Philip Ridley


Plays by Philip Ridley

The Fastest Clock in the Universe

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In a strange room in East London the party preparations are under way. Everything has been planned to the last detail. Surely nothing can go wrong? After all, there’s the specially made birthday cake, the specially written cards, the specially chosen guest of honour . . . and a very, very sharp knife.

Philip Ridley’s edgy and provocative drama caused a sensation when it premiered at Hampstead Theatre in 1992, winning the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Newcomer to the Stage and the Meyer Whitworth Prize. It is now regarded as a contemporary classic.

The Fastest Clock in the Universe was revived at Hampstead Theatre on 17 September 2009.

Feathers in the Snow

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Beneath a sky full of stars a decision is made. This decision sets off an astonishing chain of events. And a journey involving a talking leopard, a greedy king, a magical bird, a tidal wave, a sea witch, a lost soldier, a devious dolphin, a war . . . and a trail of feathers in the snow.

This family play by acclaimed playwright and children’s author Philip Ridley is an epic story of magic and migration. Covering over five hundred years – and with scope for a huge cast – Feathers in the Snow explores how stories give meaning to random events . . . and our constant need to find somewhere we call ‘home’.

Feathers in the Snow received its first performance at Southwark Playhouse, London on 5 December 2012.


Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A doorway to a new future is ready to open. We are the hinge of that moment. We will let the door swing wide.

On a beautiful spring evening – when both moons are full – two teenagers vow eternal love. It is a moment that will have cataclysmic consequences. Not just for them, but for the world on which they live. A world where Prom Night is a matter of life or death, where weapons are grown and trained like pets, and where a chosen few are hearing a voice. A voice that speaks of ... Karagula.

Philip Ridley’s extraordinary, form-shattering Karagula is a play of epic proportions. Written in a fractured timescale, it explores our constant need to find meaning. To believe we’re here for a reason. To have faith in something. Faith in ... anything.

Karagula received its world premiere on 10 June 2016 at a secret London location in one of the largest productions ever staged in the Off-West End.

Leaves of Glass

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Leaves of Glass is a sharp, complex play about two brothers and the grim hold that their memories have on them.

Barry is an artist who works for his older brother Stephen’s graffiti-removal company; Stephen is a successful business man with a beautiful wife and house, but absolutely no interest in his wife’s pregnancy. A series of flashback monologues describe the brothers’ father and his suicide, and slowly uncover the depths of their grief and trauma. The play opens on Barry, collapsed drunkenly on the floor of Stephen’s flat and terrified by nightmarish images of a Mr Ghost. Though Barry gives up drinking, the play is still haunted by the ghosts of lies that the family has told to keep going and by the pain they have not been able to bury.

Leaves of Glass was first performed in 2007 at the Soho Theatre, London.

Mercury Fur

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In a ravaged dystopia where there is nothing left to live for, fantasies of death are the best currency.

Mercury Fur is set in a lawless, degraded city, where the British Museum has been looted and the zoo is full of dead animals, and eating the wings of hallucinogenic butterflies lets people watch assassinations of political leaders, or feel they are punching someone in the face. But Elliot and his brother Darren survive by realising their clients’ darkest fantasies are more than just hallucinations. The party that they have been planning has been brought forward to tonight, the light is fading which will make it difficult to film, and the small boy doesn’t look as though he’ll struggle as much as he should do. But events spiral even further out of control and test what the brothers would do to save the person they love.

The world is at its worst: let the party begin.

Mercury Fur premiered in 2005 at the Drum Theatre, Plymouth.


Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

An abandoned home. A lost brother. A secret love story.

Curtis has arranged a meeting in a flat of a derelict tower block. Years ago, when he was a child, Curtis lived happily here but, then, tragedy struck and his elder brother died. Now Curtis is seeing his brother’s ghost. With the aid of Gavin and Tommy, fellow members of the right wing political party of which he is a leading figure, Curtis aims to find out why this ghost is haunting him. Things, however, do not go as planned. For a start, there are two squatters now occupying the flat. And one of them has a story to tell. A story that will change Curtis’s life forever.

Moonfleece is an intense and thrilling exploration of memory and identity, in a story which includes themes of racism, homophobia, and how those in authority distort both the truth and the past. It was first performed at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Road, London, in March 2010.

Piranha Heights

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Piranha Heights is a mercurial and apocalyptic vision of a society at conflict with itself, as family drama quickly becomes deadly confrontation.

It’s Mother’s Day and mother is dead. Now her two sons Alan and Terry return to her flat to argue about who gets to live there. Terry wants to give a home to Lilly (a girl in a hijab who has suffered appalling war-time atrocities), her baby and her boyfriend Medic. Alan wants the flat so that he can live there with his son Garth, whose passion for animal cruelty is encouraged by his sadistic imaginary friend Mr Green. The mixture of the warring brothers with the unhinged and volatile Medic and eventually the gleefully vicious Garth is toxic and explosive, and it is not long before the storm of fury and violence begins.

Piranha Heights premiered in 2008 at the Soho Theatre, London.

The Pitchfork Disney

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Pitchfork Disney heralded the arrival of a unique and disturbing voice in the world of contemporary drama. Manifesting Ridley's vivid and visionary imagination and the dark beauty of his outlook, the play resonates with his trademark themes: East London, storytelling, moments of shocking violence, memories of the past, fantastical monologues, and that strange mix of the barbaric and the beautiful he has made all his own.

The Pitchfork Disney was Ridley's first play and is now seen as launching a new generation of playwrights who were unafraid to shock and court controversy. This unsettling, dreamlike piece has surreal undertones and thematically explores fear, dreams and story-telling. First produced in 1991, it has gone on to be recognised as the annunciation of Ridley's dark and seductive world.

The Pitchfork Disney was first presented at the Bush Theatre, London, on 2 January 1991, in a production directed by Matthew Lloyd.


Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A young couple are moving into their new home. A soldier is being held hostage. Two boys are searching for monsters.

All these things are connected by both family and time . . . but what story can be told when both family and time are broken?

Across twelve years, Shivered unpicks the story of two families and then re-weaves it into something new and startling. Seven people, one war, a derelict car plant, and mysterious lights in the sky . . . all come together in the Essex new-town of Draylingstowe, where the view from green hills once offered hope and prosperity for all.

Visceral yet tender, intimate yet expansive and feverishly imaginative, Philip Ridley’s Shivered is a state-of-the-nation play like no other. Shivered premiered at the Southwark Playhouse on 7 March 2012, in a production directed by Russell Bolam.

Tender Napalm

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Tender Napalm is a high-impact, high-concept two handed play which explores the landscape that is a relationship between a man and a woman. Explosive, poetic and brutal, the play re-examines and redefines a savagely romantic language of love.

Setting, character and narrative remain unspecified. Instead, Tender Napalm is real time drama: simply two people dissecting their relationship through a distorted mixture of memory and imagination, monologues and conversations fusing into a strange and frantic fantasy of sex, violence, conflict and faith. Tender Napalm is a showcase of the imaginative, fantastical and magical poeticisms which Ridley can achieve from the bleak and brutal themes of war and destruction.

Tender Napalm premiered in 2011 at the Southwark Playhouse, London.

Picture of Philip Ridley

Playwright Philip Ridley was born in the East End of London, where he still lives and works. He is a contemporary artist, poet, novelist, film-maker and one of the country's most celebrated living playwrights. Ridley has been described as 'probably a genius' (Time Out), 'a visionary' (Rolling Stone), 'the master of modern myth' (Guardian) and 'the best British playwright of the last 20 years' (Aleks Sierz, author of In-Yer-Face Theatre).