The BBC will broadcast the television adaptation of Maryland this month, a play by one of the UK’s leading playwrights about the culture of violence against women.
First seen at the Royal Court in London in 2021 and a fictional artistic response to recent real-life events, the play grapples with the violence women are forced to reckon with in their everyday lives.
This new 30-minute adaptation, co-directed with acclaimed documentary-maker Brian Hill, tells the story of two everywomen, both called Mary, and a chorus of modern day furies as they deliver their stories of assault.
Zawe Ashton and Hayley Squires play the lead roles of two individual Marys, who meet at a police station in the aftermath of their respective sexual assaults.
They are supported by a cast of furies who rail against the injustices the women face both in the events of the play, and in the wider world.
Lucy Kirkwood says: “I wrote the original play as a howl against the way we have normalised violence against women as something to be accommodated by women themselves, rather than protested by all of us...
"Against the way that women, especially women of colour, cannot at present even rely on the forces of law and order to protect or respect their bodies...
"Against the recent deaths of women including Sarah Everard, Bibaa Henry, Nicole Smallman and Sabina Nessa in particular, and the anxiety and fear which we culture girls to expect and accept in general.
"I hope the film will give new oxygen to that protest, but I wish it was not still such an urgent conversation.”
Suzy Klein, Head of Arts and Classical Music TV at the BBC, says: “Lucy Kirkwood is one of the most exciting voices in British theatre, whose work has won awards for its portrayal of issues around social justice, climate change and politics.
"Maryland brings Lucy’s searing, incisive vision to the issue of male violence against women and I’m really proud to have it broadcast on the BBC with this extraordinary cast...
"It’s not a piece that gives any easy answers to one of the most pressing social problems of our time, but it’s impossible to look away from this compelling play - a work brought to us by one of the most trusted and sensitive voices in contemporary drama.”
It will TX on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer on 20 July at 10pm.