top of page

Rust (Bush Theatre/ HighTide)

A new play by Kenny Emson for the Bush Theatre and HighTide Festival.


Rule number eleven: We don’t talk about them. Not here. They don’t exist here.

Nadia and Daniel have a secret. In fact they have quite a few. They’ve just signed on the dotted line for a studio flat. Under a pseudonym, naturally – Mr and Mrs White. After years of school pick-ups, TV takeaways, and the day to day drudgery of married life, this is their chance to wipe the slate clean. But as much as they try and redefine the rules, and themselves, the outside world is closing in.

Ultra-contemporary, sexy and funny, Rustpushes the boundaries of trust, love and lust to the limit.

★★★★  The Sunday Times, Thomas W Hodgkinson:

'Kenny Emson’s compelling two-hander is like an English middle-class version of Last Tango in Paris. There’s less butter, but more believability. In this case, it’s the woman who instigates the shag-pad arrangement and lays down the rules. Nadia and Daniel (Claire Lams and Jon Foster, both excellent) only meet on Mondays, at the tiny studio flat she has rented in Shepherd’s Bush, west London. Neither may mention love. Or their spouse. Or their children. The stage is set for the full tragedy of extramarital passion, but we never get the fireworks. “Men like to shout,” they agree in a moment that elicits murmurs of recognition from the audience in the fittingly small Studio at the Bush. Yet not much shouting happens here, and not much sex, for that matter — at least compared with Last Tango. As consolation, the couple we meet are far more normal, and their intimate, intricate dialogue is wholly convincing. Our sadness as the relationship rusts is one we’ve all felt in love affairs, whether illicit or not.'

★★★★ Broadway World, Anthony Walker-Cook:

'With direction by Eleanor Rhode, Rust is finely acted. With the play filled with dick jokes, Jon Foster's Daniel is suitably flaccid and lusty, but it is Claire Lams who shines. Able to look empty, contemplative, drained and alive all at once, Lams is wholly captivating. With their strong performances, the 70 minutes fly by.'

★★★★ The Spy In The Stalls, Miriam Sallon:

'Stripping it back to a pile of pillows and a few neon lights, Eleanor Rhode’s direction leans mostly on good story-telling and strong performances from both Jon Foster (Daniel) and Claire Lams (Nadia). We’re privy to the kinds of unabashed conversations you’d have only in the seclusion of the bedroom, but Foster and Lams communicate this physical and emotional closeness with heartbreaking conviction.

Though the entire story takes place in a small one-bed flat, the narrative scope is huge. An understated tragedy, beautifully written and well executed.'

★★★★ London Theatre 1, Ben Miller:

'The Bush Theatre’s small, 50-seater studio space amplifies the emotional intensity created by Emson’s acute and searingly fast-paced dialogue, handled with aplomb by Jon Foster, as endearing and witty man-child Daniel, and Claire Lams as Nadia – a business executive mother seeking to free herself from the socio-normative shackles of her domestic life. The play’s success owes much to the razor-sharp and acerbic delivery of the two actors, and the authentic chemistry between them.'

★★★ Time Out, Holly Williams - ' stylish and well acted':

'The performances are really engaging, and if Foster is a tad teddy-bear-ish as the more woundable Daniel, he conveys his increasing devotion lightly. And Lams is very good as Nadia, flickering between impish and agonised, scornful and mournful. '

★★★ The Arts Desk, Aleks Sierz:

'Claire Lams (Nadia) and Jon Foster (Daniel) make a really good contrast; she is nimble, he more lumbering; she radiates youth; he seems more stuck in middle age. At their best, Foster exudes a boyish openness while Lams has a complementary thoughtful brightness. Their onstage rapport is great. And if I really want to know more about the bad stuff their characters discovered about each other during their affair, I can still appreciate this portrayal of trust and betrayal.'

Please reload


Photograph: Helen Murray

bottom of page