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A co-production with Steppenwolf Theatre Company

a new play by Bruce Norris

From 12 March to 27 April 2019
Running Time: 2 hours 25 mins, including one interval


In downstate Illinois, four men convicted of sex crimes against minors share a group home where they live out their lives in the shadow of the offences they committed. A man shows up to confront his childhood abuser — but does he want closure or retribution?

This provocative new play zeroes in on the limits of our compassion and what happens when society deems anyone beyond forgiveness.

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, Bruce Norris’ (Clybourne Park, The Low Road) new play, directed by Pam MacKinnon, comes to the National Theatre direct from its premiere at Steppenwolf, Chicago.

Content Advisory

Please note: This production discusses and contains graphic descriptions of child abuse and rape, there is also reference to drug use and self-harm that some people may find distressing. If you require further information, contact details are provided in our online Help centre.
If you have been affected by any issues raised in the production, the following charities offer free support:
NAPAC - Offers support to adult survivors and training for those who support them.
MIND - Provides support and advice to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. 


Talks and events

Director Pam MacKinnon and Writer Bruce Norris Fri 15 March, 6pm
Playwriting at the NT with Bruce Norris Sat 16 March, 10.30am
Questioning Justice with Helena Kennedy Wed 27 March, 6pm
Forgiving the Unforgiveable Wed 24 April, 6pm

4 star rating

Blazingly acted, intellectually rigorous. A must-see play.

Chicago Tribune

A great, moral-thrill-ride of a play.

New York Times

Downstate | Audience reactions

Downstate is a provocative new play that zeroes in on the limits of our compassion and what happens when society deems anyone beyond forgiveness. Here's what audiences during the original US run of the play thought.

More info

Downstate ticket prices and Access performances

Ticket prices

Monday - Thursday eves, all matinees
£50 - £15
Friday & Saturday eves
£55 - £18
Ways to save
Previews 12 - 19 March

£37 - £15

Access Performances

Audio-described performances, for blind and visually impaired people:
Fri 12 April, 7.30pm
Sat 13 April, 2.30pm preceded by a Touch Tour

Smart caption glasses

Smart caption glasses are a revolutionary new way for people with hearing loss to enjoy performances at the National Theatre. For the first time, service users can experience our productions, including this one, from any seat in any theatre.

Find out about Smart caption glasses

People wearing Smart Caption Glasses at a performance in the theatre