Post-WWII: 1945-1980

Plays

Beside Herself

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

St. Dymphna's is a halfway house for people with mental illness. On the board of management there sits Evelyn, an MP's wife, who is struggling desperately to make people like her; helping her father round the house, acceding to colleagues' requests and absorbing the stress she is quite obviously feeling, her innermost thoughts voiced to the audience by the otherwise unseen Eve.

For it seems that Evelyn is also not well, the spectre of mental illness dogging her as she puts on a timid, polite manner and faces the world as though nothing is the matter.

Named after the patron saint of the mentally ill – a girl whose father tried to seduce her then murdered her when she refused – St. Dymphna's Community Group Home becomes not just a place of work for Evelyn, but a safer space in which she can work out the problems afflicting her, and cut right to the source that caused them.

Beside Herself was first performed by the Women's Playhouse Trust at the Royal Court, London, on 29 March 1990.

audio The Best Man

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

This darkly satirical drama by Gore Vidal finds two presidential contenders seeking the endorsement of an aging ex-president, and explores how personal agendas can change the course of a nation's destiny. The political intrigues rampant in Vidal's 1960 setting are strangely similar what is going on today. Includes an interview with actors Fred Thompson and Marsha Mason.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Terrence Currier, Johnny Holliday, Naomi Jacobson, Timmy Ray James, Michael Kramer, Marsha Mason, Paul Morella, Kevin Murray, Judy Simmons, Gary Sloan and Fred Thompson.

Featuring: Terrence Currier, Johnny Holliday, Naomi Jacobson, Timmy Ray James, Michael Kramer, Marsha Mason, Paul Morella, Kevin Murray, Judy Simmons, Gary Sloan, Senator Fred Thompson

The Bewitched

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Bewitched is an astounding carousel of the grotesque and the lyrical, the baroque and the intimate, the horrific and the comic; Barnes’s vast play tells the story of Spain’s ill-fated King Carlos II in a luminous and visceral style.

In the seventeenth century, Spain’s political stability hinged on the continuation of the sovereign bloodline. Unfortunately Carlos, the son conceived by the elderly King Philip IV in the opening scene, has epilepsy, distorted limbs, impaired speech and mental confusion, the tragic result of centuries of royal inbreeding; in Carlos, the famous Hapsburg jaw had become so prominent that he could not chew. The play traces the grim attempts of his court to engineer the conception of an heir, involving a desperate exorcism and the burning of heretics as an aphrodisiac. Barnes offers a searing examination of the belief that certain persons are entitled to hold power, and a tragic account of a life of suffering, charged with pain and cold poetry.

The Bewitched was first presented in 1974 at the Aldwych Theatre, London.

Bingo

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Bingo, subtitled Scenes of Money and Death, uses the last days of a brooding and unheroic William Shakespeare to accuse art and capitalism of vile inhumanity.

Historical evidence suggests that not long before his death Shakespeare agreed to the enclosure of common land near Stratford, which was beneficial to landowners such as Shakespeare, but disastrous for small tenants and the parish’s poor. For Bond this incident is laced with damning echoes of King Lear’s injustices, and motivates his portrayal of the writer as a bourgeois and apolitical capitalist, more occupied with his profits and rents than with the distress of those who depended on the land.

The Shakespeare of Bingo is no national treasure; fretful, impassive and guilty, he is moved to splintered eloquence by the plight of a baited bear and a hanged vagrant woman, but is too slow to see the inhumanity and cruelty of his own position.

Bingo is a thorny cry against exploitation and passivity, and an original and coldly compelling portrait of the revered writer. It was first performed in 1973 at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter.

Bones

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In a rundown porn cinema in 1960s Gateshead, two Jewish brothers are at war with each other. Their business is on the verge of bankruptcy and they owe a shedload of money to a local gangster. But all their problems seem to be over when one of them kidnaps Reggie Kray . . .

Sharp, uncompromising and witty, Bones is a deliciously dark comedy about family ties, gangland warfare and a man in a dress.

Bones premiered at Live Theatre, Newcastle in 1999.

Breezeblock Park

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Set on a Liverpool Housing estate in the run up to Christmas, Breezeblock Park is a comedy about the ups and downs of family life. Betty is preparing the decorations for her guest, and making her house neat and tidy for her guests. But what she hopes will be a respectable Christmas gathering of her daughter Sandra, brother Tim and sister Reeny, becomes a maelstrom of drunken bickering and petty recriminations when Sandra reveals the shocking news that she is pregnant.

One of Russell's first plays, Breezeblock Park was first presented in 1975 at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool before transferring to London that same year.

audio The Browning Version

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In Terence Rattigan’s classic drama, an aging schoolmaster at an English secondary school faces the harsh judgments of his students, his fellow teachers, and his vicious and spiteful wife. But can a lone act of kindness from a sympathetic student change his heart?

This recording also includes an interview with Michael Darlow, the author of “Terence Rattigan: The Man and His Work”. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Steven Brand as Frank Hunter Martin Jarvis as Andrew Crocker-Harris Ian Ogilvy as The Headmaster Darren Richardson as Peter Gilbert Devon Sorvari as Mrs. Gilbert Kate Steele as Millie Crocker-Harris Daniel Stewart as John Taplow Directed by Peter Levin. Recorded by L.A. Theatre Works before a live audience.

Featuring: Steven Brand, Martin Jarvis, Ian Ogilvy, Darren Richardson, Devon Sorvari, Kate Steele, Daniel Stewart

The Bundle: or New Narrow Road to the Deep North

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Bundle, or New Narrow Road to the Deep North is a compelling and forceful story exploring the origins and mechanisms of moral concepts through cruel ethical dilemmas.

Like Bond’s Narrow Road to Deep North, the play begins with the discovery of an abandoned child on a riverbank. The poet Basho who is searching for enlightenment protests that he cannot take it with him, so reluctantly the ferryman adopts the child though he can barely afford to feed another person. The play first describes the boy’s upbringing within the social values of his community, before turning to revolution to dissect and rework accepted attitudes and ideologies. The Bundle weaves together lives beset with social injustices and torn by agonizing choices, with the moral force of parable and the scope and depth of epic.

The Bundle was first performed in 1978 at the Warehouse Theatre, London.

audio Buried Child

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

It's a curious homecoming for Vince, the son nobody seems to remember. Violence is never far from the surface as his unexpected return uncovers a deep, dark secret that triggers catastrophe in Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize winning Buried Child.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:

Hale Appleman as Vince

Tom Bower as Dodge

John Getz as Father Dewis

Amy Madigan as Halie

Robert Parsons as Tilden

Jeff Perry as Bradley

Madeline Zima as Shelly

Directed by Peter Levin. Recorded before a live audience at the James Bridges Theater at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in December, 2011.

Featuring: Hale Appleman, Tom Bower, John Getz, Amy Madigan, Robert Parsons, Jeff Perry, Madeline Zima

The Business of Good Government

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Business of Good Government was written for and first performed in 1960 in the village of Brent Knoll, Somerset. Telling the traditional story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, it focuses less on the divine and miraculous, and more on the geopolitical forces at play in Herod's kingdom.

Under threat of Roman invasion from the west and Persian invasion from the East, Herod is disconcerted to receive a party of Persian delegates, wise men, whom he fears are spies for his neighbour. Realising the threat that might come from a child born which might match and ancient prophecy, he issues an edict to slaughter all males aged under two-years-old.

In spite of this heinous crime, The Business of Good Government presents a not altogether unsympathetic portrait of that infamous king, in whom we can perhaps see echoes of calculated government policy in modern times.

Still, it is the goodness of Joseph and Mary, who parent a newborn, then bear it to safety out of a hostile kingdom, which shines through. The Business of Good Government is a traditional, if human, version of the story of Jesus' birth, and was first performed in Brent Knoll's Church of St. Michael, in 1960.