The week after Thanksgiving.
A bed and breakfast in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A cheerful innkeeper. A young couple struggling to stay together. Thousands of inanimate objects, watching.
John, an uncanny play by Annie Baker, was first seen Off-Broadway in 2015. The play had its UK premiere at the National Theatre, London, in 2018, in a production directed by James Macdonald.
Annie Baker’s other plays include Pulitzer Prize-winning The Flick, The Antipodes, Circle Mirror Transformation, The Aliens, and an adaptation of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. She has won many other awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Grant.
‘Annie Baker is one of the most singular talents in modern theatre… what the play does, remarkably, is use the trappings of a spooky thriller to explore universal emotions: above all the need to escape the sense of solitary confinement inside our own skins… there is something about John – as you often find in Pinter – that is not susceptible to rational analysis and that only adds to its teasing fascination’
‘A hypnotic, thrillingly audacious portrait of humanity… teeming with surprises and oddball mysteries… it’s also brilliantly funny. Baker has a supreme gift for presenting social awkwardness in all its excruciatingly unhurried glory’
— Broadway World
‘An eerie and spellbinding odyssey into human loneliness’
‘Utterly remarkable, virtually unclassifiable… there’s an ocean of meaning behind each moment… a rich, strange and idiosyncratic play, unnerving and heartwarming in equal measures, that journeys wonderingly to the fringes of the human soul’
— Time Out
‘Annie Baker is the laureate of lost souls and – in a manner that feels quietly defiant in these attention-deficit days – she gives her characters the time to pause and register the awkwardness of failing to know what to say or just to sit in ruminative silence… quirkily funny and disquieting… John has many of the trappings of a ghost story but what makes it truly haunting is the way it avoids outright scariness and instead lays stress on characters whose loneliness and various disappointments in making connection lead us to reflect on what may lie beyond rationality’
‘It’s intricate, complex, profound, delivered at Baker’s hallmark painstaking pace, hyper-realism rubbing up against the supernatural. It’s about history and narrative, truth and lies, faith, ghosts, God and love… it is wildly stimulating, the wealth of possibilities beneath its unhurried surface dizzying, and as rich and mysterious as life itself. It connects with a deep, elemental fear and wonderment that is at the heart of humanity – the kind of awe you experience gazing into a limitless night sky’
— The Stage
‘A brave, magnificent play… behind the intense naturalism, the long silences, the way conversations unravel slowly as in life, there is audacious artistry and careful craft… Baker’s dialogue seems to be simple but her words drop like stones in a pond, the ripples reverberating. They are both psychologically revealing and poetic… Like other great American dramatists such as Edward Albee and Eugene O’Neill before her, Baker makes the domestic universal, asking existential questions about the nature of being within a confined setting. Yet her voice and methods are entirely original… John is rich and magical, something special’
For a study guide from State Theatre Company South Australia click here.