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When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other

12 Variations on Samuel Richardson’s Pamela
a new play by Martin Crimp

16 January - 2 March 2019
Running Time: Approx. 2hr without an interval

When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other

‘Go on then: lock the doors and see what happens. Show me how much power you really have.’

This new play breaks through the surface of contemporary debate to explore the messy, often violent nature of desire and the fluid, complicated roles that men and women play.

Using Samuel Richardson’s novel, Pamela, as a provocation, six characters act out a dangerous game of sexual domination and resistance.

The production reunites Martin Crimp (Attempts on her Life, In the Republic of Happiness) and director Katie Mitchell (Waves, Cleansed). Cate Blanchett makes her National Theatre debut alongside Stephen Dillane, who returns to the National Theatre for the first time since The Coast of Utopia in 2002.

Content advisory

Please note: This production contains adult themes, violence and scenes of a sexual nature that some people may find distressing. If you require further information, contact details are provided in our Help centre.



4 star rating

Radical. Refreshing. Brilliant.

4 star rating

A brave, unflinching production.

4 star rating

There is so much to explore in this complex, complicated, atypical work.


What is Samuel Richardson's Pamela?

Martin Crimp on reading Richardson’s Pamela

A 15-year-old servant (Pamela) is approached by the master of the house (Mr B), who solicits her for sex. She resists and he abducts her. Encouraged by his housekeeper (Mrs Jewkes), he tries and fails to rape her. More twists and turns ensue, they realise they’re in love, they marry.

This is the plot of Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, whose anonymous publication in London on 6 November 1740 was an immediate and scandalous success. By 1742 it had already gone through six editions, and a 15th edition appeared in 1810. Widely translated, it also formed the basis of plays by Voltaire – Nanine, ou le préjugé vaincu (1749) – and Goldoni – Pamela nubile (1750) and Pamela maritata (1760).

(Find the full article by playwright Martin Crimp, as well as further writing by Amia Srinivasan on the politics of desire, in the play programme for When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other available at the NT Bookstore)

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Production team

Photography (Cate Blanchett and Stephen Dillane) by Gillian Hyland.

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