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‘This had to happen now’: Lucy Kirkwood on Maryland, her 30-minute ‘howl’ of a play

Galvanised by the killings of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard, the playwright tells how she penned the eviscerating drama in just two days

It usually takes Lucy Kirkwood two years to write a play, crafting and honing meticulously before sending it out to be staged. Maryland was a very different proposition: described as a “howl” by Kirkwood, it is an eviscerating 30-minute drama written in just two days. The trigger was Sabina Nessa’s killing but its themes of male sexual violence and terror towards women had been percolating in Kirkwood’s mind for the past decade and gathered urgency after Sarah Everard’s rape and murder by a police officer in March.

She had not been commissioned to write it but simply felt compelled to do so earlier this month when she sent it pinging into the inbox of the Royal Court Theatre in London. Days later, its artistic director, Vicky Featherstone, had programmed a run which sold out so quickly that it is now due to be extended. “It had been in my head for years as sketches and lines but Sabina Nessa’s death compounded everything and galvanised me – I felt like this had to happen now,” says Kirkwood, who sits in a backroom of the theatre in a Zoom call with Featherstone, Milli Bhatia and Lucy Morrison, who are co-directing it together.

Maryland is at the Royal Court Theatre until 23 October.

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