‘They say Pericles caught democracy from you in bed.’
Today, Socrates is revered as the founding father of Western philosophy. But in 399 BC Athens, he was a pain in the neck.
The plague is over, democracy is (just about) restored, and everyone would like to get back to normal. How hard is it for one ageing firebrand to stop asking questions? It’s time to shut him up…
Based on eyewitness accounts, Howard Brenton’s Cancelling Socrates is a provocative and witty play about an uncompromising voice in dangerous times. It was premiered at Jermyn Street Theatre, London, in June 2022, directed by the venue’s Artistic Director Tom Littler.
‘A fascinating chamber play, an inspired combination of ancient and modern, high-flown rhetoric and gutter speech’
— The Times
‘A sly, smartly written new play that explores the limits of free speech and moral absolutism’
— The Stage
‘A cerebrally comedic look at the cryptic personality of Socrates and his ironic, deftly challenging approach to the law and life itself… a gripping and surprisingly funny play’
— Broadway World
‘A rich play of ideas… Brenton’s script combines the ancient and modern so well that everyday profanities sit next to talk of slaves (ever so subtly ironised) and big philosophical ideas to create sparky, bathetic moments… [there are] clear, clever parallels to today… arresting and fiercely intelligent’
‘Howard Brenton’s [play] looks delightfully like Up Pompeii! and has plenty of smart things to say… a buzzy hive of intellectual activity, swarming with witty repartee… asking big questions about faith and existence, the individual and the state, with the lightest of touches… a resonant warning from antiquity’
‘Smart and sparkily topical… a sharp interrogation of the dangers of easy certainties’
— Financial Times