Plays

Arms and the Man

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Although Arms and the Man derives its title from a translation of Virgil’s phrase ‘arma virumque’ in the Aeneid, it does not reflect the subject or mood of the classical epic poem about mythic heroes waging war. Rather, the play is a light-hearted mixture of domestic and romantic comedy. Additionally, although the Serbo-Bulgarian war of 1885 provides a backdrop for the play, and military action is often discussed amongst the characters, it is never enacted.

The play predominantly deals with class conflict and twisted love affairs, detailing the illicit romance between Raina Petkoff and fugitive Swiss officer Captain Bluntschli, and the equally salacious relationship between Raina’s fiancé, Major Sergius Saranoff, and housemaid Louka. Despite the secrecy of these flirtations, there exist two very obvious tokens of the couples’ respective affection onstage – Saranoff’s coat that Raina gives to Bluntschli, and the bruise that Saranoff leaves on Louka’s arm. As such, George Bernard Shaw renders his somewhat commonplace plot line more interesting with a satirical self-awareness, imbuing the text with obvious theatricality, whimsy, and even burlesque. Rather than imparting a sense of realism, Shaw’s comedy is illusory, fictional, and overtly performative.

Arms and the Man debuted on the London stage in 1894.

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.

The Blinding Light  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Howard Brenton's play The Blinding Light is about the playwright August Strindberg, focussing on a period of crisis in his life when, in 1896, he suffered a mental breakdown in a hotel room in Paris. The play was first performed at the Jermyn Street Theatre, London, on 6 September 2017.

The play is set in February 1896 in a squalid top-floor room in the Hotel Orfila, Rue d’Assas, Paris. The room is occupied by the famous Swedish playwright August Strindberg, who, having abandoned theatre, is living a life of squalid splendour, attempting to make gold by finding the philosopher’s stone, the secret of creation. As his grasp on reality weakens, his first two wives, Siri and Frida, visit him to bring him to his senses. But their interventions spin out of control.

In an introduction to the published script, Howard Brenton writes: 'I wrote The Blinding Light to try to understand the mental and spiritual crisis that August Strindberg suffered in February, 1896. Deeply disturbed, plagued by hallucinations, he holed up in various hotel rooms in Paris, most famously in the Hotel Orfila in the Rue d’Assas. ... Before and after the crisis in Paris he always wanted to make the theatre more real, at first by being true to the minutiae of everyday life – the famous cooking on stage in Miss Julie – then by trying to stage psychological states so vividly you think you are dreaming wide awake. By ‘realist’ or expressionist’ means he wanted audiences to see the world in a new light.'

The Jermyn Street Theatre production was directed by Tom Littler with a set designed by Cherry Truluck for Lucky Bert. It was performed by Laura Morgan, Jasper Britton (as August), Susannah Harker and Gala Gordon.

audio Candida

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Shaw’s warm and witty play challenged conventional wisdom about relationships between the sexes. A beautiful wife must choose between the two men who love her. A Court Theatre Company co-production.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Tom Amandes, Christopher Cartmill, Rebecca MacLean, David New, Nicholas Rudall and JoBeth Williams.

Featuring: Tom Amandes, Christopher Cartmill, Rebecca MacLean, David New, Nicholas Rudall, JoBeth Williams

Creditors (trans. Greig)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Anxiously awaiting the return of his new wife, Adolph finds solace in the words of a stranger. But comfort soon turns to destruction as old wounds are opened, insecurities are laid bare and former debts are settled.

Regarded as Strindberg's most mature work, Creditors is a darkly comic tale of obsession, honour and revenge. David Greig's version premiered at the Donmar Warehouse, London, in September 2008.

Creditors (trans. Meyer)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Creditors describes the marriage of Tekla, a successful author, and her second husband Adolf. Adolf has become depressed about the state of his marriage and seeks the advice of his new friend Gustav, who recommends a novel scheme to solve Adolf's woes. However, this Gustav is not the neutral counsellor Adolf seems to think he is; and his vested interest in Adolf and Tekla's marriage is the source of the great power of this play.

In his introduction, translator Michael Meyer writes: 'Creditors has gradually come to be regarded, both in Scnainavia and elsewhere, as one of Strindberg's most powerful plays . . . Tekla is one of Strindberg's subtlest creations: approaching middle-age and fearful of it, her vulgarity concealed by a veneer of gentility'.

Originally refused by Strindberg's Swedish publishers on the grounds that it was too intimate a portrait of Strindberg's own marriage, Creditors was first published in Danish in 1889 before being printed in Swedish the following year.

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.)'

audio Cyrano de Bergerac

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Cyrano is a brash, strong-willed man of many talents whose whimsical aptitude for the spoken word is overshadowed by an attribute that is iconic, outrageous and gigantic—his nose. How can the curiously-snouted Cyrano ever hope to win the affections of the beautiful Roxane? Includes a conversation with Sue Lloyd, author of “The Man Who Was Cyrano: A Life of Edmond Rostand.” An L.A. Theatre Works full cast recording, featuring Caroline Aaron, Hugo Armstrong, Kalen Harriman, Gregory Itzin, Hamish Linklater, Anna Mathias, Morgan Ritchie, Jason Ritter, André Sogliuzzo, Devon Sorvari, and Matthew Wolf Directed and adapted for radio by Barry Creyton and recorded before a live audience.

Featuring: Caroline Aaron, Hugo Armstrong, Kalen Harriman, Gregory Itzin, Hamish Linklater, Anna Mathias, Morgan Ritchie, Jason Ritter, André Sogliuzzo, Devon Sorvari, Matthew Wolf

audio The Devil's Disciple

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Shaw stands “do or die” melodrama on its head in this tale set during the American Revolution. A young hero who disdains heroism makes the ultimate sacrifice for honor and country.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jennifer Albright, Pat Carroll, Stanton Davis, Bruce Davison, Richard Dix, Richard Dreyfuss, David Bryon Jackson, Lisa Pelikan, Derek Smith and Jon Tindle.

Featuring: Jennifer Albright, Pat Carroll, Stanton Davis, Bruce Davison, Richard Dix, Richard Dreyfuss, David Bryon Jackson, Lisa Pelikan, Derek Smith, Jon Tindle