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Dead Hands
On Tour Autumn 2004

Death can also transform the living…

A young man learns that his father is dying. He drives furiously to reach the bedside. But he arrives too late. The dead man's mistress shows him to the room where the body lies and leaves him to his grief. His younger brother appears. He was present at the death but his attitude is strangely ambiguous. He seems reluctant to engage with his elder brother, who immediately suspects him of a secret...

How far did the dead man plan these encounters? Are the actions and thoughts of the bereaved all part of an elaborate scheme thought up by the dying man? And what are the mistress' intentions towards the surviving sons?

Suspense, suspicion and paranoia build in Howard Barker's erotic and disturbing new play in which sexual fantasy veers from casual adventure into inescapable servitude. Powerful poetic language, provocative ideas and rich, dark humour build a shocking yet compelling exploration of bereavement and sexual imagination.

Dead Hands is an intimately emotional piece about the experience of death in a family. It shows how the silence of the recently died can provoke a strained and bitter dialogue among the survivors. Barker's plays have often celebrated the secret. Here the secrets of the dead inspire extreme speculation. Should we fear death not for itself but for the fate that it inflicts on the survivors? The legacy of death is not only a dispensing of property but also of emotion, pain and a remembered life. If death is the last great secret, then those who witness it must surely be drawn into its mystery?

Dead Hands is directed by Howard Barker in the company's distinctive style, working with the team that created the highly successful productions of 13 Objects, Gertrude, and He Stumbled.

"A play about dying that makes you feel a lttle baffled but strangely pleased
to be alive...Tantalisingly ripe and juicy to the end..
       Birmingham Post

Warning: This play contains nudity, explicit language and extreme moral speculation.


Photos on this page by Robert Workman


Oct Fri 15 - Sat 23
Matinee Sat 16 and Thu 21 Oct
Post Show Discussion on 15th

Birmingham Rep (The Door)   0121 245 2000

Oct Wed 27

Loughborough University Arts Centre    01509 222899

Nov Tue 1 - Sun 14
Matinee Sat 13th
Post Show Discussion on 5th

London Riverside Studios 020 8237 1111

Nov Tue 16
Post Show Discussion on 16th

Brighton Gardner Centre 01273 685881

Nov Thur 18

Fareham Ashcroft Arts Centre  01329 235161

Nov Fri 19- Sat 20
Post Show Discussion on 19th

Poole Lighthouse 01202 665334

Nov Mon 22- Wed 24
Pre-show talk by Howard Barker on 23th

Colchester Mercury Theatre  01206 573948

Supported by Arts Council England