THE BENCH (2006)
Comedy/drama: 40 minutes
James (m, mid 20s)
Frank (m, mid 40s)
James is feeling suicidal and his only respite from the pressures of the world is the hour he has to himself on a park bench every lunchtime. Then one day the mysterious Frank turns up and begins to unravel James’s problems in his own enigmatic way. But what is Frank’s story?
This was my first play. I’d been in a writing group in Birmingham which met fortnightly in a pub, The Old Joint Stock. Because we met in a pub the sessions were often exactly that: drinking sessions. However, one week I realised the pub had built a studio theatre upstairs and this felt to me like some kind of sign. I resolved to write a play for the studio space and try and get them to put it on.
I decided to keep it small scale: two characters and one prop – the bench of the title. After finishing an early draft I printed off the script and took it upstairs. I didn’t know anyone at the theatre but I met Ian Craddock, who ran it at the time and was also a director. He agreed to read the script and to my delight agreed to stage it alongside another one-act play, The Coach. Ian was interested in new writing and especially in the work of local writers.
So it was that The Bench had a three-night run alongside The Coach at The Old Joint Stock in early 2007. Ian and the actors enjoyed the experience so much that they wanted to take the two plays to the Edinburgh festival fringe and so in August that year they were staged at The Space @ Jury’s Inn.
“This is pared down, beautifully played theatre and writer David Hendon does a wonderful job, mixing in humour, pathos and despair. Like Beckett before him, he succinctly and often with heart-breaking accuracy reveals the absurdity of human existence: the desperate search for meaning, the individual isolation and, finally, the total breakdown in communication.”
The Scotsman, August 2007
FROM ME TO 3792 (2009)
Drama: 70 minutes
Diane (f, mid 40s)
Diane’s marriage has gone stale and she and her husband are barely communicating. When her twin sons head off to university she feels completely alone. One day she reads an article in a newspaper about women who write to death row inmates in America. She can’t understand why anyone would do this until one night, after one glass of wine too many, she finds herself signing up for membership on writetoaninmate.com. So begins a correspondence with Chuck, a murderer across the ocean, which teaches her about relationships, truth and what’s important in life.
While The Bench was on in Edinburgh, I met the actress Caroline Nash, who had been performing in the other play on the double bill, The Coach. I thought Caroline was a brilliant actress and decided to write a piece intended for her. Thankfully, she liked it.
This monologue was again directed by Ian Craddock and premiered at the Old Joint Stock in 2009. It then went to the Edinburgh festival fringe where Caroline performed it at The Space @ The Royal College of Surgeons. It then undertook a regional tour of venues including Northampton, Sutton Coldfield and Bridgnorth through Caroline’s company Next Page Productions.
“The script was very well paced; what threatened to lead nowhere transpired to be a reflection on the boredom of suburbia, the twists and emotional ride that suddenly arrive take the audience by surprise. A captivating script performed with a very special performance.”
Broadway Baby, August 2009
THE D-LIST (2016)
Comedy: 60 minutes
Jamie (m, mid 20s)
Jen (f, mid 20s)
Diana/Linda/Pam (f, early 50s)
Max (m, mid 20s)
Jamie experiences fame on a reality TV show and infamy when he swears live on Children in Need. Now with a profile and reputation, his ruthless agent, Diana, promises him he can make fortunes being a celebrity. But Jamie’s increasingly desperate attempts to remain in the public eye play havoc with his relationships with his girlfriend, Jen, and best friend, Max. As he rides the celebrity rollercoaster, Jamie must decide what really matters.
Having not written a play for a few years I was motivated to do so by a trip to the Edinburgh festival fringe in 2015. I resolved that in 2016 I was going to bring my own comedy play to the fringe.
Having written the script I wanted to be proactive by going to a producer with an actor attached. One evening I was watching The Apprentice on the BBC and saw Samuel Curry, a candidate on the show who, it transpired, was also an actor. Given that he had direct experience of reality TV I thought the irony would work for publicity purposes and contacted Sam. He agreed to read the script, liked it and became attached to the project. This helped me get a producer, Shrapnel Theatre, and we duly went to Edinburgh in the summer of 2016 where the play had 25 performances at Underbelly Med Quad.
The play was directed by Phil Croft and Sam starred alongside Helen Rose-Hampton, Jonathan Mathews and Sylvie Briggs. Theatreweekly.com voted The D-List as one of their top ten plays of 2016.
Writing The D-List and subsequently taking it to Edinburgh definitely rekindled a creative spark within me which has led to me being really productive since.
“What’s great about Hendon’s writing is that it strikes a good balance of natural and down to earth characterisations and scathing stylised comedy. The fake TV show names, and the piss-take of existing has-beens, show Hendon as a razor wit with an unmerciful aggro range. Then there are plenty of brilliant left-field one liners which don’t fail to make you laugh out loud. But Hendon can also write, among the kooky ridiculousness and the over-the-top caricatures of some characters, people who feel believable and real.”
Grumpy Gay Critic, August 2016
“David Hendon’s sharp, piquant and well-paced script is cleverly crafted with topical references that have the audiences in stitches.”
Reviews Hub, August 2016
“The show is incredibly funny, but also familiar and accurate. The brilliant cast and familiar storyline have made ‘The D-List’ our surprise hit of the Fringe.”
Theatre Weekly, August 2016
EYES TO THE WIND (2016)
Drama: 40 minutes
Daniel (m, mid 20s)
Daniel is a good man, everyone says that. A tireless charity worker, he will do anything for anyone. However, Daniel is hiding a shocking secret: a crime he committed as a child. Now, the only person aware of what he did returns in adulthood to blackmail him. Daniel is therefore forced into a moral dilemma: confess and have the truth known, pay off the blackmailer or commit another crime to cover up the first one. For the first time in his life, he must also confront who he really is.
This monologue reached the final of the 2016 Kenneth Branagh award for new drama writing in Windsor alongside two other plays.
Its overriding theme is of identity and in particular how people often hide behind a constructed identity to cover things about themselves they would rather keep private. The play looks at the nature of truth and also deals with issues of class and sexuality.
Eyes to the Wind reached the Branagh award final as I was preparing The D-List for Edinburgh and it occurred to me that Samuel Curry would be perfect to play Daniel. Again, he read the script and really liked it. We then found a brilliant director, Hannah Banister, who has subsequently been chosen as one of the Old Vic 12 for 2018.
Hannah and Sam did a wonderful job with this play and following its Windsor run it was staged at the One Festival at The Space in London in January 2017.
We have since workshopped it at The Park Theatre in London with a view to making it into a full length play. A segment of the developed work was presented at the Arcola Theatre in London as part of Bites and Scratches, an eveneing of new work, in April 2018.
“Performed at breakneck speed, the whole audience was gripped from the outset. The writing is exceptional, taking the audience on a rapid journey of twists and turns that leaves you unsure what to expect.”
Theatre Weekly, October 2016
“Writer David Hendon doesn’t give us a fleeting glimpse into a character’s life or share an isolated thought; his monologue is a self-contained thoroughly gripping piece of intrigue with plenty of subtle foreshadowing woven into the dialogue. Daniel (Samuel Curry) speaks with a smooth, undeniably upper-class accent and moves with a natural elegance. His simple, casual sportswear and gold chain seem at odds with what we assume and soon confirm of his boarding school upbringing. With Daniel's current do-gooder lifestyle, perfectly sculpted cheekbones and so-trendy-it-hurts bleach blond hair, it comes as a shock to see the cancerous imperfections to his life revealed. Everyone, it seems, is capable of hiding a dark secret.
“It’s a well-crafted tale, full of mystery and with hauntingly beautiful dialogue. Hendon successfully avoids straying into cliché and yet establishes a very plausible protagonist and background.”
View from the Gods, January 2017
SIGN OF THE TIMES (2017)
Drama (50 minutes)
Danny (m, early 20s)
Laura (f, early 20s)
Jamie (m, mid 20s)
Julie/Michelle/Sandra/Woman on bus (f, early 40s)
Ian/Simon/Barista/Barman (m, mid 20s)
Danny dreams of being a football reporter but worries his deafness will hold him back. A story about language and communication, of friendship and resilience.
I was commissioned to write Sign of the Times by Rumble Theatre, who wanted to take a play to the 2017 Edinburgh festival fringe which dealt with the issue of sign language and wider themes of communication.
This was a new departure for me because I was writing to someone else’s brief but it was an enjoyable experience and the play was well received through its performances at The Space @ on North Bridge.
It was directed by Rumble Theatre’s Alice Wordsworth and Erin Blackmore and starred James Robertson, Felicity Green, Elizabeth Ryan, James Bowen and Tobias Crownwell.
“The script refuses to let Danny fall into a lazy caricature of ‘victim’ or ‘inspiration’. This is an utterly charming story about communication and the many ways you can make yourself heard.”
Three Weeks, August 2017
“The quality of writing is the high point of this production.”
Fringe Guru, August 2017
HOME TIME (2017)
Drama (40 minutes)
Jennifer (f, mid 40s)
Jennifer is waiting for her son Matthew to come home from school… but there’s something she hasn’t mentioned.
I entered this monologue into the Kenneth Branagh award for new drama writing and reached the final for the second year running.
In some ways it could be seen as a companion piece to Eyes to the Wind as it looks at a childhood tragedy from a parent’s point of view.
It was brought to life theatrically by the director, Paula Chitty, and actor, Elizabeth George, who each injected physicality and pace into the story.
After its performance in the Branagh final at Windsor it was then part of the One Festival at The Space in London in January 2018.
“Hendon’s writing is first-class in this surprising, shocking and heart-wrenching monologue.”
Theatre Weekly, October 2017
“Home Time, written by David Hendon and directed by Paula Chitty, was a triumph. Someone sat behind me said that we should have stood to applaud and I agree… The structure is overlaid with beautifully written dialogue.”
Sardines Magazine, October 2017
“The story comes with an almighty emotional punch that carefully sidesteps the sentimental as David Hendon explores the effect of a shock tragedy on a single mother in Home Time. Waiting for her 7-year-old son to return, the mother, played with affecting depth by Elizabeth George, begins to relay the story of her life and how she came to be a parent. Hendon slowly builds the story, first by mining the frustrations of parenthood and the backstory of this little family before walking the audience through the immediate and galling aftermath of the tragedy.”
Reviews Hub, January 2018
BANANA, CRABTREE, SIMON (2018)
Drama (55 minutes)
Alan (m, early 50s)
Life is made of memories. What happens when they start to fade away?
This play came out of my desire to write about a family coping with dementia. The idea came from an exercise in a London writers’ club I’m in, run by Directors’ Cut Theatre Company. The exercise was to write a personal story four different ways, either from different character’s points of view or using different form and structure.
I found this an affecting experience and resolved to write a play based on the subject matter. The protagonist in this monologue, Alan, is given three words to remember by his doctor to test his short term memory: banana, Crabtree and Simon.
We learn about Alan’s life and family as his memories start to fade and he faces up to an uncertain future.
I sent the script to Rigmarole Productions, a new and dynamic company who had tweeted that they were looking for a new play. To my delight they liked it and wanted to produce it. CJ De Mooi was cast as Alan with Dan Phillips appointed director.
This play will received its first run at Drayton Arms Theatre in March and April 2018 and was nominated for two Off West End (OFFIE) awards for Best actor and Best New Play.
“A beautifully heart-breaking piece of theatre, I know for a fact I shall never be forgetting the time I went to see Banana Crabtree Simon.”
The Thespian’s Blog, March 2018
“David Hendon’s Banana Crabtree Simon at the Drayton Arms Theatre is a brave and thoroughly revealing insight in to the life of a dementia sufferer, bringing right to the fore all of the heartache which accompanies the disease.
David Hendon is an incredibly talented writer, and he does not disappoint with this monologue. Rather than try and write a character which embodies a holistic experience of dementia, he has instead focussed on a set of circumstances that are very personal and unique to Alan, the individual. The result is that by the end of the hour, it feels like it’s an old friend you are watching fade away, regressing to childhood.”
Theatre Weekly, March 2018
“David Hendon has written a really touching fifty-five minute monologue in Banana Crabtree Simon, which charts the course of one man’s descent into early onset dementia… It is a real testament to David’s writing skill that he has created such a believable tale with his words.”
London Theatre1, March 2018
“Hendon’s play offers the kind of emotional insight into the experience of those diagnosed with dementia and those supporting them that cannot be wrought through pamphlets. It is this kind of brave and thoughtfully crafted theatre which should in turn be supported.”
Mark Aspen, March 2018