European drama

Plays

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.