Rules for Living by Sam Holcroft – 26th February to 3rd March

Read Through 

Wednesday 4 October 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start

Audition Dates

Wednesday 11 October 8pm – 10pm and Sunday 15 October 5.30pm – 7.30pm

We are hoping that it will be a shorter more intensive rehearsal period over the following period:

w/c 28 November
w/c 5 December
w/c 12 December
w/c 15 January
w/c 22 January BOOKS DOWN
w/c 29 January
w/c 5 February
w/c 12 February
w/c 19 February
w/c 26 February PERFORMANCES

3 rehearsals a week for 9 weeks = 27 rehearsals total

About the play:

Rules for Living is a hilarious Ayckbourn-style black comedy by the award winning Sam Holcroft. It was first performed at the National Theatre in 2015.
Edith gathers her family for a traditional Christmas lunch. She has planned everything with military precision. However the festivities reveal the tensions among her offspring. One son, Matthew, arrives with his girlfriend Carrie, a larger than life and slightly crude actress, but he is secretly in love with his sister-in-law, Sheena. Sheena, unable to contain her anger at her cynical underachieving husband, Adam, decides to hit the bottle. Their daughter, Emma, is suffering from severe anxiety and is even struggling to get out of bed and join them for Christmas dinner. Edith has neglected from telling the family that her husband Francis has suffered from a stroke so when he enters in a wheelchair unable to communicate the entire family is in shock. The tension builds, accusations (and food) fly, relationships fall apart and the rules take over. Each of the characters generate coping strategies (or rules) to help them get through the chaos. These rules are displayed for the audience to see; “Matthew must sit to tell a lie”, “Edith must clean to keep calm”. With true feelings exposed there really is no place to hide.


Edith – 60’s/70’s – married to Francis and mother to Adam and Matthew. She is a perfectionist and a stickler for the rules. Christmas day is run like a military operation.

Adam – 30’s/40’s – married to Sheena. Failed cricket star. Mediocre lawyer. Must be good (or at least be confident to attempt) lots of different accents!

Sheena – 30’s/40’s – married to Adam. A bit neurotic with an unhealthy attitude to alcohol. Wants Adam to go to couples therapy to get their relationship back on track.

Matthew – 20’s/30’s – boyfriend of Carrie. A successful lawyer. In love with his sister-in-law Sheena.

Carrie – 20’s/30’s – girlfriend of Matthew. A resting actress. Very needy. Desperately trying to tone down her larger than life, comic, personality to fit in with Matthews family.

Francis – 60’s/70’s – married to Edith and father to Adam and Matthew.  He is a respectable, retired Judge. This is a smaller part. He has just suffered from a post-operative stroke. As a result he is suffering from right-sided partial paralysis. He is only able to say simple words and phrases, not complete sentences, and struggles to make even those words understood. He still has lots of comic moments though!!

Emma – 14 – 17 yrs old – daughter of Adam and Sheena. This is a small part. She suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and severe anxiety and has spent most of Christmas day up in her bedroom. She has a great speech at the climax of the play.

The characters rules which build up as the play goes on:
Rule 1: Matthew must sit and eat to tell a lie…until he gets a compliment.
Rule 2: Carrie must stand and dance around to tell a joke…until she gets a laugh.
Rule 3: Sheena must drink and interrupt to contradict…until she has the last word.
Rule 4: Adam must affect and accent and name-call to mock…until he has deflected blame.
Rule 5: Edith must clean and self-medicate to keep clam…until she gets reassurance.

Please find the audition sections attached as follows:

Rules for Living – Audition Section 1 – Matthew and Carrie – pg 10 – 14. This is the very opening of the play. Matthew and Carrie have just arrived at Edith’s house.

Rules for Living – Audition Section 2 –  Sheena and Adam – pg 50 – 53. Adam and Sheena have been having some troubles with their relationship. Their daughter is suffering from severe anxiety and Sheena is frustrated with Adam due to his lack of ambition, which is causing her to drink more.

Rules for Living – Audition Section 3 – Edith, Francis, Carrie, Matthew, Sheena and Adam pg 64 – 69. This is the big reveal moment. Edith has been in denial about her husbands stroke and when she brings him in to see the family. Matthew, Carrie, Adam and Sheena are all shocked to see him in such a bad way. For the purpose of the audition please ignore the fact that the interval falls half way through this scene!

Rules for Living – Audition Section 4 – Emma pg 118. Emma is suffering from severe anxiety. She has been in bed all day. She comes downstairs to let her family know that she would like to climb the hill, which is a big deal since she has been struggling to find the energy to face getting out of bed. She enters the scene at the climax of the play when everything has descended into complete chaos; food is flying everywhere, hair is being pulled and generally the adults are seriously misbehaving! They all stop fighting when Emma enters.

With these audition sections please adhere to the rules when they are in play – these will be clearly indicated in the stage directions. The stage directions will tell you when to sit, stand, dance, drink, clean, self-medicate, affect an accent etc…the trick will be trying to make all these things look as natural as possible!


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