European drama

Plays

13

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

At the beginning of Bartlett’s political and profound epic play, twelve completely different people across London wake up from an identical, terrifying dream – monsters and explosions, thousands of voices. At the same moment, a young man named John returns home after years away to find economic gloom, ineffective protest, and a Prime Minister about to declare war. But John has a vision for the future and a way to make it happen.

Coincidences, omens and visions collide with political reality in this ambitious and dextrous play, which depicts a London both familiar and strange, a London staring into the void.

13 explores the meaning of personal responsibility, the hold that the past has over the future and the nature of belief itself.

The play was first performed in 2011 at the National Theatre, London.

3 Winters

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Tena Štivičić’s play 3 Winters follows a single Croatian family living in Zagreb throughout the vicissitudes of the nation's history between 1945 and 2011. It was first performed in the Lyttelton auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 3 December 2014 (previews from 26 November) and went on to win the 2015 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

The play's action is set in and around the Kos family house in Zagreb, Croatia, in three alternating time periods: November 1945, January 1990, and November 2011 (with the exception of the first scene, which takes place in an office in Zagreb in 1945). In 1945 we see Rose, with her mother, husband and their baby daughter, Maša, moving into a partitioned house at the time of the victory of Tito’s communist partisans. By 1990, Maša and her history-teacher husband, Vlado, are occupying the same house, with their young daughters, at the very moment when Croatia and Slovenia are about to break up the dominant Yugoslavian communist regime. Finally we meet the Kos family in 2011 when Maša’s youngest daughter, Lucija, is about to marry an avaricious entrepreneur and Croatia is on the brink of joining the capitalist club of the European Union.

In an article published on the National Theatre's blog (http://national-theatre.tumblr.com/post/103126868756/tena-%C5%A1tivi%C4%8Di%C4%87-on-3-winters), Štivičić writes: 'The very first moments of inspiration for this play came from stories in my family. My mother’s, my aunt’s, my grandmother’s and even my great grandmother’s when I was very little. These women spoke in very different voices, each with a different set of tools, or in fact, lack of tools to express their circumstances and articulate the plight of their life.'

The National Theatre premiere was directed by Howard Davies and designed by Tim Hatley. It was performed by Charlotte Beaumont, Lucy Black, Susan Engel, Siobhan Finneran, Daniel Flynn, Hermione Gulliford, Jo Herbert, Alex Jordan, Gerald Kyd, James Laurenson, Jonny Magnanti, Jodie McNee, Alex Price, Adrian Rawlins, Sophie Rundle, Bebe Sanders and Josie Walker.

The Absence of War

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The Absence of War offers a meditation on the classic problems of leadership, and is the third part of a critically acclaimed trilogy of plays (Racing Demon, Murmuring Judges) about British institutions.

Its unsparing portrait of a Labour Party torn between past principles and future prosperity, and of a deeply sympathetic leader doomed to failure, made the play hugely controversial and prophetic when it was first presented at the National Theatre, London, in 1993.

Absolutely! (Perhaps)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Absolutely! (Perhaps) is a sparkling comedy on the elusive nature of reality, in which truth is negotiable and identity is performed. It is an adaptation of Luigi Pirandello’s first play Così è (Se Vi Pare), and opened at the Wyndham’s Theatre in 2003.

In a small Italian town lives Signor Ponza, his wife and his apparent mother-in-law Signora Frola, who he will not allow to visit. With the neighbours gossiping over his cruelty, Signor Ponza claims that Signora Frola is mad and refusing to accept that her daughter is dead, and that he now lives with his second wife. Signora Frola counters the accusation, claiming that Ponza has unwittingly re-married his first wife. Impossibly, the Signora Ponza in question claims to be both daughter and second wife, plunging the play into a tangle of fractious theatricality.

After Darwin

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Millie, a director, discusses with her actors, Ian and Tom, how to interpret two famous historical figures from the nineteenth century. It's 1831. The naturalist Charles Darwin is invited to travel with Robert Fitzroy into uncharted waters off the coast of South America aboard 'The Beagle'. Their five year journey is fraught with philosophical and personal tensions. Fitzroy, a staunch Christian, has faith in the unquestionable authority of the Bible; Darwin begins to explore a more radical vision, his theory of natural selection. A meditation on history and human relationships, After Darwin links past and present through these five characters, and raises timeless questions about faith, friendship and how we interpret the past.

After Darwin was first performed in July 1998, at Hampstead Theatre, London.

After Haggerty

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Gathering together the political and social concerns of an era, After Haggerty addresses with breadth and complexity the politics of theatre and personal liberation at a time when social certainties were being rapidly destabilised.

Bernard Link, a socialist middle-aged theatre critic, has leased a flat in London from Mr Haggerty without having met him. Claire, who is sharp, brittle and American, storms into the flat expecting to find the father of her child, but finds Bernard instead. He is having the flat done up by a couple of jobbing decorators, including an out-of-work homosexual actor. The unhappy cohabitation of this mixture of people is punctuated by excepts from Bernard’s pan-European lectures on Marxist theatre, cryptic telegrams from Haggerty in Paris, and the off-stage squalling of Claire and Haggerty’s baby, Raskolnikov. Then Bernard’s father visits, his reactionary, bigoted views clashing with what suddenly feels like a household.

After Haggerty was first presented in 1970 at the Aldwych Theatre, London.

An Afternoon at the Festival

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

An Afternoon at the Festival is an elegantly-structured and reflective meditation on failure.

Leo Brent is an egotistical, successful and middle-aged film-maker. While he is waiting for the four o’clock showing of his new and last film, he spends the morning with a prostitute, Anita: more to find somewhere to sit down than to sleep with her. Back at the house where the film was set, the star — Leo’s ex-wife Dana — is drinking Chablis with his brother, Howard. The play splices these two disconsolate conversations with scenes from Leo’s new film, set in the Victorian era, about the abrasive and eventually violent relationship between a boy and his stepmother. The suggestion, only voiced by Dana, that Leo’s talent is running out sits at the heart of this subtle play.

An Afternoon at the Festival was first presented by Yorkshire Television in 1973.

Afterplay

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

1920s Moscow, a small run-down café. Uncle Vanya's niece, Sonya Serebriakova, now in her forties, is the only customer. Until the arrival of Andrey Prozorov, the put-upon brother from Three Sisters.

Afterplay revisits the lives of two characters from Anton Chekhov's plays. It was first produced, with The Bear (also after Chekhov), at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, in March 2002.

Alaska

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Alaska is a tale of prejudice, sex and aggression, a portrait of unabashed racism.

The audience is introduced to Frank as a drug-dealing self-righteous History student. Having dropped out of university, he works at a cinema kiosk, where his colleagues are attracted to his tense and sullen manner. But brought into contact with Mamta, an Asian co-worker, he soon emerges as a hostile white supremacist, supporting his pseudo-intellectual prejudices by twisting history and quoting Biblical mistranslations. The play’s downward spiral of lies and violence unravels Frank’s desperation and obsession, and discusses identity and race in modern Britain.

The play was first performed at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in 2007.

All of You Mine

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

All of you Mine is a mysterious drama set in a mining community, near 'any one of fourteen ex-pit villages around Doncaster, South Yorkshire, whose pits were closed either as a planned programme, or as a direct result of the 1984 miners' strike.'

Twelve years on from the mining accident which precipitated the closure of the mine and the breaking of the strike, a memorial is being erected to the five men who died. The Cade family lost and gained much from that accident: daughter Verna, now 37, lost the father of her son, while her older brother Danum gained the site for the garden centre which he still runs prosperously at the play's opening. Meanwhile, at the head of the family stands their half-blind mother Cissy, who sees more, and knows more, than she is willing to share freely.

This mysterious family drama, which slowly builds to the revelation that the disaster may not have been so accidental, was described at the time as an eloquent lament for an eclipsed mining community. It premiered at the Bush theatre, London, in 1997.

video All's Well That Ends Well (Globe on Screen)

Globe on Screen
Type: Video

Helena loves the arrogant Bertram, and when she cures the King of France of his sickness, she claims Bertram as her reward. But her brand-new husband, flying from Helena to join the wars, attaches two obstructive conditions to their marriage – conditions he is sure will never be met Stage director: John Dove. Screen director: Robin Lough. Featuring: Michael Bertenshaw, Sam Cox, Sam Crane, Naomi Cranston, John Cummins, Janie Dee, Ben Deery, Mary Doherty, Sophie Duval, Will Featherstone, James Garnon, Peter Hamilton Dyer, Colin Hurley, Ellie Piercy, Laura Darrall, Nicholas Delvalle, Luke McConnell.

The American Pilot

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

A spy plane crash-lands in a remote valley in a distant country. The local villagers take in the wounded pilot and argue his fate. The American Pilot explores the way the world sees America and the way America sees the world.

The American Pilot premiered with the RSC at The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, in April 2005.

Amongst Friends

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Journalist Lara and her ex-MP and crime-writer husband Richard are happy and successful. Having moved to a fashionable gated community they invite their old neighbours Caitlin and Joe to dinner. When the security system fails, the food is delivered by a stranger and the dinner party takes quite a different turn.

April De Angelis's darkly comic social satire Amongst Friends premiered at the Hampstead Theatre, London, in May 2009.

Amy's View

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

It is 1979. Esme Allen is a well-known West End actress at just the moment when the West End is ceasing to offer actors a regular way of life. The visit of her young daughter, Amy, with a new boyfriend sets in train a series of events which only find their shape eighteen years later. A generational play about the long term struggle between a strong mother and her loving daughter, Amy's View mixes love, death and the theatre in a way which is both heady and original.

Amy's View was first performed at the National Theatre, London, in June 1997, and transferred to the Aldwych Theatre in January 1998.

And A Nightingale Sang . . .

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A family try their best to get on with their lives as the bombs fall around them in Taylor’s warm and sincere play, which follows their loves, fears and joys through World War Two.

And A Nightingale Sang . . . opens just before the beginning of the war on a house in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne filled with well-meant and bustling domestic chaos. The scenes are partly related by Helen, who is stoical and self-deprecating and walks with a limp. Her grandfather Andie is recruiting mourners to attend the burial of his dog; her devout Catholic mother is fretting about the health of the local priest; her father is serenading an unwilling audience with the popular songs that light up the whole play. Joyce, Helen’s younger, prettier sister is dithering over whether to accept a marriage proposal from Eric, who is being deployed to France. Helen, depended on for guidance by the whole family, has never had any attention from men – until she meets Norman, who shows her that she can waltz and fall in love. But for all the family, nothing can be the same after the war.

And A Nightingale Sang . . . was first staged in 1977 by Live Theatre in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and was presented in this version at the Queen’s Theatre, London, in 1979.

Another Door Closed

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Have you grown hard? Is that it? You were never hard then, you know. Just two spoiled daughters. Two little, selfish daughters. Two unemancipated daughters. Without her you have become hard, is that it? She was so soft, you see.

Two elderly sisters get an unexpected visit from a younger man. It appears, many years ago, the sisters' mother had been very kind to him.

Peter Gill's Another Door Closed premiered at the Theatre Royal, Bath, in August 2009.

audio Antigone (Anouilh)

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

"The body of Polynices, Antigone's brother, has been ordered to remain unburied by Creon, the new king of Thebes. Antigone's faithfulness to her dead brother and his proper burial, and her defiance of the dictator Creon, seals her fate. Originally produced in Paris during the Nazi occupation, Anouilh's Antigone was seen by the French as theatre of the resistance and by the Germans as an affirmation of authority.

Includes an interview with translator Christopher Nixon and director Brendon Fox. Also includes an interview with Ned Chaillet, a playwright, radio producer and director for the BBC. Chaillet is the former Deputy Drama Critic for the Times of London and the London theatre critic for the Wall Street Journal-Europe. He spoke with us about Antigone in the context of World War Two, the differences bewtween the original myth of Sophocles and the Anouilh version, and Anouilh’s influence on later playwrights. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Jordan Bridges as Haemon and Guard Dominic Fumusa as Guard Francis Guinan as Creon John Hansen as Guard and Messenger Alan Mandell as Chorus Elizabeth Marvel as Antigone Alley Mills as Nanny Mandy Siegfried as Ismene Directed by Brendon Fox. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles."

Featuring: Jordan Bridges, Dominic Fumusa, Francis Guinan, Alan Mandell, Elizabeth Marvel, Alley Mills, Mandy Siegfried, John Hansen

The Antigone of Sophocles

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In his book The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht, John Willett writes of The Antigone of Sophocles: 'Perhaps two-thirds of the play follows the Hölderlin version, but even here Brecht has largely reshaped the verse so that although much of the sense, many of the images, and even the words themselves are the same as Hölderlin's the cadence is different. Almost indistinguishable in style, his new passages are woven into this. Considerable changes result. A prologue set in Berlin of 1945 shows two sisters whose brother has deserted from the German army and is found hanged: should they risk being seen by the SS cutting his body down? In the play itself Creon becomes a brutal aggressor who has attacked Argos for the sake of its iron ore; Polyneikes deserts in protest against this war which has killed his brother; and Antigone is partly moved by a like disapproval of her uncle's policy.'

The Antigone of Sophocles was conceived as a new experiment in the epic theatre, and is linguistically an extraordinary composition. It was first produced in February 1948.

Any Which Way

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Stefan and Akin have known each other since childhood. But growing up, they grew apart. Now Akin lies dead. And Stefan walks through London's streets, trying to face up to what he's done.

Any Which Way opened at the Only Connect Theatre, London, in November 2008.

April in Paris

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

April in Paris is a delicately wrought comedy filled with raucous indelicate dialogue. Al and Bet are a married couple, living a monochrome life. Left half-broke by Al's continuing unemployment, the couple bicker about everything from having no hot water, to Al's uninspired black-and-white paintings to Bet's obsession with magazine competitions.

When Bet finally wins one – the prize being a trip for two to Paris – there is the glimmer of romantic hope for a complete reversal of fortunes. Instead, it is in the slow gains, the addition of colour and the learning to be nice to one another again that gives this play its surprising, uplifting dénouement.

April in Paris was first performed by Hull Truck theatre Company in 1992, with the author and his wife playing Al and Bet respectively.

audio Arcadia

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” merges science with human concerns and ideals, examining the universe’s influence in our everyday lives and ultimate fates through relationship between past and present, order and disorder and the certainty of knowledge. Set in an English country house in the year 1809-1812 and 1989, the play examines the lives of two modern scholars and the house's current residents with the lives of those who lived there 180 years earlier.

The New York Times calls Arcadia: “Tom Stoppard’s richest, most ravishing comedy to date. A play of wit, intellect, language, brio and emotion,” and The Royal Institution of Great Britain calls it: “the best science book ever written.” Includes an interview with Steven Strogatz, the author of Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos and Professor at the Cornell University School of Theoretical and Applied Mathematics. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Kate Burton as Hannah Mark Capri as Chater Jennifer Dundas as Thomasina Gregory Itzin as Bernard Nightingale David Manis as Cpt. Brice Christopher Neame as Noakes and Jellaby Peter Paige as Valentine Darren Richardson as Augustus Kate Steele as Chloe Serena Scott Thomas as Lady Croom Douglas Weston as Septimus Directed by John Rubinstein. Recorded at the Invisible Studios, West Hollywood. Arcadia 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: Kate Burton, Mark Capri, Jennifer Dundas, Gregory Itzin, David Manis, Christopher Neame, Peter Paige, Darren Richardson, Kate Steele, Serena Scott Thomas, Douglas Weston

The Arcata Promise

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Arcata Promise is a study of the grotesque self-pity of an unstable actor, a merciless account of individual self-delusion and failure.

Once a successful actor, Gunge now lives in a grimy basement, arguing with a disembodied Voice and fantasising about violence. Glimpses of him prowling the stage as Richard II are intercut with memories of his relationship with Laura, a young woman who believed his promise of eternal devotion, but became gradually disillusioned as his alcoholism and hostility emerged. The sudden appearance of Tony, a valet, in Gunge’s squalid residence fractures Gunge’s reality and psyche even further, bringing Mercer’s story of tortured attraction to a destructive conclusion.

The Arcata Promise was first presented by Yorkshire Television in 1974.

The Architect

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Architect is a play of crumbling walls and relationships, about the eternally disappointing gap between an idea and its reality.

At the play’s centre is Leo, once a highly successful architect, now in charge of designing ‘access’, or in other words, car parks. In the seventies he built a high-concept and cheap-to-build housing estate shaped like Stonehenge, which won awards and praise for its innovation from everyone except the uncomfortable residents.

Now, as they petition for it to be knocked down and rebuilt, Leo finds that his family is collapsing too. His wife is obsessed by pervasive pollution, unable to move for fear of pesticides and decay. His son is lost in day-dreams about jobs he will never get, and a tense, destructive relationship with a man he met in a public toilet, while his daughter hitchhikes all night with long-distance lorry drivers.

The Architect is a taut, barbed story about vision and the cold light of day. Greig’s play was first performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh in 1996.

Ariel

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Fermoy Fitzgerald, a Irish midlands politician, haunted by the ghosts of the past and enthralled by dreams of the future, will sacrifice everything in pursuit of power – even the lives of his wife and family. On the day of his daughter Ariel's sixteenth birthday, he makes a terrifying bargain with God

Ariel was first performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in October 2002.

audio Arms and the Man

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

It's 1885, and Raina's bourgeois Bulgarian family is caught up in the heady patriotism of the war with Serbia. The beautiful, headstrong Raina eagerly awaits her fiancé's victorious return from battle - but instead meets a soldier who seeks asylum in her bedroom. This is one soldier who definitely prefers romance and chocolate to fear and bullets. War may be raging on the battlefield, but it's the battle of the sexes that heats up this extraordinary comedy and offers very different notions of love and war.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Al Espinosa, Jeremy Sisto, Teri Garr, Anne Heche, Micahel Winters, Jason Kravits and Sarah Rafferty.

Featuring: Al Espinosa, Jeremy Sisto, Teri Garr, Anne Heche, Micahel Winters, Jason Kravits, Sarah Rafferty

Arrah-na-Pogue

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Written in 1864 and set during the Irish rebellion of 1798, Arrah na Pogue is an rollicking tale of romance and misadventure with rascally rebels, despicable villains and love-struck youths.

As night falls on the Wicklow mountains, the popular but incorrigible rebel Beamish MacCaul is lying in wait. He’s out to ambush the cowardly rent-collector Michael Feeny and collect some rent from him in turn. That done, he’s off to marry Fanny Power. Down in the valley, love is in the air for Shaun the Post and the play’s heroine Arrah Meelish too. But Arrah has a secret, and Michael Feeny has found it out. As Shaun and Arrah celebrate their wedding, revenge comes a-calling. Now love must conquer all – including the hangman’s noose. The play is brim-full of Boucicault’s trademark comic roguery, farce and melodrama.

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 Art

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

How much would you pay for a painting with nothing on it? Would it be “art”? Marc’s best friend Serge has just bought a very expensive – and very white – painting. To Marc, it is a joke, and as battle lines are drawn, old friends use the painting to settle scores. With friendships hanging in the balance, the question becomes: how much is a work of “art” worth? A Tony Award winner for Best Play and Oliver Award winner for Best Comedy.

Includes interviews with actors Bob Balaban and Brian Cox, as well as an interview with translator Christopher Hampton.

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

Bob Balaban as Serge

Brian Cox as Marc

Jeff Perry as Yvan

Directed by Peter Levin. Translated by Christopher Hampton. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Bob Balaban, Brian Cox, Jeff Perry

'Art'

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Serge has bought a modern work of art for a large sum of money. Marc hates the painting and cannot believe that a friend of his could possibly want such a work. Yvan attempts, unsuccessfully, to placate both sides with hilarious consequences. The question is: Are you who you think you are or are you who your friends think you are?

'Art' in this translation was first performed at Wyndham's Theatre, London, in October 1996.

In 1998, the play received the Evening Standard and Laurence Olivier awards for Best Comedy and the Tony and New York Drama Critics' Circle awards for Best Play.

The Art of Success

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Eighteenth century London. The world of art is on the brink of transformation, about to spread from the drawing rooms of the rich to public houses across the country. Compressing the events of ten tumultuous years into a single night, Nick Dear uncovers the hidden world of seminal artist William Hogarth. The Art of Success is a raucous play with resonant debates about gender, sex, hedonism in the face of censorship and the responsibility of the artist.

The Art of Success by Nick Dear was first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, in July 1986.

The Ash Girl

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

When an invitation to The Ball arrives at the Ash girl's house, from Prince Amir, she can't bring herself to believe that she, like her sisters, can go. With her mother dead and her father away, she must learn to fight the monsters that have slithered and insinuated their way into her heart and mind. In this wondrous drama Timberlake Wertenbaker explores the beauty and terror inherent in growing up.

The Ash Girl premiered at Birmingham Rep in 2001.

The Astonished Heart

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Astonished Heart is the story of a happily married psychiatrist who gradually sinks under the emotional pressure of falling passionately in love with his wife’s friend Leonora. Christian is tortured by jealousy and by his acute professional awareness of his obsession, gradually losing his control but not his fascinating articulacy.

The Astonished Heart 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.

video As You Like It (Globe on Screen)

Globe on Screen
Type: Video

As You Like It runs the glorious gamut of pastoral romance: cross-dressing and love-notes; poetry and brilliant conversation; gentle satire, slapstick and passion Stage director: Thea Sharrock. Screen director: Kriss Russman. Featuring: Michael Benz, Philip Bird, Naomi Frederick, Peter Gale, Brendan Hughes, Sean Kearns, Jack Laskey, Trevor Martin, Tim McMullan, Jamie Parker, Laura Rogers, Dominic Rowan, Ewart James Walters, Sophie Duval, Jade Williams, Gregory Gudgeon.

At the Inland Sea

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

At The Inland Sea is a strange, searing, dream-like play, showing a child coming face to face with humanity, and all its horror and neglect.

As a boy prepares for the first day of his exams, fussed over by his mother, he meets a woman from the past, and her baby, and the soldiers with rifles who are coming to take them away. The woman tells him about the hardness of her life, and demands a story from him, which will stop the soldiers, but the boy can’t find one that will work. Following his desperate search for a story to save them, the play is a struggle of imagination and compassion, the crux of humanity.

At The Inland Sea is subtitled a play for young people; it was written for the Big Brum Theatre-in-Education company, and was toured to schools and colleges in the West Midlands in 1995.

Baal

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The classic wandering-poet archetype of the Expressionist movement receives a dark makeover in Bertolt Brecht’s Baal. Brecht’s first full-length play portrays the seductions and manipulations of a dissolute poet with an inexplicable appeal to women. Baal descends from a civilised dining room to a hut in the woods, leaving a path of destruction in his wake.

First performed in Leipzig in 1923, Baal represents an early, almost pre-political stage in Brecht’s career, and shows the playwright experimenting with elements that would become his trademarks, such as the use of song. Even as a young writer, however, Brecht provoked controversy: Baal was immediately shut down by order of the city council of Leipzig.

Babies

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Babies is a warm-hearted, buoyant and very funny comedy about homosexuality and judgement in a working-class setting.

Liverpudlian Joe Casey is twenty-four and a form tutor at a south-east London comprehensive. Alternately advising and battening down a group of fourteen-year-olds with a mixture of naivety and Scouse nous, Joe keeps his homosexuality a secret from the insult-slinging Year Nines. At home, he is flummoxed by his partner Woody’s reliance on drugs. Then there is a pupil’s birthday party to negotiate: Joe must fend off the advances of her rapacious, wisecracking mum, only to find himself entangled with her uncle.

Based on Harvey’s own experiences as a teacher, but with a comic spring in its step, Babies premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in 1994.

Bad Roads  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Natal'ya Vorozhbit's Bad Roads is a play about life in war-torn Ukraine, focussing in particular on the war's impact on women. It was developed by the Royal Court International Department, and first performed in this English translation by Sasha Dugdale at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London, on 15 November 2017.

The play has six scenes, each one exploring a facet of the war. In the first scene, a Kiev-based writer tells the story of a research trip she made to the battle zone a year after the siege of Donetsk airport, and how she fell for her patriotic escort. The ensuing scenes show teenage girls eagerly waiting for soldiers, a female medic transporting her lover’s headless corpse, and a young journalist outwitting her captor.

The premiere production was directed by Vicky Featherstone and designed by Camilla Clarke. It was performed by Ronke Adekoluejo, Samuel Anderson, Vincent Ebrahim, Anne Lacey, Tadhg Murphy, Mike Noble and Ria Zmitrowicz.

Bailegangaire

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Bailegangaire, an endless folk story told by a senile old woman is woven through her granddaughters’ arguments and struggles to free themselves from her.

Night after night, in lyrical and relentless detail, Mommo begins to relate the story of a laughing competition in Bailegangaire and how the town came by its name – ‘the town without laughter’. Of her two granddaughters, she only recognises Dolly, and not Mary who does most to look after her. The younger women yearn to be free of the past in order to make a new beginning, and Mary comes to believe that to do so the story of Bailegangaire has to be concluded.

In Mommo, Tom Murphy has created one of the greatest female characters of twentieth-century Irish literature. The play was first performed by Druid Theatre Company, Galway, in 1985.

The Bankrupt

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

David Mercer’s play is a bleakly comic study of the introspective amnesia of Ellis Cripper, who has emerged from his recent dishonourable bankruptcy into a personal crisis, with no idea of how to construct his life.

He dreams of summoning a series of historical figures, who propose a series of abstract and general answers to his existential crisis, but neither their adages nor the analyses of doctors and psychiatrists are satisfactory. The play flickers between these conjurations, and Ellis’s visit to his father, his sister and her husband, who try to offer their own structures of Ellis’s existence. But Ellis would rather talk to worms, invoke Hamlet, and write down his dreams.

The Bankrupt is a darkly effective play about a man’s struggle for significance. It was first presented by BBC Television on BBC1, in 1972.

Barnes’ People: Eight Monologues

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Barnes’ People is a series of wonderfully varied monologues from deeply imagined individuals. Whether their stories are historical, fantastic or familiar, they are always intimate and human.

‘Confessions of a Primary Terrestrial Mental Receiver and Communicator: Num III Mark I’ is spoken by a man who finds a meaning for his life through covert correspondence with aliens.

‘The Jumping Mimuses of Byzantium’, spoken by an aged hermit, is based on a legend of a tumbling jester and a wanton prostitute with a nocturnal secret.

‘The Theory and Practise of Belly-Dancing’ is about finding a way to survive the everyday.

‘The End of the World – And After’ is spoken by William Miller, a preacher who amassed a large following by predicting that Christ’s Second Coming would occur in 1844.

A one-hundred-and-thirteen year old woman tells an interviewer about her calmly scurrilous life in ‘Yesterday’s News’.

‘Glory’ is the final oration of Peregrinus Proteus, an Ancient Greek philosopher famous for parricide, before he steps on to his own funeral pyre.

In ‘No End to Dreaming’, an old man tells his psychoanalyst about growing up in the Cracow ghetto and about his dreams.

The monologues were presented by BBC Radio 3 in 1981.

Bazaar & Rummage

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Sue Townsend’s heartfelt comedy, three severely agoraphobic women have left their houses for the first time in years, and made it to a jumble sale. The sale has been organised by their social workers, the young trainee Fliss and the ex-agoraphobic volunteer Gwenda, though as the afternoon progresses, the distinction between them and the anxious people they are supposed to be looking after becomes less and less clear.

As Margaret, Bell-Bell and Katrina prepare to meet the public, armed with the suits of a deceased husband, old sequinned show dresses, bric-a-brac and a standard lamp, nerves and neuroses are running high, and a sensitive portrait of the suffering behind their phobia emerges.

Bazaar and Rummage was first presented in 1982 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London.

The Bear (after Chekhov)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Elena Popova, a young and attractive widow, has immersed herself in the role of mourning for her once philandering late husband. Luka, her frail and ancient man-servant, tries in vain to snap her out of it. Then Smirnov barges in.

The Bear (after Chekhov) was first produced, with Afterplay, at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, in March 2002.

Beautiful Thing

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Upliftingly optimistic, Harvey’s play about two teenage boys falling in love refuses melodramatic clichés to offer a story bright with sensitivity, pathos and wit.

Sixteen-year-old Jaime lives with his mum Sandra and her younger boyfriend in a low-rise block of flats in Thamesmead, London. Living next door is the rowdy Leah, who has been expelled from school and spends her days sunning herself and listening to Mama Cass. And on the other side is Ste, also sixteen. His father’s anger means that he often hides out in Jaime and Sandra’s flat, spending the night there to escape being beaten. Ste and Jaime start off top-and-tailing in Jaime’s bed, since there’s nowhere else to sleep, and Harvey unfolds their tentative, awkward relationship with delicacy and with joy.

Beautiful Thing’s crisply authentic dialogue darts between aching, soul-searching emotion and sharp winning comedy, perfectly capturing the thrill of a first love. Beautiful Thing was first performed in 1993 at the Bush Theatre, London.

audio Becket, or The Honor of God

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Waiting to be punished for his part in Becket's murder, King Henry II re-lives his deeply felt relationship with the saint, once his dearest friend and partner in unbridled decadence. His catastrophic mistake? To appoint Becket Archbishop - for Becket finds his allegiance shifting from king and country to God and Church.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Asher Book, Kevin Daniels, Ken Danziger, Jean Gilpin, Alan Mandell, Charlie Matthes, Tim Monsion, Denis O' Hare, Jennifer Rau-Ramirez, Simon Templeman, John Vickery, Douglas Westen and Greg Woodell.

Featuring: Asher Book, Kevin Daniels, Ken Danziger, Jean Gilpin, Alan Mandell, Charlie Matthes, Tim Monsion, Denis O' Hare, Jennifer Rau-Ramirez, Simon Templeman, John Vickery, Douglas Westen, Greg Woodell

The Beggar or The Dead Dog

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

As a young university student in Munich, Bertolt Brecht was only a few years away from early success as a playwright when he wrote five one-acts. Of these plays, only one was performed in his lifetime, and none were published until after his death. They provide a retrospective look at Brecht before his evolution into the founder of epic theatre, demonstrating some of the tendencies that would mark his later work.

In The Beggar, a beggar dares to speak the truth to an emperor when the emperor descends to complain about the smell. It was neither produced nor published during the author’s lifetime.

Being Norwegian

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Sean, just out of prison, invites Lisa back to his flat for a drink. Lisa says she's Norwegian. Is Sean Norwegian too? In this dark, funny encounter two outsiders reach out to each other across the deep fjords of the heart.

'In Norway we're used to darkness in people's heads. We even prefer it. Because if there is no darkness then what in heaven's name are you thinking about? We Norwegians think people who are happy are perhaps just a little above themselves, don't you?'

Being Norwegian was first broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland in December 2003 and first performed for the stage, in a coproduction between A Play, a Pie and a Pint and Paines Plough, at Òran Mór, Glasgow, in October 2007.

The Belle of the Belfast City

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Belle of Belfast City is a story of loyalty, both political and familial. At its centre is Dolly, once a music-hall star, whose ballads and memories weave through the play recalling the past. Vi, the elder of her daughters, stayed with her in Belfast, while the younger Rose has travelled all over the world as a journalist. She returns, bringing with her for the first time her mixed-race and illegitimate daughter Belle, who is named for her grandmother’s stage name. The extended family also includes the Protestant Loyalist fundamentalist Jack, and his sister Janet.

Against the background of protests about the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the play confronts different models of Loyalism and allegiance, a rich and honest lament.

The Belle of Belfast City was first produced in 1989 by the Lyric Players Theatre in Belfast.

Be Near Me

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Father David Anderton is assigned to a crippled Scottish town on the Ayrshire coast, where sectarianism is rife. He is a cultivated, if naive and unworldly, man, ill-suited to his new parish. Drifting from his peers, he is drawn to Mark and Lisa, a feral teenage couple who attend the nearby school. Their untamed nights of booze and drugs are as exotic and entrancing to him as his solitary and cloistered life is to them.

But, as events take a perilous direction, this combustible liaison will leave Father David's world in pieces.

Adapted for the stage by Ian McDiarmid from the Booker Prize nominated novel by Andrew O'Hagan, Be Near Me premiered in a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and the Donmar Warehouse in January 2009.

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.

B for Baby

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

B for Baby is a tender, sharp-witted play set in a residential care home for people with severe learning disabilities. Treating this taboo subject with humanity and humour, the play's acute and compassionate portraits result in a moving, if at times uncomfortable, drama.

Mrs C wants a baby not a Christmas tree. B wants a real hairdresser's scissors and a wife. D wants a snow globe and to have curly hair. All of them want their own place in the world. And if they can't find it, they'll create one of their own. The play follows B and D, and Mrs C their carer, on their journey towards happiness.

Poignantly exploring forbidden topics, B for Baby invites the reader or audience to rediscover the power and joy of make-believe. The play was first presented by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in 2010.

For a comprehensive overview of each European state's drama, please visit each region's landing page.