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Remembrance Monday will run its exclusive World Premiere at Seven Dials Playhouse from 23 April to 1 June. Written by the critically acclaimed playwright Michael Batten (who also wrote and starred in Self Tape), the play centres on the lives of a devoted gay couple, Julius and Connor. With the action staged in a bathroom, the play unfolds into a thrilling drama, and Michael is keen to tell us how excited he is about the production, even though he can’t provide us with any spoilers.

Remembrance Monday by Michael Batten. 

Apologies to every reader in advance. I promise I’m not intentionally being dicky and cryptic, nor am I attempting to cultivate an enigmatic and mysterious ‘author’ persona when writing below about my forthcoming play Remembrance Monday – there are some spoilers I’m forbidden to give away in advance of its world premiere at the Seven Dials Playhouse in April, which may account for me being a little vague here and there. Believe me, I am so ridiculously excited about this run that it’s taking everything I have to not divulge every plot twist and micro-gesture…

As you can see from the title of the work, the idea of memory, and indeed shared memories, is a thread woven throughout this play. How a couple’s differing memories of the same event can be drastically divergent, how our own memories can morph into and coalesce with other moments with the passage of time forming something very different, and how one moment when viewed again and again (and again) can begin to acquire different hues and tones.

Ultimately, asking the question: What are we if not a collection of every memory we have made?

Enter Julius and Connor. Late thirty-somethings who have been together for well over a dozen years. We join them as they navigate a shared life now replete with in-jokes, their daily routines rich in the mundanities and trivialities of everyday life, in a relationship now deeply bedded-in, and very happily so. My previous play, the 2023 monodrama Self Tape, tracked the life of Jonas Harland, whose partner was woefully distant, with this distance ultimately preempting some deeply disturbing consequences. With Remembrance Monday, I wanted to explore the opposite – a couple who find comfort and bliss in the predictability of their shared lives, existing almost as a single unit.

This is not to say that obstacles don’t arise throughout the course of this play’s 70+ minutes; believe me, they do, but I wanted to explore the life and world of a couple boringly and gorgeously devoted in love. Moments of flashback peppered throughout the play propel us to their first date, their wedding, and other seminal moments as we witness the events that cemented the bond we see before us.  

Remembrance Monday is a gay play at Seven Dials Playhouse in London.
Remembrance Monday (Photo Danny Kaan. Image supplied).

The action plays out in a bathroom. Staying with the aquatic theme, this room acts as the diving board that launches us into an exploration of memories of the past. To me, the bathroom in a house is the place where we are all at our most unvarnished, our most truthful, and, of course, naked, literally and metaphorically. Only the most intimate in our lives are permitted to enter our domestic bathroom with us, making it the perfect springboard from which to interrogate the nature of truth and reality. The water of the bath (and indeed the bath itself: part womb, part shelter, part cocoon) provides a soothing escape from the trauma of contemplating a life that now may not be what it had once appeared. 

Self Tape
Michael Batten in Self Tape.

As much as I enjoyed writing and performing the role of Jonas in Self Tape, it was wonderfully freeing and edifying to be able to create roles I had no immediate intention of performing. I was free to conjure these characters as if out of thin air, listening only to my gut instinct with regard to what they would say, how they would react, and where the play would take them. Every day, when I would pick up from where I had left off the day before, I looked forward to seeing where that day of writing would take these two people I’d steadily grown to love. Their mannerisms and ways of speaking soon became second nature to me, and I would catch myself saying to myself, “No, Connor wouldn’t say it like that,” or “Julius isn’t that kind of guy”. 

Then came the audition process as we began the search for our Julius and Connor, and I was now on the other side of the casting table. Though that feeling could (and maybe should, now that I think of it) inspire a whole play of its own, the wealth of talent that came to read for the roles made me feel like I was opening a treasure chest full of the most amazing jewels. Not only did we have to make sure we had the right performers for each role, we had to make sure they themselves ‘worked’ on stage as a couple. I am so, so delighted with the results as we found two phenomenally talented actors, Nick Hayes and Matthew Stathers. I am beyond excited for you all to step into Julius and Connor’s world, and the world of Remembrance Monday.

– Michael Batten – 

Tickets for Remembrance Monday: https://www.sevendialsplayhouse.co.uk/shows/remembrance-monday

Remembrance Monday runs from 23 April to 1 June at Seven Dials Playhouse, 1A Tower Street, London WC2H 9NP, United Kingdom.

Remembrance Monday is a gay play in London.

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