The Development of Denouement

John Morton submitted Denouement for our very first New Playwrights Programme in 2017 and by the end of the first page I knew we were onto something special.  It simply leapt off the page, in a voice that was utterly original, compelling and very exciting.  Our selection panel loved it and felt that, rather than putting the play into development through our New Playwrights Programme, we just had to commission him right away.  Since then, we’ve had several development workshops and readings of the play with different casts, and all the team have built a great working relationship with John.

The play is essentially a close study of a relationship put under the ultimate strain and we’ve enjoyed drilling down into the subtleties and minutiae of the dynamic between these two lively characters.  We were thrilled when the Traverse agreed to co-produce the play with us with the wonderful Gareth Nicholls directing, and were so looking forward to further developing, rehearsing and premiering Denouement at the Edinburgh Fringe this year.  Until we can open our doors to audiences once more, we really hope you enjoy this audio recorded reading.

We put some quick fire questions to John about the development of this brilliant play.


Despite being eerily of the moment, you wrote the first draft of Denouement several years ago in pandemic-free times – what sparked the idea?

It arrived fully formed as a scenario, two people in the last few minutes of all time and the absurdity around tying up any loose ends that may remain in that scenario. So that was the kernel of it and then I thought it might be a nice idea if they had been married for many years and were suddenly confronted by all the things that might go unsaid.


Do you always have a clear plan of where the idea is going to go when you sit down to write?

Sometimes I do. I like to have an idea of where to end up but getting there is where most of the fun is.


How did it feel to be back in a rehearsal room, especially under the current circumstances?

It felt strange but also completely natural in a way. I think because I appreciated it so much more I just wanted to dive into that experience, even for a short while. Being in rooms and talking to people and working. It was a rare treat when you’ve missed it for so long.


Denouement will be presented as an audio recorded rehearsed reading from Mon 7th – Sun 20th Sept.  It is a co-production by the Lyric Theatre and the Traverse Theatre.  Find out more about the reading and how to listen here.