Barry Peters’ play takes a look at what society might be like in 160 years’ time, writes Nick Elvin

What will the world be like in 160 years’ time? What will be considered normal or taboo?

Barry Peters’ play, A Rude Awakening takes a fictional look into the future and finds a world where certain aspects of society have been turned on their head.

Set in the deep South of the United States, A Rude Awakening tells the story of homophobic politician Tom Holdsworth and his gay campaign manager Bobby.

They are killed in a car crash, and when their bodies are unfrozen 160 years later, they find themselves in a society where heterosexuality is illicit and mannerisms have changes – but political corruption hasn’t gone away.

“They wake up in a different world,” says director Olivia Rowe. “All the people have the same political positions and the world works in the same way. But there are also subtle changes, like you don’t wipe your feet any more when entering a house, you wipe your hands on the wall to sanitise them.

“We have a couple of months’ re-orientation where Tom and Bobby get used to things. They then try to get back into politics because it is in their blood.“ A Rude Awakening, which stars American actor Jonathan Woodward (Holden Webster in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel) as Tom, and Sean Browne as Bobby, is the first play by Dr Barry Peters, a consultant physician at Guy’s and St Thomas Hospital and trustee of the National AIDS Trust.

He cared for HIV and AIDS sufferers for 23 years and saw first hand the discrimination many patients suffered because of their sexuality.

This inspired him to put pen to paper.

Practising-lawyer-turned-theatre-director Olivia says Barry’s experiences give the play an authenticity: “It really made me think, and I like plays that make me think.“ A Rude Awakening is at the New End Theatre, 27 New End, Hampstead until Sunday, March 6. Details: 0870 033 2733,