Kathy quit acting in 2004 and turned her attention to directing plays. Since then she has taken charge of a long list of hugely varied productions, most of which are listed below.
Once A Catholic (Nov 2013 – Feb 2014)
Written by: Mary O’Malley
Tricycle Theatre, London; Royal Court, Liverpool
This “raucous comedy” is set at an all-girl Catholic school in London in 1957 as Class 5A are preparing for their final exams and the swinging sixties is starting to peek its head into society. Once A Catholic was originally written and performed in 1977 at the Royal Court and won a number of awards leading to a two-year West End run before being revived in 2009 by the Lost Theatre Company.
The play follows Mary Mooney and her friends as they encounter nightmare nuns, teddy boys and sin. Stylistically, it takes place as a play-within-a-play as Mary and friends dress up and act as their elders-and-betters.
Dying for It (Mar – Apr 2007)
Written by: Moira Buffini
Almeida Theatre, London
A free adaptation of classic comedy The Suicide (a play banned by Stalin before a single performance) Dying for It centres on Semyon, unemployed, living in the hallway and watching his wife Masha slave all the hours God sends. When his last hope to earn money and gain self-respect disappears, he decides to take his own life. Word gets out and Semyon finds himself inundated with visitors begging him to die on their behalf. On the night he is to shoot himself they hold a party, at which point events spiral to a climax.
Smaller (Feb – May 2006)
Written by: Carmel Morgan
Milton Keynes Theatre; Theatre Royal, Brighton; Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham; Lyric Theatre, London
Smaller is a musical play and tells the story of Bernice Clulow (Dawn French), a teacher and the life and soul of the staff room, who looks after her disabled mother Maureen, with some difficulty. Bernice’s sister, Cath (Alison Moyet) wanted to be a singer but has found herself singing karaoke for hen parties on the Costa del Sol. Over the course of the play, the two sisters are forced to face their own guilt, resentment and fear.
The God of Hell (Oct – Dec 2005)
Written by: Sam Shepard
Donmar Theatre, London
Described by the author Sam Shepard as “a take-off on Republican fascism”, this uncompromising black comedy was written just before the last presidential elections. Frank and Emma are American dairy farmers, alone in the Mid-West. Nothing ever happens. Nothing has happened for years. But now there’s a mysterious man hiding in their basement and a government official has come knocking at their door.
The Quare Fellow (May – Jul 2005)
Written by: Brendan Behan
Tricycle Theatre, London
A second run of the play following its successful rebirth by Kathy Burke and the Oxford Stage Company last year, with all but one of the earlier cast signed up. Based on the famous Irish writer’s own experience in a borstal and several British prisons,The Quare Fellow was Behan’s first play and takes place over the last 24 hours before a prisoner’s execution. It’s a dark and humourous look at life inside prison, with music, following inmates and wardens as they carry out their rituals.
Blue/Orange (Feb – Mar 2005)
Written by: Joe Penhall
Crucible Theatre, Sheffield; Theatre Royal, Northampton; Theatre Royal, Brighton; Arts Theatre, Cambridge
Taking place in a London psychiatric hospital, Christopher claims he’s the son of the late Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin and that oranges are blue. This baffling young man becomes a human punchbag in the battle between two psychiatrists. Set against the backdrop of a crumbling National Health Service, Joe Penhall’s edgy comedy examines the unspoken politics of institutions, challenges assumptions about ‘normality’ and questions whether ‘sanity’ is dependent on the colour of your skin..
Love Me Tonight (Oct – Nov 2004)
Written by: Nick Stafford
Hampstead Theatre, London
As a family gather for the funeral of the youngest son there’s a strong whiff of tension in the air. Dad has a plan that involves early retirement and a camper van whilst Mum wants to finish off what she started 18 years ago. Buckets of red wine collide with Deep Tissue Therapy and Dysfunctionality as the family struggles to discover where things went wrong.
The Quare Fellow (Feb – May 2004)
Written by: Brendan Behan
Liverpool Playhouse; Oldham Coliseum; Citizens Theatre, Glasgow; Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmonds; Oxford Playhouse; York Theatre Royal; Tricycle Theatre, London
Based on the famous Irish writer’s own experience in a borstal and several British prisons, The Quare Fellow was Behan’s first play and takes place over the last 24 hours before a prisoner’s execution. It’s a dark and humourous look at life inside prison, with music, following inmates and wardens as they carry out their rituals. This tour is the 50th anniversary production.
Born Bad (Apr – May 2003)
Written by: Debbie Tucker Green
Hampstead Theatre, London
Dawta wants the family to talk. But they have never talked like this before. Once this conversation starts nobody leaves. Born Bad dives headlong into the powerful heart of this family unleashing wit, ferocity and verbal dexterity along the way. ‘The bits don’t make the bulk and the bulk don’t mek the whole and the all a your bits together don’t make your versions true.’
Betty (Jul – Sep 2002)
Written by: Karen McLachlan
Vaudeville Theatre, London
A dark comedy featuring devout yet repressed middle-aged woman Betty, who finds strange and wonderful pleasure on her 49th birthday by sitting on the washing machine during a spin cycle. Betty then embarks on a bizarre pilgrimage with unexpected consequences in a desperate attempt to wean herself off the mechanical marvel’s alluring vibrations.
Kosher Harry (Apr – May 2002)
Written by: Nick Grosso
Royal Court Theatre, London
Gathered in a kosher bar in North London are a foulmouthed cabbie, who can’t stop blubbing, an old woman in a wheelchair, who hears only what she chooses to, and the world’s worst waitress, wearing nothing but her smalls. Joining them is a man with no name who takes them on at their own game. Combining the restraint of Beckett’s dialogue with the grotesque world of a Berkoff, Grosso’s play is a sustained black comedy that pushes stereotypes to the absolute limit, and then brings them back to reality again. Reviews
Tony’s ready to live again. Love and live it large. But his efforts to step back onto the scene are hampered by a secret his friends, Monica and Kevin, should have told him a long time ago. Out In The Open is a funny and caustic exploration of love and the limits of friendship, set over a long, hazily-hot summer weekend in London.
Boom Bang-a-Bang (Jul 1995)
Written by: Jonathan Harvey
Bush Theatre, London
Lee’s Kentish Town flat on Eurovision night 1995 and his first Eurovision party since the death of his lover Michael. The air of joyous campery leavens the hang-ups of the half-dozen guests, each in the grip of a crisis: babbling Roy’s drug problem, Nick and Tania’s stressed relationship and Lee’s paralysed mourning.
Mr Thomas (1986)
Written by: Kathy Burke
Old Red Lion, London
A play written by Kathy when she was 22, Mr Thomas tells the tale of a closet homosexual in London.