England’s National Theatre in hot water over new play

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 21 2001 11:00 PM ET

The Royal National Theatre in London has drawn the ire of the religious right by scheduling the latest effort of playwright Mark Ravenhill (Shopping and Fucking) to open September 4, according to 365Gay.com. Ravenhill’s new play, Mother Clap’s Molly House, is set in a gay meeting place, or “molly house,” in 18th-century London. The chairman of the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group, Gerald Howarth, stated, “Putting it on at our National with taxpayers’ money seems to me to be designed to affront traditional family values,” while the director of Mediawatch U.K., John Beyer, declared, “What goes on at the National is the face of modern Britain, and I think people will be very surprised.” The National Theatre had heretofore been acquiring a reputation for staging plays considered too safe or commercial. Playwright Ravenhill admits that in his new play “there is sodomy, but I think National audiences can probably take sodomy on the chin, if that’s where you take it.”