Playwright Kate Lock on her Islington-inspired show Russian Dolls

Stephanie Fayerman and Mollie Lambert in Russian Dolls at the King's Head Theatre. Picture: Andreas

Stephanie Fayerman and Mollie Lambert in Russian Dolls at the King's Head Theatre. Picture: Andreas Grieger - Credit: Archant

What could connect a fiercely independent old blind woman who makes apple crumble and lives alone, and a young offender who finds herself embroiled in gang life?

Playwright Kate Lock. Picture: Claire Grogan

Playwright Kate Lock. Picture: Claire Grogan - Credit: Archant

Despite their lives being poles apart, the worlds of these characters dramatically collide in just 80 minutes as the pair strike up an unlikely, and unusual, friendship in award-winning writer Kate Lock’s new play Russian Dolls, which runs at the King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street until April 23.

Youngster Camelia is a composite of feral youth figures Lock observed while out and about in her native Islington.

But inspiration for elderly Hilda was taken from one extraordinary individual Lock met at Age UK’s Drovers Centre in North Road while undertaking research for another play she had set in a day centre. “This woman had an extraordinary ability to get on with her life and make the best of it,” says Lock, who lives off Holloway Road, in Tufnell Park. “When I came across Hilda, she fascinated me so much. I thought, I can’t put her in this play, she deserves her own play. I just couldn’t stop thinking about her.”

A play about a platonic relationship between two women is a rare premise on stage or on screen – something which Lock seeks to change by joining the equal representation campaign, Women 50:50.

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“My play is not about sexual politics,” insists Lock. “It’s to show a different point of view, not just the male point of view.”

Russian Dolls scooped the King’s Head’s Adrian Pagan award in 2015, which is open to playwrights with only one previously published production, to help them advance their careers.

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It seems to have only boosted Lock’s already-esteemed reputation. Having won the Writers’ Guild Award for her first solo play, A Job for Life, she has now won a commission to write a BBC Radio 4 sitcom.

Lock, a former actress, wrote the play in Islington Central Library, which ironically now won’t allow her to advertise the production with a poster.

“The play advantaged me, it won an award, because I wrote it there. It’s a good acknowledgement of libraries,” Lock says.

Imogen Blake

Performances of Russian Dolls from Tuesday to Saturday at 8,30pm, Sunday matinees at 3pm. Tickets £18 (£15 concessions), visit or call 020 7226 8561 to book.

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