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Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DA

Quartermaine's Terms

4 star rating4 star rating4 star rating4 star rating

Closed April 13, 2013

Rowan Atkinson is superb in an outstanding production

Charles Spencer, The Telegraph

Why See Quartermaine's Terms?

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First staged in 1981, this quintessentially British play takes a poignant look at human relationships, loss and loneliness. Written by the Simon Gray, Quartermaine's Terms is arguably one of his finest works. This study of loneliness, both being and feeling, balances its bleak sense of tragedy with wit and comedy by simultaneously poking fun at British civility and cheeriness in the face of trauma and loss.

Described by The Telegraph's Charles Spencer as "an English drama that can genuinely stand comparison with Chekhov", Quartermaine's Terms is a compelling and ultimately moving play, and stars world-renown actor Rowan Atkinson as St John Quartermaine.


Set in the staffroom of an English Language School for Foreigners, the story traverses two years and the lives of seven teachers. Derek's move from Hull to unwelcoming Cambridge has been challenging; spinster Melanie loathes the ailing mother she is forced to care for; Anita's husband is a serial adulterer; Mark's marriage is troubled; Eddie grieves his deceased partner; and Henry's suffocates in his dysfunctional nuclear family.

At the core of the group is St John Quartermaine, placid bachelor and hopelessly humdrum teacher, whose agreeable nature and constant presence in the staffroom make him the ideal pair of ears for his colleagues ventings and ramblings about their dreams, fears and failings. As they spill their struggles to in their self-involved attempts at coming to terms with life, while simultaneously stirring questions about detached and diffident Quartermaine's own life beyond the school grounds.


Quartermaine's Terms was awarded the 1982 Cheltenham Literary Prize. The stage play was adapted and produced for TV in 1987 and BBC radio in 2006. Playwright Simon Gray passed away on 7 August 2008. In his life he wrote more than 30 stage plays, 5 novels and a number of plays for TV, radio and film.

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Additional Information


Previews from: 23 January 2013

Opening night: 29 January 2013


Quartermaine's Terms is suitable for audiences aged 12 and upwards

Run time

Two hours and 20 minutes with one interval


You may be required to have had a COVID vaccine in order to attend this performance or show proof of a negative test. Please contact the venue directly for more information on this.

Cast and Creative


Rowan Atkinson as St John Quartermaine
Conleth Hill
Will Keen
Felicity Montagu
Malcolm Sinclair
Matthew Cottle
Louise Ford


Written by Simon Gray
Directed by Richard Eyre
Designed by Tim Hatley

What you thought

6 reviews, average rating: (3.5 Stars)

3.5 star rating

Shazzer.: “Amazing!”

Rowan Atkinson is incredible! Have already booked to see this again!... more

Suburbanite: “How true”

Having served in a Common Room as a young teacher in the early 60s so... more

Read all reviews Write a review


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