New Perspectives and The Brighton Festival presents House Mother Normal directed by Tim Crouch


Adapted from the novel by B.S. Johnson in its fiftieth anniversary year, New Perspectives present a digital installation telling of the lives of eight characters in a nursing home under the watchful eye of House Mother. Directed by Tim Crouch, the production, which can be viewed online or at 6 Dukes Lane, Brighton, merges the individual chapters of B.S. Johnson’s novel to give a moment in time from nine different angles, each giving a powerful perspective on what it is to live life and grow old.

Ron, Rosetta, Ivy, Charlie, Gloria, Sarah, Sioned and George. Under the watchful eye of House Mother, eight residents of the strangest care home recall their pasts and narrate their terrifying present: the twitcher, the song, the Christmas Crackers, the Pass the Parcel, and Ralphie’s ‘long, probing, red tongue’. Nine faces. Nine voices orchestrated into a spoken-word symphony of old age and absurdism.

Director Tim Crouch said, “Some books thrive in different mediums and I think House Mother Normal is one of those. BS Johnson gives us a panoply of brilliantly drawn characters. In the book, we meet them consecutively, one after the other. In this digital version we’re in the same space with them all at the same time. That assembly of voices – a chorus of memories and meditations, cruelties and longings – vies for our attention in the present tense. It feels like we’re serving Johnson’s intention in the world we have created”.

In the early 1970s, BS Johnson was at the forefront of the English literary avant-garde. After his suicide at the age of 40, he gained a cult following, aided by critically acclaimed film Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry and Samuel Johnson Prize winning biography Like a Fiery Elephant by Jonathan Coe.

Artistic Director of New Perspectives Jack McNamara said, “House Mother Normal is a book that has been swimming around in my mind for years, waiting for the right moment, the right place, the right artist. As soon as the pandemic hit its relevance became palpable. A group of people trapped in one situation, staring into a kind of void that each sees differently, hosted by a leader both bizarre and sinister. It felt like exactly the story to tell now and Tim Crouch the perfect artist to tell it. We are thrilled and honoured that Brighton Festival has supported us to bring this experience to people, an experience that we hope goes well beyond the digital”

Tim Crouch is a UK theatre artist based in Brighton. He writes plays, performs in them and takes responsibility for their production. He started to make his own work in 2003. His many productions include I, Cinna the Poet, The Author (Total Theatre Award), Adler and Gibb, England (Herald Archangel Award, Fringe First Award), An Oak Tree (OBIE Award winner) and My Arm.

New Perspectives is an East Midlands based company with over 40 years experience of touring high-quality productions to venues of all sizes across the UK, from mid-scale theatres to village halls. With a strong rural core, they create productions to fit spaces of any size in order to bring new work that is unexpected and thought-provoking to a wide range of audiences. Since 2012, New Perspectives has been led by Artistic Director Jack McNamara. Their series PlacePrints, ranked the UK’s 25th most popular fiction podcast (2020) is currently available and Soho On Demand is hosting their Zoom adaptation of The Boss of It All starring Josie Lawrence. Other recent productions have included WhatsApp drama Stay Safe, a series of Christmas cards, and their internationally successful postcard drama Love From Cleethorpes which has reached over 2,000 letterboxes in 26 countries.

The Stage Award winning The Fishermen by Gbolohan Obisesan (Trafalgar Studios, Assembly George Square Studios and UK Tour) will be available on BBC Radio 3 on 4th April.

Running Time: 42 mins | Suitable for ages 16+ (contains material that people might find offensive)

Company information

Directed by Tim Crouch Based on the novel by B.S. Johnson

Film by Shared Space and Light Sound by Thor McIntyre-Burnie

Song composed by James Atherton


Vivien Bridson, Pip Donaghy, Marsha Millar, Tyrone Huggins, Cleo Sylvestre, Margaret Jackman, Tim Barlow, Sharon Morgan, Amelda Brown

Listings information

House Mother Normal – digital installation

6 Dukes Lane, The Lanes, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1BG

17 – 31 May 20201 (not Weds19 and 26 May)

£5 | 2.30pm, 3.45pm, 5pm, 6.45pm, 8pm,9.15pm

House Mother Normal – digital installation online

£5 | 5 -31 May 2021, 8pm

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