone who has rented a cottage in Pembrokeshire may recognise this habitual truth.

Raving is, at one point literally, a blast.

, , Daily Mail


Raving: Press Night photos

Taken by Jon Holloway

Raving: ★★★★★ from Daily Mail

By Quentin Letts

Ham & High: Robert Webb interview

Ham & High's Alex Bellotti interviews Robert Webb

Raving: Production photos

Taken by Manuel Harlan

YOUR interview with Raving's Robert Webb

We gave our online followers the opportunity to ask Robert Webb any questions they wanted – and the tweets came in thick and fast! We grilled him with our 12 favourites about everything from R…

'I’m going to write and I’m going to act' - interview with Simon Paisley Day

Hampstead Theatre’s Features Editor, Susie Benson, talks to Raving Writer Simon Paisley Day about new writing, acting and and sheer bloody-mindedness… It is what all writers hope for a…

YOUR interview with Robert Webb: submit questions now

Have you ever wanted to ask Robert Webb anything? Well here’s your chance… Robert Webb is best known for his comedy work as writer and actor, including eight series of Peep Show, That …

The Observer: Sarah Hadland interview

The Observer's Liz Hoggard interviews Raving's Sarah Hadland

Raving: In rehearsals

Photos taken by Manuel Harlan

Raving: Behind the scenes at the photo shoot

Behind the scenes at the Raving marketing shoot with Robert Webb and Sarah Hadland

Raving: Full casting announced

Robert Webb and Sarah Hadland join Tamzin Outhwaite

Video: Edward Hall introduces autumn season

Hampstead Theatre’s Artistic Director, Edward Hall, introduces the 2013 Autumn Season.

Autumn season now on sale