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All the Ordinary Angels

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

All The Ordinary Angels is a comedy of treats and dirty tricks in the world of ice-cream, as a family business becomes a family feud.

When ice-cream man Giuseppe Raffa decides it’s finally time to come in from the cold and retire, he sets his two sons in competition with each other. The winner will gain the family business; the loser will be left with nothing. Supported and obstructed by Rocco’s wife Bernie and Lino’s girlfriend Lulu, their fight for the hearts and money of the people quickly becomes deadly serious. It is a lively and satirical story of love, competition and selling ice-cream in rainy Manchester.

All the Ordinary Angels premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 2005.

audio American Night: The Ballad of Juan Jose

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In this wild satire, a Mexican immigrant has a feverish dream while studying for his American citizenship exam. He meets a parade of characters ranging from Sacagawea to Teddy Roosevelt to Jackie Robinson, who take him on a mind-bending, hilarious, and poignant trip through American history.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, featuring Keith Jefferson, Richard Montoya, Todd Nakagawa, Sean San José, Kimberly Scott, Herbert Siguenza, Tom Virtue, Libby West, and Caro Zeller.

Directed by Shana Cooper. Recorded before a live audience.

Featuring: Keith Jefferson, Richard Montoya, Todd Nakagawa, Sean San Jose, Kimberly Scott, Herbert Siguenza, Tom Virtue, Libby West, Caro Zeller

Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In their introduction to the play, authors Margaretta D'Arcy and John Arden say of Ars Longa Vita Brevis: 'This little piece is not exactly a play, nor is it anything else in particular. If we must call it something, it might well be termed "A Theme for Variations."'

A satirical play, Ars Longa Vita Brevis draws comparisons between education and military conquest, suggesting that the result of both is the suppression of individual expression, and, ultimately, the death of the individual, as seen in the life of the martially-minded art master Mr Miltiades. The free rein the authors give to the possibility for production is in marked contrast to the damning, and ultimately damned, techniques of the protagonist of the piece.

audio Babbitt

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

With an all-star cast including Stacy Keach, Helen Hunt, Edward Asner, Ted Danson and Richard Dreyfuss, this epic of the booming 1920’s uniquely captures the relentless culture of American business. Babbitt is a true classic about conformity in small town America - celebrated for its comic tone, satire, and vivid dialogue. The play is based on Sinclair Lewis’ novel, first published in 1922.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Edward Asner, Rene Auberjonois, Bonnie Bedelia, Ed Begley Jr., Georgia Brown, Roscoe Lee Browne, Jack Coleman, Bud Cort, Ted Danson, William Devane, Richard Dreyfuss, Hector Elizondo, Fionnula Flanagan, Robert Foxworth, Harry Hamlin, Julie Harris, Helen Hunt, Amy Irving, Stacy Keach, John Lithgow, Nan Martin, Marsha Mason, Richard Masur, Marian Mercer, Joanna Miles, Holly Palance, Judge Reinhold, Franklyn Seales, David Selby, Ally Sheedy, Madolyn Smith, James Whitmore, JoBeth Williams and Michael York.

Featuring: Edward Asner, Rene Auberjonois, Bonnie Bedelia, Ed Begley Jr., Georgia Brown, Roscoe Lee Browne, Jack Coleman, Bud Cort, Ted Danson, William Devane, Richard Dreyfuss, Hector Elizondo, Fionnula Flanagan, Robert Foxworth, Harry Hamlin, Julie Harris, Helen Hunt, Amy Irving, Stacy Keach, John Lithgow, Nan Martin, Marsha Mason, Richard Masur, Marian Mercer, Joanna Miles, Holly Palance, Judge Reinhold, Franklyn Seales, David Selby, Ally Sheedy, Madolyn Smith, James Whitmore, JoBeth Williams, Michael York

audio The Baltimore Waltz

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A darkly satirical play written at the height of the AIDS crisis. As a young woman is diagnosed with a mysterious new illness, she and her beloved brother flee to Europe in search of a cure … and to escape the pain and uncertainty of the future.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jenny Bacon, Christopher Donahue and Jerry Saslow.

Featuring: Jenny Bacon, Christopher Donahue, Jerry Saslow

Bartholmew Fair

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Jonson’s exuberant comedy uses the carnival energy of Bartholmew Fair, an actual fair held in a disreputable suburb of London, to dramatize, satirize and celebrate the appetites and comic frailties of the human body.

The depiction of the Fair, teeming with sleazy but energetic life, is one of the great creations of English drama. There are crowds listening to a ballad-singer while a cutpurse plies his trade; sellers of toys and gingerbread raking in customers; drunken quarrels, arrests, and beatings. The climax is a puppet show in which a classic love story is reduced to raucous obscenity. At the centre is the gigantic pig-seller Ursla, whose tent, full of smoke, flame and frying carcasses, also doubles as a privy and a brothel.

There are also a number of respectable (and not so respectable) Londoners drawn to the Fair. Those who come to judge it end up in trouble. Those who come to enjoy it, and get something out of it, do not always get what they expect. Jonson’s gift for elaborate plotting draws all of his vivid characters together in a complex, beautifully structured mercantile cacophony.

Bartholmew Fair is said to have been first performed in 1613 at the Hope playhouse.

The Beaux' Stratagem

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Beaux’ Stratagem (1707) is George Farquhar’s last play: it premiered a month and a half before his untimely death aged 30, at the Queen’s Theatre in Haymarket, a new venue built by dramatist and architect John Vanbrugh on the Western fringes of the city of London. Seen as one of the most humane and democratic writers of the post-Restoration stage, Farquhar did not live to see the play become one of the most performed plays of the eighteenth century.

Farquhar’s last play is the story of two fortune-hunting beaux, Aimwell and Archer, who have journeyed from London to the provincial town of Lichfield. Their plan is to work their way through several towns, alternately pretending to be master and servant until one of them finds a rich heiress. But at the first hurdle, Aimwell falls sincerely in love with his prey, and begins to woo the beautiful Dorinda in earnest. Meanwhile his ‘footman’ Archer arouses the wistful interest of the unhappily married Mrs Sullen, the wife of a boorish squire. The play is further populated by a corrupt innkeeper, his lovely daughter, a highwayman, a disguised Irish priest, a country gentlewoman who believes she has healing powers, and a lowly servant who became one of the best-loved comic roles of the eighteenth century.

The Beaux’ Stratagem has been praised for the range, depth and naturalism of its characters: at a time when most comedies were written in, for and about London, Farquhar leaves behind the tendency to portray country folk as uncouth and laughable rustics. In addition, the play has been seen as broaching the gap between the sharp wit of Restoration comedy and its plots full of rakes and rascals, and the more genteel, sentimental comedy of the eighteenth century, whose focus falls not on sexual one-upmanship but on the realities of marital discord. The use of marriage as a way to improve social status had been long dramatized and satirized, but it is in his discussions of divorce that Farquhar reaches out to a humane understanding of the feasibility of marital harmony.

Feminist criticism has read into the play an early stirring of woman’s rights. In the previous century, plagued by the failings of patriarchal authority in kingship and commonwealth, questions had been raised about marriage being the best and/or only option for women, as it brought with it the possibility of unkind husbands and further loneliness. Farquhar’s comedy, ending with both marriage and divorce, highlighted the need for a reform of the divorce laws; this was a pertinent topic, as, despite the ills of marriage, only six divorces were granted by an Act of Parliament between 1660 and 1714.

Belong

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Election lost, speeches made and controversy stirred – Kayode’s hiding. He’s not even answering the door to the cleaner and Rita is not going to start getting out the Hoover in her designer heels. Escaping the political heat in London he flees to Nigeria – a British MP and a self-made man. Once there, he gets caught up in a whole new power game. Bola Agbaje’s satirical play questions our notion of home.

Belong was originally produced by the Royal Court and Tiata Fahodzi at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court in April 2012 before transferring to Theatre Local, Peckham.

audio The Best of Second City

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Take an unforgettable ride with the classic sketches that helped make this America’s foremost comedy troupe. The Second City lampoons every aspect of modern American life, with brilliant improvised sketches on subjects ranging from salad bars to affairs of state.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marsha Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick and Jim Zulevic.

Featuring: Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marhsa Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick, Jim Zulevic

audio The Best of Second City: Vol. 1

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Take an unforgettable ride with the classic sketches that helped make this America’s foremost comedy troupe. The Second City lampoons every aspect of modern American life, with brilliant improvised sketches on subjects ranging from salad bars to affairs of state.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marsha Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick and Jim Zulevic.

Featuring: Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marhsa Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick, Jim Zulevic

audio The Best of Second City: Vol. 2

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Take an unforgettable ride with the classic sketches that helped make this America’s foremost comedy troupe. The Second City lampoons every aspect of modern American life, with brilliant improvised sketches on subjects ranging from salad bars to affairs of state.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marsha Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick and Jim Zulevic.

Featuring: Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marhsa Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick, Jim Zulevic

audio The Best of Second City: Vol. 3

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Take an unforgettable ride with the classic sketches that helped make this America’s foremost comedy troupe. The Second City lampoons every aspect of modern American life, with brilliant improvised sketches on subjects ranging from salad bars to affairs of state.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marsha Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick and Jim Zulevic.

Featuring: Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marhsa Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick, Jim Zulevic

A Bold Stroke for a Wife

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Though critics and literary historians have always had to admit that Susanna Centlivre’s comedies were extremely popular, they have tended to devote themselves to a search for evidence in them of supposed deficiencies of ‘the female pen,’ and to pay as much attention to the playwright’s marriages and amorous liaisons than to the plays themselves. Only in recent years has Centlivre come to be recognized quite straightforwardly as one of the most brilliant playwrights of her time. A Bold Stroke for a Wife is perhaps the finest example of Centlivre’s masterful plotting of comic intrigue. The soldier Fainwell and Anne Lovely are in love, but their path to the altar is blocked by her guardians, each of whom has a different view of what sort of husband would make the right match. Fainwell resorts to disguises of social types. The play thus provides a wide range of opportunity for Centlivre to satirize Tory respectability, religious propriety and capitalist speculative greed—and to give voice to tolerance: ‘tis liberty of choice that sweetens life.’ Yet in the end it is Centlivre’s comic muse that gives enduring life to the play as one of the most entertaining of eighteenth-century comedies.

audio Bordertown

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Culture Clash brashly explores the San Diego-Tijuana region through satire and humor. Bordertown is based upon interviews the trio conducted with more than 100 people from both sides of the border and from every walk of life. Interviewees include right wing talk show host and former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock, Sheriff Bill Kollender, Filipino and Ugandan immigrants, Navy personnel, a high school counselor, a border guard, punk rockers, homeless children, transvestites, and factory workers.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Culture Clash: Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza.

Featuring: Culture Clash: Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, Herbert Siguenza

The Boy on the Swing

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

If you found God’s number on a business card, would you call it? For Earl, the answer is yes. Seeking answers, he dials the number, hoping to reach a divine being. Instead, he discovers something altogether too familiar – bureaucracy. Before he sees God, there are countless hoops to jump through and forms to fill out, all pushed on him by inoffensive middlemen. Will he find God at the end of the tunnel?

Joe Harbot’s The Boy on the Swing premiered at the Arcola Theatre, London, in 2011. Witty dialogue and cleverly plotted absurdity drive this unexpected journey into the nature of the divine and the mundane.

Canvas

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Justine and Alan need to get away from it all. And what better way than camping on a farm in the Welsh countryside? So long as that's camping with all the luxuries, of course: real beds, wood burning stoves and an espresso machine. Sharing the rural idyll are seasoned campers Bridget and Rory, upwardly mobile Amanda and Alistair and a bunch of offspring. But canvas walls and adjacent tents leave little to the imagination in this entertaining exposé of modern family life.

Canvas premiered at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester, in May 2012.

Cloud Nine

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Churchill’s wickedly comic and compassionate study of sexual politics glimpses the relationships of a family and their lovers, with an interval of twenty-five years of their lives, and around a hundred years of history.

Highlighting the parallels of sexual and colonial oppression, the first act is set in a British colony in Africa in Victorian times. Clive is the traditional colonial patriarch, proud of his perfectly domesticated wife and black servant (‘played by a man’ and ‘played by a white’ respectively), and striving conscientiously to ensure his son and daughter play with gender appropriate toys. But furtive adultery and secret homosexuality threaten to subvert the moral order of the household.

The second act finds some of the same characters living in 1979, twenty-five years older and played by different actors, finding new liberations in bisexuality and polyamory, but finding new anxieties about gender and fulfilment. The intricacies of these relationships and the play’s doubling create a complex and moving account of the multiplicity of individual sexualities.

Cloud Nine was first performed in 1979 at the Dartington College of Arts, before touring and transferring to London.

The Critic

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Critic: or, a Tragedy Rehearsed is a political and literary satire, following in the vein of George Villiers’ The Rehearsal (1671), which takes jovial aim at the vanities of authors and politicians and at the foibles of the theatre itself. It was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (which Sheridan owned and managed) in 1779.

The play is Sheridan's response to the threat of a Franco–Spanish invasion in the summer of 1779. In 1778, France had acknowledged US independence and subsequently declared war on Britain. In 1779, Spain followed suit, and by August of that year, both countries’ fleets were in the English Channel. Britain’s military preparations may have been somewhat excessive, but they did encourage an ‘Armada spirit’ of nationalism. In June 1779, the theatre at Sadler’s Wells had put on an ‘Armada piece’, Thomas King’s The Prophecy; or, Queen Elizabeth at Tilbury. Sheridan’s play caricatures this trend to rouse patriotism by highlighting glorious moments of past English victory, through his portrayal of a fictional ‘tragedy’, The Spanish Armada, penned by the amateur Mr. Puff. The play-within-the-play, needless to say, is more akin to farce than tragedy.

Sheridan’s first act introduces several figures who embody all that is reprehensible about the theatre. Mr Dangle is an amateur theatre critic, delighted to have his house filled every morning with declaiming aspirant players and warbling opera singers all seeking advancement from him. Mr Sneer is a fellow critic famed for his acerbic pen. Sir Fretful Plagiary is a playwright of doubtful quality. Sneer and Dangle visit the final rehearsal of Puff’s play to offer their valued opinions on the ‘Art of Puffing’, peppering the long-suffering actors with comments, suggestions and protestations in a hilarious theatrical parody. Puff’s work culminates in a bombastic spectacular set to ‘Rule Britannia’, bringing the play to a laughably patriotic close.

video The Critic (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Hywel Bennett, Alan Badel, Nigel Hawthorne and John Gielgud star in Sheridan's clever farce on the pretensions of the theatrical world. The Critic: or, a Tragedy Rehearsed is a political and literary satire, following in the vein of George Villiers’ The Rehearsal (1671), which takes jovial aim at the vanities of authors and politicians and at the foibles of the theatre itself.

Credits:

Lord Burleigh: John Gielgud; Mr. King/Mr. Puff: Hywel Bennett; Mr. Sneer: Nigel Hawthorne; Mrs. Dangle: Rosemary Leach; Mr. Dangle: Norman Rodway; Sir Fretful Plagiary: Alan Badel; Tiburina: Anna Massey; Constable: Rodney Bewes; Interpreter: Christopher Biggins; Director: Don Taylor; Writer: Richard B. Sheridan; Producer: Louis Marks; Costume Design: Betty Aldiss.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

Cuckold Ubu

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Alfred Jarry’s Cuckold Ubu (Ubu Cocu) is the second in his cycle of Ubu plays about Pa Ubu, the grotesquely comical character first encountered in King Ubu (Ubu Roi).

This version is translated by Kenneth McLeish, who in his introduction to the published text calls the play 'the darkest and most surreal of the [Ubu] plays.' It is relatively short compared to its predecessor King Ubu, and is incomplete: Jarry never produced a definitive version of the play. He is believed to have begun its composition in 1897, a year after the premiere of King Ubu, and it was performed in various versions during his lifetime. It is written in the same style as King Ubu, with a characteristic combination of surrealism, ribaldry and biting satire.

The action of the play is summarised by McLeish as follows: 'Pa Ubu takes up residence in the home of Peardrop, a breeder of polyhedra, and he and his Barmpots tyrannise the neighbourhood, despite the efforts of Pa Ubu’s Conscience and Peardrop to stop them. There is war, led on Peardrop’s side by Memnon (the singing Egyptian statue with whom Ma Ubu is cuckolding Pa Ubu) and by the banker Swankipants, and eventually a crocodile appears in true Punch-and-Judy style to chase off all the others. (We don’t know whether it does or not: the play as it survives is incomplete.)'

Dahling You Were Marvellous

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Three actors, a director, and a producer are dining at a trendy London restaurant. In the glamour of it all, they compliment, flatter, and boast – while privately criticising and drowning in self-doubt.

This thoughtful comedy explores the superficial and hypocritical nature of the dazzling thespian world, while also pointing out the vulnerability and good-naturedness that lies beneath it all.

Dark Race

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Vietnam’s Nguyen Đăng Chương's satirical play which looks at personal integrity in business and political leaders.

audio The Doctor's Dilemma

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The blowhards, the know-it-alls, the scrupulous and the impecunious are all targets for Shaw’s incisive wit in his classic satire of the medical profession. A well-respected physician is forced to choose whom he shall save: a bumbling friend or the ne’er-do-well husband of the woman he loves.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jane Carr, Gregory Cooke, Kenneth Danziger, Roy Dotrice, Martin Jarvis, Jennifer Dundas Lowe, Simon Templeman, Douglas Weston and Paxton Whitehead.

Includes a conversation with Dr. Neil Wenger, the Director of the Healthcare Ethics Center at the University of California-Los Angeles

The Doctor’s Dilemma is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

Featuring: Jane Carr, Gregory Cooke, Kenneth Danziger, Roy Dotrice, Martin Jarvis, Jennifer Dundas Lowe, Simon Templeman, Douglas Weston, Paxton Whitehead

Duped

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Duped is a satire which is set on an airship designed to carry out covert operations for the South African government to safeguard the security of the country and international delegates visiting our shores. The cleverness of the work is the multi-faceted themes of ‘Big Brother is watching’ as South Africa enters the realms of international politics; the threats of internal security and challenges of maintaining a productive workforce; gender politics; and the jostling for power along race and class divides. The standout genius in the play is when the ship’s American designer, Mr. Johnson, takes out his latest invention, a reconciliatory chip, and extols: ‘It’s time to forgive me.’ Images of our Truth and Reconciliation Commission come flooding to mind and the path of the healing of our nation following the atrocities of Apartheid are juxtaposed against the positioning of our democracy in present day South Africa. Have we been naïve in claiming a Rainbow Nation? Have the politics of the country aligned with international party politics to provide a monetary value to freedom? It is particularly noteworthy how theft and greed needle through the story, from the ranks of the officials to the fabric of society until it knits a blanket of deception and covers their foibles.

Early Morning

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

At the beginning of the savage and satirical Early Morning, Bond asserts that, ‘The events of this play are true.’ The events of the play are starkly at odds with history as we know it: they show a world in which Queen Victoria is a lesbian, her sons Prince George and Prince Arthur are conjoined twins, and Disraeli is plotting her death. A man is put on trial for eating someone who pushed in front of him in a queue; Victoria arranges for Florence Nightingale to be married to George and then rapes her; Heaven turns out to be an eternity of cannibalism.

Bond’s iconoclastic rewriting of the Victorian monarchy peels apart humanity’s cruelty and consumption in a play that is by turns comic, shocking and macabre.

Early Morning was first performed privately in 1968. Banned by the Lord Chamberlain until the abolition of theatre censorship in 1968, it was revived as a full production at the Royal Court in 1969.

The Elephant Calf: An interlude for the foyer

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Originally written as part of Mann ist Mann (Man Equals Man), The Elephant Calf was later removed and redrawn as a play in its own right, to be performed as an interlude in the foyer during performances of the former play.

The Elephant Calf sees Galy Gay – the protagonist of Man Equals Man – undergo a trial for the murder of his mother (who, in a surreal turn of events, is in rude health on the stage, and even called as a witness). The play’s farcical denouement is critiqued by ‘audience members’ – in fact, part of the cast – who storm the stage and insist on having their money back, with the threat of menaces to come if the cast don’t accede.

Sometimes subtitled ‘You Can Prove Anything’, this version of The Elephant Calf was translated by John Willett, and was first published in 1979.

Epicoene or The Silent Woman

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Jonson’s buzzing satire on gender and language enjoyed enormous prestige for more than a century after its first performance. The central figure is Morose, who hates noise yet lives in the centre of London, and who, because of his decision to marry a woman only because he is duped into believing she is silent, exposes himself to a fantastic cacophony of voices, male, female and – epicene.

The title signals Jonson’s satiric and complex concern with gender and performance: the play interrogates sexual decorum and the performance of gender, asking how men and women should behave both as fit examples of their sexes and to one another. The characters – knights, barbers, female collegiate and tricksters – present a cross-section of wrong answers, enabling Jonson to create riotous entertainment out of lack, loss and disharmony. Jonson is fascinated by the denigration of language into empty chatter or furious abuse: it is teeming with idiomatic vitality.

Epicoene was first performed in 1609 or 1610 by a children’s company. This text is based on the only authoritative text, from the 1616 folio Works.

Family Album

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Featherway family are gathered glumly in the drawing room in 1860 after their father’s funeral. But as Madeira is drunk, dressing-up boxes unearthed, songs sung, childhood memories re-discovered and the scandalous secrets of the will revealed, the gloom turns into what Coward described as ‘a sly satire on Victorian hypocrisy.’

Family Album is a short play from Tonight at 8.30, originally starring Gertrude Lawrence and Coward himself, conceived by Coward as an antidote to the boredom of a long run of the same script. It is a sequence of ten plays to be performed by the same cast in sets of three, alternating matinees and evenings, ranging from farce to melodrama to romantic comedy.

After touring, Tonight at 8.30 was produced at the Phoenix Theatre in London in 1936.

Feelgood

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Feelgood is an outrageously funny satire on modern politics and the fine art of spin.Alistair Beaton's wonderful play, part farce, part biting satire, is set in the plush seaside hotel of a party conference. As anti-capitalist riots rage in the streets below, sinister and obsessive press secretary Eddie and young speech-writing aide Paul are trying to finalise the PM's conference speech.

But Eddie's manipulative skills are to be tested far more by the scandal that George, dim-witted lord and close friend of the PM, gradually reveals – not helped by the arrival of Eddie's ex-wife and investigative journalist, Liz.

Described by The Times as 'a play for our time', Feelgood premiered at the Hampstead Theatre, London, in January 2001, in a production directed by Max Stafford Clark.

Fred and Madge

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Written in 1959 when he was only 26 years old, Fred and Madge was Joe Orton’s very first play and has been rarely produced since its composition.

The title characters of the play seem to be the stereotypical middle-aged couple, bored with one another and conversing in clichés. But it turns out that Fred’s job is to push boulders uphill like Sisyphus and Madge’s is to sieve water all day long. Furthermore, since the action is repeatedly interrupted by a quasi-director, it seems they are inhabiting a play about themselves. Soon, it becomes clear that London is becoming subsumed by rampant greenery and the whole cast dreams of escape. Orton’s play zings with sharp one-liners and dialogue that reeks of sexual and social innuendo – a foretaste of his inimitable theatrical style that would eventually turn him into one of Britain’s best-loved playwrights.

Fred and Madge fuses anger with absurdity in its portrait of a working-class couple dehumanised by the relentless routine of their mundane lives. These routines are paralleled by the rituals of the theatre itself, something with which Orton was all too familiar.

Gasping

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

When Philip is challenged by his boss to find a new way of making money from nothing, he invents the Suck and Blow machine and along with it the business of air – providing private air, stockpiling air, and eventually selling air. A flash advertising campaign soon convinces the public that everyone needs a Suck and Blow, but as the market for oxygen grows, the world’s supply is diminishing.

In this sharp-witted satire on the ludicrous, dangerous endgame of commodification, Ben Elton pushes the logic of capitalism through to its ridiculous and alarming conclusion. Gasping, first presented in 1990 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, is a whirl of innuendo, an exuberant mockery of yuppie culture and a scintillating parody of corporate greed.

Going Postal

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Moist von Lipwig was a con artist, a fraud and a man faced with a life choice: be hanged, or put Ankh-Morpork’s ailing postal service back on its feet.

It was a tough decision.

With the help of a golem who has been at the bottom of a hole in the ground for over two hundred years, a pin fanatic and Junior Postman Groat, he’s got to see that the mail gets through. In taking on the evil chairman of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company and a midnight killer, he’s also go to stay alive. Getting a date with Adora Belle Dearheart would be nice, too.

In the mad world of the mail, a criminal might be able to succeed where honest men have failed and died. Perhaps there’s a shot at redemption for a man who is prepared to push the envelope...

Going Postal is a faithful adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s hilarious novel of the same name. It was first performed at the Unicorn Theatre, Abingdon in 2005.

audio Halcyon Days (Dietz)

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Senator Eddie Bowman cannot see the point of invading a miniscule Caribbean island to rescue a bunch of overly tanned medical students. But as the 1983 invasion of Grenada gets underway, the Senator finds himself at odds with a mysterious foreign-policy specialist who cultivates roses, the Presidents's sexy new speechwriter-and his own son.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Anne Archer, Ed Begley Jr., Samantha Bennett, Lyvingston Holmes, Richard Masur, Jon Matthews, Christopher McDonald, Gill Segel and Michael Winters.

Featuring: Anne Archer, Ed Begley Jr., Samantha Bennett, Lyvingston Holmes, Richard Masur, Jon Matthews, Christopher McDonald, Gill Segel, Michael Winters

Handbag

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Handbag is an angry, satirical, penetrating play about parenthood, which collides a reimagining of events from Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest with the life of a newborn baby in the nineties, the child of a lesbian couple and a gay couple.

The play opens on Mauretta and Suzanne, and David and Tom; the two couples plan to have a child together than will never be abandoned or neglected, as it will have four parents instead of two. But when the baby is born, fear and infidelity creep into their familial fantasy. Ravenhill introduces Lorraine, whose consumer habits are being intimately studied by Suzanne, and Phil, a young man whom David pays for sex.

Running alongside this narrative is the spoof story of Agatha, Miss Prism and the Moncrieff family – names recognisable from Wilde’s classic, but with new and distressing instances of child abuse. Inevitably, the consequences for the child at the centre of this nexus of neglect, voyeurism, sexual transactions and sexualised Teletubbies are shocking and disturbing.

Handbag was first performed at the Lyric Hammersmith Studio, London, in 1998.

Hands Across The Sea

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A sparkling, hilarious and technically brilliant short comedy, Hands Across the Sea is set at a cocktail party in a smart London flat where the telephone is always ringing and there are always three conversations happening at once. The earnest enquiries, enthusiastic reminiscences and society anecdotes scream along at dazzling pace, impeded not a jot by the hosts having no idea who exactly their guests are.

Hands Across the Sea, originally starring Gertrude Lawrence and Coward himself, is a short play from the Tonight at 8.30 cycle, conceived by Coward as an antidote to the boredom of a long run of the same script. It is a sequence of ten plays to be performed by the same cast in sets of three, alternating matinées and evenings, ranging from farce to melodrama to romantic comedy.

After touring, Tonight at 8.30 was produced at the Phoenix Theatre in London in 1936.

Hard Times

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Dominated by Gradgrind and Bounderby, Coketown's prosperity is built on the cotton mills where thousands of men and women slave away for long hours and little pay. Gradgrind's obsession with material progress damages his children Louisa and Tom, leading to scandal and disaster. Hard Times celebrates the importance of the human heart in an age obsessed with materialism. Circus, music and dark comedy all go into the rich mix of this truly Dickensian theatrical tale.

Harlequinade

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Terence Rattigan's Harlequinade is a one-act farce about a touring theatre company, first produced in a double-bill with The Browning Version under the joint title Playbill at the Phoenix Theatre, London, on 8 September 1948.

The play is set on the stage of a theatre in a Midlands town. Arthur Gosport and his wife Edna are the principal leads in a professional touring theatre company, currently performing Romeo and Juliet. In order to hide their unsuitability as teenage lovers, they have the stage lights turned down so low that they fuse. However, when Arthur is confronted by the daughter and granddaughter he never knew he had, he discovers that he’s actually still married to his first wife and has (unwittingly) committed bigamy.

As Rattigan scholar Dan Rebellato writes in his introduction to the play (published in a volume with The Browning Version by Nick Hern Books, 1994), the play is 'a witty satire of the kind of touring theatre encouraged by the new Committee for the Encouragement of Music and Arts (CEMA, the immediate forerunner of the Arts Council)'. In August 1946, this body was reconstituted as the Arts Council of Great Britain.

The Phoenix Theatre premiere was directed by Peter Glenville, with Eric Portman as Arthur Gosport, Mary Ellis as Edna Selby, Marie Löhr as Dame Maud Gosport, Hector Ross as Jack Wakefield, Kenneth Edwards as George Chudleigh, Peter Scott as First Halberdier, Basil Howes as Second Halberdier, Noel Dyson as Miss Fishlock, Anthony Oliver as Fred Ingram, Henry Bryce as Johnny, Thelma Ruby as Muriel Palmer, Patrick Jordan as Tom Palmer, Campbell Cotts as Mr Burton, Henryetta Edwards as Joyce Langland and Manville Tarrant as the Policeman.

Harvest

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

A futuristic satire on the west's exploitation of third world countries – a society in which the trade of body organs to rich westerners is seen as the only route out of poverty. Winner of the Onassis Award for Playwriting. 

Om, a young man is driven by unemployment to sell his body parts for cash. Guards arrive to make his home into a germ-free zone. When Jeetu, his brother returns unexpectedly, he is taken away as the donor. Om can't accept this. Java, his wife is left alone. Will she too be seduced into selling her body for use by the rich westerners?

audio The Importance of Being Earnest

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

This final play from the pen of Oscar Wilde is a stylish send-up of Victorian courtship and manners, complete with assumed names, mistaken lovers, and a lost handbag. Jack and Algernon are best friends, both wooing ladies who think their names are Ernest, “that name which inspires absolute confidence.” Wilde’s effervescent wit, scathing social satire, and high farce make this one of the most cherished plays in the English language.

Includes an interview with director Michael Hackett, Professor of Theater in the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA.

An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring: James Marsters as Jack Charles Busch as Lady Bracknell Emily Bergl as Cecily Neil Dickson as Lane and Merriman Jill Gascoine as Miss Prism Christopher Neame as Chasuble Matthew Wolf as Algernon Sarah Zimmerman as Gwendolen

Directed by Michael Hackett. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Emily Bergl, Charles Busch, Neil Dickson, Jill Gascoine, James Marsters, Christopher Neame, Matthew Wolf, Sarah Zimmerman

Includes an interview with director Michael Hackett, Professor of Theater in the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA.

An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring: James Marsters as Jack Charles Busch as Lady Bracknell Emily Bergl as Cecily Neil Dickson as Lane and Merriman Jill Gascoine as Miss Prism Christopher Neame as Chasuble Matthew Wolf as Algernon Sarah Zimmerman as Gwendolen

Directed by Michael Hackett. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Emily Bergl, Charles Busch, Neil Dickson, Jill Gascoine, James Marsters, Christopher Neame, Matthew Wolf, Sarah Zimmerman

Includes an interview with director Michael Hackett, Professor of Theater in the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: James Marsters as Jack Charles Busch as Lady Bracknell Emily Bergl as Cecily Neil Dickson as Lane and Merriman Jill Gascoine as Miss Prism Christopher Neame as Chasuble Matthew Wolf as Algernon Sarah Zimmerman as Gwendolen Directed by Michael Hackett. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Emily Bergl, Charles Busch, Neil Dickson, Jill Gascoine, James Marsters, Christopher Neame, Matthew Wolf, Sarah Zimmerman

The Insect Play

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Insect Play (or Ze života hmyzu in the Czech) is an unconventional and much-celebrated satire which tells the story of myriad insects and the multi-layered and complex society which binds them; its comical allegory serves illuminate the competing philosophies of life doing battle in Europe in the first half of the twentieth century.

Writing in their translator’s introduction, Peter Majer and Cathy Porter point out that ‘the play’s visceral theatricality, playful language and wealth of strong acting parts make it a director’s dream, and it is one of the most performed of all Čapek’s stage creations in the English-speaking world . . . With their tiny eyes, their powerful jaws, their capacity to kill or suck dry, to be blown away or crushed, Čapek’s insects are repulsive yet human, and as they scurry effortlessly between the human and insect worlds they show human passions, instincts and vices, and the bloody lusts which make human intelligence hideous.'

The Insect Play was first performed in Prague in 1922.

In the Company of Men

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In the Company of Men makes a vivid and coruscating attack on the values encapsulated by boardroom power games, as power skirmishes turn to violence. The play opens with Leonard demanding a position on the board of his adoptive father’s arms manufacturing company. His ageing father is exhausted, as the company has just narrowly avoided being taken over by a rival. When his father refuses him the position, Leonard begins to go behind his father’s back in order to acquire another company and usurp power by more aggressive means. Bond’s uncompromising style summons an intriguing and ruthless world described by the RSC as a ‘vast meditation on the twenty-first century’.

In the Company of Men was first produced in Britain in 1996 in the Pit Theatre, London.

Ivanov (trans. Hare)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Anton Chekhov is one of the undisputed masters of world drama. He is usually thought to hide himself behind his characters and stories, keeping his own personality well off-stage. But when he was young he wrote three plays - Platonov, Ivanov and The Seagull - which, with their thrilling sunbursts of youthful anger and romanticism, reveal a very different playwright from the one known by his mature, more familiar work.

These three blazing dramas, in versions by internationally acclaimed dramatist David Hare, offer the chance to explore the birth of a revolutionary dramatic voice. Each shows a writer progressively freeing himself from the constraints of nineteenth-century melodrama and heralds the shift into the twentieth century, and the birth of the modern stage.

Ivanov premiered as part of the Young Chekhov season at the Chichester Festival Theatre in the autumn of 2015. The plays transferred to National Theatre in the summer of 2016.

Nikolai Ivanov is only 35, a radical and a romantic, but already he’s feeling that he’s thrown his life away. Determined not to become a small-town Hamlet, he hopes one last desperate romance may save him from a society rotten with anti-Semitism and drink.

Jubilee

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Commissioned by the RSC, Jubilee is a mischievous comedy on the cynical foundation of the Shakespeare industry.

In 1769, the famous actor David Garrick is approached by greedy Stratfordian burghers and talked into staging the first theatre festival to celebrate the life of their town’s most famous son. Garrick is persuaded into arranging the festival by three RSC directions, who point out that founding the cult of Shakespeare will make him even more famous, as well as giving RSC directors something to do.

The Jubilee itself was a soggy catastrophe, providing Barnes with ample material for comic exuberance, but Barnes marks it as the starting point of a cultural obsession that deserves some light-hearted ridicule.

Barnes' ironic and irreverent comedy dissects the cult of the theatrical personality, with guest appearances from the Bard himself, Ben Jonson, David Garrick, Samuel Johnson, Trevor Nunn, Sir Peter Hall and Peter Barnes. Jubilee premiered in 2001 at the Swan Theatre, Stratford.

King Ubu

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Alfred Jarry's King Ubu (Ubu Roi) is an absurd farce that riffs on several of Shakespeare’s plays and warns of the dangers of tyranny. It is the first in Jarry's cycle of Ubu plays, all featuring the grotesquely comical character of Pa Ubu. Since its first, riotously-received performance at the Théâtre de l’Oeuvre, Paris, in 1896, it has been recognised as a forerunner to the Surrealist and Modernist movements, and has been hugely influential in world drama.

This translation by Kenneth McLeish was commissioned by Hilary Norrish for the BBC World Service, and was first performed in her production by a cast including Alan Armstrong, Alan Corduner, Pip Donaghy, Richard Pearce, Alison Peebles and Emily Richard.

The first stage production, at the Gate Theatre, London, in April 1997, was directed by John Wright, designed by David Roger and performed by Allison Cologna, Frazer Corbyn, Mark Stuart Currie, Stephen Finegold, Jonathan Ferguson, Joanna Holden, Jonny Hoskins, Richard Katz and Asta Sighvats.

In his introduction to the published text, Kenneth McLeish outlines what happens in the play: 'In King Ubu, Pa Ubu is a cowardly toady, one of the hangers-on of Good King Wenceslas of Baloney. Nagged by his fearsome wife Ma Ubu, he gathers a band of Barmpots, led by the obnoxious Dogpile, assassinates Wenceslas and seizes the throne. He and the Barmpots fight Wenceslas’s army, led by Princes Willy, Silly and Billikins, and defeat them. Billikins escapes to the hills, where the ghosts of his ancestors give him a great big sword and order him to organise resistance.

'Ubu starts his reign by crawling to the people, but soon turns into a tyrant, debraining anyone who disagrees with him, murdering all the aristocrats and middle classes and extorting triple taxes from the peasants. The peasants revolt and go over to Billikins – and Dogpile, whom Ubu has rashly insulted, defects to Tsar Alexis of All the Russkies and leads him and his army to attack Baloney and restore Billikins to the throne. Ma Ubu steals the Balonian state treasure and a handsome Balonian soldier, and flees into exile.

'Defeated in battle, Pa Ubu holes up in a cave with his cronies Wallop and McClub, and barely survives when a bear attacks them. Ma Ubu eventually reaches the same cave. She and Pa Ubu make up their differences, give up all claims to the Balonian throne and set off with Wallop and McClub on a voyage of exile to Engelland.'

Knights

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

When Nikias and Demosthenes discover that their fellow slave, the loud-mouthed Paphlagon, is destined to rule the city of Athens, they immediately set out to find the one man prophesised to defeat him — the local sausage-seller. Paphlagon and the sausage-seller face off in an uproarious battle to win over the hearts and minds of the citizens, using whatever means necessary.

With its simple staging and small cast, Knights is imminently accessible and modern in this translation by Kenneth McLeish. Aristophanes employs bawdy caricature and hard-hitting humour to satirize the most controversial political issues of his day, showing that ultimately, the one thing needed to succeed in politics is the ability to sell sausages.

audio Lady Windermere's Fan

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The irreverent satire that launched Wilde’s succession of classical comedies. A Lord, his wife, her admirer and an infamous blackmailer converge in this delicious comic feast of scandal. A divinely funny comedy of good girls, bad husbands and the moral hypocrisy of British high society in the late nineteenth century.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Gina Field as Lady Agatha Carlisle Judy Geeson as Lady Plymdale Joanna Going as Lady Windermere Arthur Hanket as Mr. Cecil Graham Lisa Harrow as Mrs. Erlynne Dominic Keating as Mr. Hopper Miriam Margolyes as The Duchess of Berwick Roger Rees as Lord Windermere Eric Stoltz as Lord Darlington James Warwick as Lord Augustus Lorton Tom Wheatley as Parker Directed by Michael Hackett. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

Featuring: Gina Field, Judy Geeson, Joanna Going, Arthur Hanket, Lisa Harrow, Dominic Keating, Miriam Margolyes, Roger Rees, Eric Stoltz, James Warwick, Tom Wheatley

Lally the Scut

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The child's down a hole, the mother's up to high doh, the town's up in arms and humanity's down the drain.

Uproarious, occasionally macabre and always compelling, Lally the Scut draws a line in the mud for Northern Ireland.

Lally the Scut premiered at the MAC, Belfast, in a Tinderbox production in April 2015.

Leonardo's Last Supper

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Leonardo’s Last Supper, Peter Barnes explores a theatrical mode in which everything is simultaneously tragic and ridiculous. A family of undertakers in a medieval charnel house prepare to bury Leonardo da Vinci; disposing of the Renaissance genius will be a lucrative coup for the family business, and so the atmosphere is jovial as they dress up as plague doctors and bicker around the corpse. But their dreams of prosperity and perfumed gloves are interrupted when the health of the deceased polymath suddenly improves.

Leonardo’s Last Supper was first presented with Noonday Demons in 1969 at the Open Space Theatre.

Lucky Sods

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Jean and Morris are the lucky sods of the title – they’ve just won the lottery. Morris bought the ticket and picked the numbers, but Jean changed one at the last minute. They sat, they watched, they won, it happened to them. Nothing on Friday and two million pounds on Saturday. But is it a dream come true?

Bad luck seems to follow after good, and as Jean and Morris keep striking gold, their lives are slowly coming apart, unnoticed amidst the glamour of Hollywood and Venice and a new conservatory. Lucky Sods is a hilarious and compassionate comedy about guilt, luck, and superstition, and lives changed forever.

Lucky Sods was first performed in 1995 at the Hull Truck Theatre.

audio The Master and Margarita

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A full-cast audio dramatization of Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic novel. Satan and his retinue, including a seven foot tall skinny fellow with a pince-nez , an obnoxious cigar smoking black cat and a beautiful naked vampire visit Moscow in the 1920s, taking with them chaos and insanity where ever they go.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring David Catlin, Thomas Cox, Lawrence DiStasi, Christine Dunford, Laura Eason, Joy Gregory, Doug Hara, David Kersnar, Mariann Mayberry, Joey Slotnick, Phillip Smith and Andrew White.

Featuring: David Catlin, Thomas Cox, Lawrence DiStasi, Christine Dunford, Laura Eason, Joy Gregory, Doug Hara, David Kersnar, Mariann Mayberry, Joey Slotnick, Phillip Smith, Andrew White

A term that comes from the Latin for ‘medley’ and may have had origins in cooking, though not in the Greek satyr play, as the first Elizabethans believed. Satire uses various types of comic exaggeration to ridicule human institutions or behaviour, in the hope of their being changed or corrected. Among the common devices of satire are irony, parody and caricature. The first known dramatic satires are the plays of Aristophanes, and the tradition extends back beyond these to pre-dramatic Greek lampoons making fun of local figures. Satire, a favourite Roman form, has ever since been associated with the emphases of its two leading practitioners, Horace and Juvenal; Horatian satire is gentler, with some sympathy for its victims, while Juvenal lashes his victims without mercy. Both types of satire have a long and important tradition in the drama: the Horatian from Molière through the goodnatured comedies of Goldsmith to the humane comedies of Chekhov, a good deal of Shaw and the generally sentimentalized tradition of the modern musical comedy; the harsher Juvenalian strain from Jonson through much of the ‘English’ comedy of manners tradition – Wycherly, Wilde, Coward– to many modern black comedy authors (e.g. Joe Orton) and Theatre of the Absurd writers such as Ionesco. Juvenalian satire has also long been a favourite device of politically engaged drama, a tradition that can be traced back to Aristophanes and that would include Henry Fielding and Bertolt Brecht. Together with plays such as Pravda (Hare and Brenton, 1985) or Serious Money (Caryl Churchill, 1987), these examples suggest that Juvenalian satire is often closely related to the political cartoon or caricature, a relation that has been made explicit by modern agitprop and street theatre companies like the American Teatro Campesino and the Bread and Puppet Theater.

from Marvin Carlson, The Continuum Companion to Twentieth-Century Theatre, ed. Colin Chambers (London, 2002).