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Connections 2023: (Circle Dreams Around) The Terrible, Terrible Past

by Simon Longman

A young person in a blue and red light effect covers one eye with their hand, and looks directly forward. The image is softly refracted around the edges. The National Theatre logo is written at the top of the image in white text. The play title and name of writer are written across the bottom of the image in white.

Performed by Ilkley Players Greenroom, West Yorkshire

A play about being young in the fields and towns that feel far away from where things might be happening; a play about the expectations of life and the circularity of human existence. Someone has a recurring dream. It’s a bit weird. There are fish, chickens, cows, who all look and sound like people – people who look kind of familiar. And there’s a butcher, killing people. And the dream feels like a circle – going round and round and back to the start again. They can’t get free of it – it’s like a line eating its own arse.

Which means we’re stuck in their dream too, watching it with them. We see the fields and rivers they visit in the half light. And raves they’ve been to with people jumping out of the windows and losing their legs. And the careers advisor from school advising jobs like being a water carrier, or a chimney sweep, or a candlestick maker or a fishmonger. They dream about the past mainly, a past that they don’t belong to but the past wants to belong to them. It’s forcing its way inside, so that their future looks like the past.

See? It’s a bit weird. It always starts with someone selling someone some crabs and it all gets progressively surreal from there. And there doesn’t seem to be any way out.

Tuesday 20 June 2023, 7pm

Tickets on sale from 11am, Friday 19 May
£5 for one performance
£8 when you book for Circle Dreams Around and Old Times by Molly Taylor in the same order

Book tickets

Dorfman Theatre
National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX
Get directions


Content guidance

  • Recommended for ages 14+
  • Strong language.
  • A brief reference to substance abuse.
  • One brief, mildly sexually explicit conversation.
  • The following are seen within the context of a dream: a dead body covered in blood, and weapons including an axe, a meat cleaver and a bolt gun.

Assisted performance

This performance will be Captioned

Our Funders

The Mohn Westlake Foundation supports nationwide Learning programmes for young people.

Connections is supported by The Mohn Westlake Foundation, Buffini Chao Foundation, The EBM Charitable Trust, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Katie Bradford Arts Trust, Susan Miller & Byron Grote, Mulberry Trust, Tuixen Foundation, The Peter Cundill Foundation, The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Woodward Charitable Trust and The John Thaw Foundation.

Nationwide learning is supported by Buffini Chao Foundation, Clore Duffield Foundation, Tim & Sarah Bunting, MFPA Trust Fund for the Training of Disabled Children in the Arts, Behrens Foundation, Cleopatra Trust, and The Andor Charitable Trust .

Find out more about supporting our work