When Caryl Churchill staged her eight-minute play Seven Jewish Children at the Royal Court Theatre in February, it divided critics and sparked allegations of anti-Semitism.

Now author and actor Richard Stirling has written what he terms his “theatrical response” in the form of Seven Other Children, which opens this week in Hampstead.

Employing the same format as Seven Jewish Children, the response comprises of seven scenes in eight minutes with a cast of nine, which includes Simona Armstrong, known from BBC 1’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

Richard, whose other written works include a bestselling autobiography of Julie Andrews, says he felt compelled to create Seven Other Children after watching a performance of the controversial play.

In seven vignettes, Caryl Chuchill’s piece narrates 70 years of history, from the Holocaust to the present-day conflict in Gaza, through the eyes of Jewish adults discussing what they should tell their children.

The 42-year-old playwright, who lives in central London, explains: “I had heard various disquieting reports about the play and I wanted to see it. When I did, I could understand the reaction.

“I also felt that it was significant that it was called seven “Jewish” not “Israeli” children. For me, that seemed to tilt the scales too much in one direction.”

He adds: “The audience were largely not there to be challenged, but rather to have their prejudices confirmed, and when I stood in the bar afterwards there were comments being made about Jews, not Israelis. Now, is that something that should be encouraged in audience members?”

Richard, who is not Jewish, also criticised Churchill’s work for being “an incomplete narrative”, adding that, “a play in eight minutes is not a debate, it’s just an opportunity to spill your spleen.”

Believing that the piece needed a theatrical response, particularly in light of Churchill’s statement that it was as much theatre as a “political event”, Richard first wrote to Royal Court artistic director Dominic Cook. He replied in a letter to Richard that no balance was needed, stating, “Are A Doll’s House or King Lear fair?”

Richard says: “No response was needed for drama, but this was not a normal piece of drama. It was free of charge and put on by the Royal Court at their own expense to benefit Churchill’s chosen charity, Medical Aid for Palestinians.

“So the assumption was that the Royal Court was lining up behind Caryl not just as an artist, but also as a political activist.”

Spurred on by the feeling that the Royal Court had been “unfair in its favour”, Richard set about researching into the history of the Middle East conflict and wrote Seven Other Children.

The play references such historical events as the British exit from the Palstine Mandate, the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, the Six Day War of 1967 and the recent conflict in Gaza.

As Richard sees it, “the tragedy of the situation in that part of the world is largely due to the miseducation of generations and the cementing of attitudes based not just on politics, but also ancient prejudices.”

Now under the direction of Simone Vause, with the artistic advice of north London actress Maureen Lipman, Richard says he is looking forward to seeing his play on stage at the New End Theatre.

The playwright tells me: “I’ve said what I wanted to say and we have an extremely strong cast, from all different backgrounds, including the Middle East, secular and religious,” adds Richard. “I believe there is a plurality to my cast and my play.”

Richard adds: “What I have written is something vibrant and quite pertinent and I hope that people like me, who felt quite alone after seeing Caryl Churchill’s play, are given some heart by this response.”

Seven Other Children arrives at New End Theatre, Hampstead, from Tuesday, May 5 to Saturday, May 16, 9.50pm. Free. Details: 020 7592 9666 or www.newendtheatre.co.uk