Precious Little Talent

Written by Ella Hickson

Wednesday 7th February to Saturday 10th February 2018

Directed by Julie Wood

New York 2008. A time of optimism for Sam, a young carer, who dreams of working his way up to live his dream of becoming a doctor.

Joey, a graduate with a first class honours degree in law, fired from her job as a waitress and with no future prospects.

George, a retired academic and Joey's estranged father, is suffering from dementia.

The three collide as British cynicism meets American optimism in a cruel world.

AuthorElla Hickson

Ella Hickson

Ella Hickson is a playwright and theatrical director who was brought up in Surrey near Guildford and educated at Guildford High School from 1996-2003. She now lives in London. Hickson's first play, 'Eight', produced by the Edinburgh University Theatre Company, won a Fringe First, the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award and the NSDF Emerging Artists Award at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008. The show toured to New York City in January 2009 and opened at Trafalgar Studios in July 2009.

In 2011, Hickson appeared in The Guardian's culture section as one of the four young playwrights to watch in the future.

Hickson's second play 'Precious Little Talent' opened at Trafalgar Studios in March 2011, directed by James Dacre.

In 2012 her third play 'Boys' opened at Soho Theatre directed by Robert Icke for Headlong Theatre.

In 2013 her play 'Wendy & Peter Pan', an adaptation of J.M. Barrie's novel, was produced at the Royal Shakespeare Company for the Christmas 2013 season, directed by Jonathan Munby.

In October 2016 her play 'Oil' premiered at the Almeida, starring Anne-Marie Duff and directed by Carrie Cracknell.

PlayPrecious Little Talent

Ella Hickson's Precious Little Talent is a play about the struggle of young people in their twenties to find their way in an increasingly hostile world. It was first performed at the Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh, on 6 August 2009, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The play begins in New York in December 2008. Joey, a 23-year-old English woman with a first-class degree and 20,000 pounds worth of debt, has just been fired from her waitressing job, so she has come to New York on a whim to visit her estranged father, George. Once there, she discovers that he's suffering from dementia. George's carer is an American teenager called Sam, as optimistic in outlook as Joey is cynical. They fall in love, leaving Joey with a choice of returning to the rat race in London or staying in America.

The Bench Production

Precious Little Talent Poster Image

This play was staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


JoeyKatie Watson
SamBen Tanner
GeorgeDavid Penrose


Director Julie Wood
Producer Dan Finch
Stage Manager Robin Hall
Assistant Stage Manager Craig Parker
Lighting and Sound Design Andrew Caple
Lighting Operation Claire Lyne
Sound Operation Paul Millington
Set Design
Programme Editor


The News

Ella Hickson's Precious Little Talent is The Bench's latest outing. An interesting play - mixing realistic scenes and fourth-wall breaking direct-address to audience - it examines loss and our responses to it.

George (David Penrose) is a Brit who has fled to New York to hide the onset of dementia that is crowding him out of his own mind. Sam (Ben Tanner) is the carer who supports him and Joey (Katie Watson) is his daughter arriving unexpectedly in New York, also on the run from a life that is changing out of all recognition.

These are strong performances. The frisson of the growing, doomed romance between Joey and Sam is very nicely executed.

As far as Tanner is concerned, it's some of the finest work I've seen from him. His performance-choices are generally subtle and spot-on. And then we come to Penrose. Always an actor I admire, here he is superlative. His moment of direct-address steams with anger and love and passion and fear and frustration. I don't think it's going too far to say this is amateur acting at its absolute finest.

Production Photographs