Theatre Royal Bath Arcola Theatre

Fifty Words

Michael Weller

Directed by: Laurence Boswell

“It’s a stupid word, “love.” There should be fifty words for it, like Eskimos have for snow.”

Brooklyn, New York

Adam is a successful architect. His wife, Jan is preparing to start an online company. Their beloved nine year-old son is away on his first sleepover.

This will be the first evening they’ve has to themselves in years. Time to crack open the champagne, devour a Chinese meal and get down to rekindling the fires of passion…But this is one extraordinary night that will change Adam and Jan’s marriage forever.

This is a married couple who know exactly which buttons to press and Fifty Words portrays their relationship with searing honesty and in beautifully observed and amusing detail.

The second in a trilogy, Fifty Words originally opened off-Broadway in 2008 and was nominated for several Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Play. Michael Weller’s other work includes Milos Foreman’s film Ragtime (Academy Award nomination), the film adaptation of the musical Hair and What the Night is For at the Comedy Theatre West End, starring Gillian Anderson.

Director Laurence Boswell’s other work as director includes: Ben Elton’s Popcorn, This is Our Youth (with Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal, Up for Grabs (with Madonna) and Hamlet at the Young Vic starring Paul Rhys.

Production photography by Jane Hobson


“Richard Clothier and Claire Price give two of the most compelling and upsetting performances of the year, Weller nails things about all our lives with deadly precision. This is a wild, wise and wonderful piece of theatre, a modern Strindbergian classic” ★★★★ Whatsonstage (24 June)

“Laurence Boswell’s physically and emotionally unrelenting production draws compelling performances from Claire Price and Richard Clothier” ★★★ Metro

“Michael Weller’s grippingly merciless dissection of modern matrimony takes no prisoners… Price and Clothier are pitch perfect…this unsparing production gets under your skin and stays there” ★★★★ Time Out

“Full-frontal assault of a brutal picking-apart of a marriage, sensitively directed by Laurence Boswell. (Claire) Price is outstanding” ★★★ Evening Standard

“Claire Price and Richard Clothier giving their all with superbly convincing performance, this is a powerful, shocking and moving piece that deserves to be seen” British Theatre Guide

“Honest, compelling and challenging in equal measure…well observed and Astute, Skilfully directed and staged by Laurence Boswell, this play is certainly arresting, true to life, and definitely worth an evening of your time.” ★★★★ The Public Reviews

“This stunning play(s) brilliance is in the detail. Claire Price as Janine and Richard Clothier, Adam master this piece. Microscopic directorial precision from Boswell makes it a captivating piece of theatre, displaying many home truths” Whatsonstage ★★★★

“Claire Price and Richard Clothier give tremendously moving performances….Fifty Words is an emotional rollercoaster, with twists and turns in abundance – a rollercoaster the audience is utterly in awe of but would willingly ride again!” The Public Reviews ★★★★★

“Unflinching portrayal of the emotional and psychological bludgeoning… Their story is so engrossing that you feel almost affronted at being asked to depart this world you were allowed to inhabit for just under two hours.” Exuent ★★★★

“The structure is faultless, mesmerising the audience as it runs the gamut of every conceivable emotion, with no single blame attached to anything but the human condition itself. Irrational behaviour, rage, reason, love and hate are explored with clever sensitivity” The Stage

“Searing, superb and exquisitely intricate performances from Richard Clothier and Claire Price. … acting this good ensures you can’t drag your eyes away from the carnage.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian ★★★

“Love and loathing intermingle in this blisteringly honest portrait” Matt Trueman, The Telegraph ★★★★

“I came away from this performance feeling as if I’d witnessed something special; as if these two characters were somehow familiar to me. I’ve never been married, American or middle-aged, but it truly didn’t matter.” Emily Derbyshire, Playstosee ★★★★★

Monday – Saturday at 7:30pm – £18 (£14 concessions)

Opening performances (19 – 26 June) – all tickets £14

Saturday matinees at 2:30pm (22, 29 June; 6, 13, 20 July) – £16 (£12 concessions)

Pay What You Can Tuesdays

Valid for use with Arcola Passport

Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes (no interval)