Plays

The Deep Blue Sea

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Terence Rattigan's play The Deep Blue Sea is a portrait of a woman caught between forbidden love and the fear of loneliness, or the devil and the deep blue sea. It is now considered one of Rattigan's greatest triumphs. The play was first produced at the Duchess Theatre, London, on 6 March 1952.

The play's action takes place in the sitting-room of a furnished flat in a tenement block in the north-west of London, over the course of a single day. It begins with the discovery of a body lying in front of a gas fire. Hester Collyer has left her barrister husband, Sir William Collyer, to live with Freddie Page, an alcoholic fighter pilot from the last war. Injured beyond endurance by his continual failure to return her passion, she has tried to commit suicide, and has only failed because the gas meter ran out before she could complete the act. She is discovered by four other residents of the tenement block: a married couple, Philip and Ann Welch, the landlady, Mrs Elton, and a mysterious ex-doctor, Mr Miller. The play follows Hester through the rest of the day as the consequences of her attempt induce Freddie to leave her, and threaten to push her towards a second suicide attempt.

Commentators have drawn parallels between Hester’s tragic story and that of Rattigan’s ex-lover, Kenneth Morgan, who committed suicide on 28 February 1949. Both homosexuality and attempted suicide were illegal in the 1950s, which is perhaps part of what draws Hester to the ex-doctor Mr Miller, who has been struck off the medical list for an offence that is only hinted at, but which is clearly homosexuality. The portrait of Hester has been highly praised for its emotional resonance and its portrayal of depression and the shame that it can evoke in its sufferer.

The premiere at the Duchess Theatre was directed by Frith Banbury, with David Aylmer as Philip Welch, Barbara Leake as Mrs Elton, Ann Walford as Ann Welch, Peggy Ashcroft as Hester Collyer, Peter Illing as Mr Miller, Roland Culver as William Collyer, Kenneth More as Freddie Page and Raymond Francis as Jackie Jackson.

In his introduction accompanying the published edition of the play (Nick Hern Books, 1999), Rattigan scholar Dan Rebellato describes the play as 'a towering and brutally bleak meditation on the cruel consequences of one skirmish between sexual desire and social repression'.

Gladly Otherwise

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

N. F. Simpson led the twentieth-century British absurdist movement. Gladly Otherwise is an early sketch of his, first performed as part of the revue One to Another, which opened at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, on 15 July 1959, and transferred to the Apollo Theatre, London, on 19 August 1959.

Gladly Otherwise was revived with his play A Resounding Tinkle at the Donmar Warehouse in July 2007.

Hedda Gabler (trans. Meyer)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Hedda Gabler is a hard and brilliant tragedy on the purposelessness of life, and a comment on the difficulty of finding personal fulfilment in the stifling world of late nineteenth century bourgeois society, particularly for women.

The eponymous Hedda is an electrically complex woman bored to death by her suburban life. Recently married to George Tesman, an academic happily absorbed in his obscure research, she returns from their honeymoon to a handsomely furnished house and a meaningless existence. In the drawing room, with an insidious judge, a wayward visionary writer and his loyal wife, she impulsively creates a dark, mercurial, anxious drama.

Ibsen wrote Hedda Gabler in Munich in 1890 shortly before his return to Norway. The play initially met with universal condemnation and misunderstanding. This translation was first performed in 1960 at the 4th Street Theatre, New York.

Here I Belong

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Matt Hartley's Here I Belong is a play about a rural village community and the changes that affect it over several decades, seen through the eyes of one village resident. It was first produced by Pentabus and first performed at Bromfield Village Hall, Shropshire, on Wednesday 12 October 2016, before touring the UK.

The play's four scenes are set in the fictional village of Woodside, in the village hall, in four different time periods spanning the 1950s to 2016. In the opening scene, set on the day of the Coronation in 1953, Elsie is twenty-seven years old, and five months pregnant. She has turned up early to help get the hall ready for the Coronation celebrations, and is joined by her friend Dorothy, who brings her baby Marion with her in a pram. In the remaining scenes we revisit Elsie at three other key points in her life as loved ones die, and governments come and go. As Elsie gets older the question arises of how long she can stay in the village she has lived in for much of her life. As the younger generation is priced out, there are fewer local jobs, and even the bus service is cut, who will look after her?

The premiere production was directed by Elizabeth Freestone and designed by Ellan Parry. It was performed by Nathalie Barclay and Beatrice Curnew.

audio I Love Lucy

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The onscreen pairing of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz is at the heart of one of the most popular TV shows in history. Who would have thought that to get on the air, they had to battle both a network and a sponsor who thought the show couldn't possibly succeed? Playwright Gregg Oppenheimer – son of I Love Lucy’s creator Jess Oppenheimer – spins the hilarious true story behind America’s beloved TV comedy. Directed by Michael Hackett. Includes an interview with playwright Gregg Oppenheimer. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast production, starring (in alphabetical order): Ron Bottitta as William S. Paley, William Frawley, and others; Seamus Dever as Jess Oppenheimer; Sarah Drew as Lucille Ball; Abigail Marks as Vivian Vance, Betty Garrett, and others; Matthew Floyd Miller as Don Sharpe, Bob LeMond and others; Rob Nagle as Hubbell Robinson and others; Oscar Nunez as Desi Arnaz; And Nick Toren as Harry Ackerman Music performed by Doug Walter. The "I Love Lucy" theme song used with permission of MPL Music Publishing and Songwriters Guild of America. Original music by Doug Walter. Sound Effects Artist, Aaron Lyons. Production Manager, Rick V. Moreno. Script Supervisor, Nikki Hyde. Senior Radio Producer, Ronn Lipkin. Associate Artistic Director, Anna Lyse Erikson. Editor, Mitchell Lindskoog. Recording Engineer, Sound Designer, and Mixer, Mark Holden for The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood Recorded before an audience at UCLA's James Bridges Theater.

The Lady from the Sea  (trans. Cook)

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Elinor Cook's version of The Lady from the Sea relocates the action of Henrik Ibsen's 1888 play from 19th-century Norway to a Caribbean island in the 1950s. The play was first performed at the Donmar Warehouse, London, on 18 October 2017 (previews from 12 October).

The play is mostly set in and around an old colonial house belonging to Doctor Wangel, sometime in the mid-1950s. Wangel's second wife, Ellida, the lighthouse-keeper’s daughter, feels trapped in her marriage and longs for the sea. When a mysterious seagoing Stranger, a man to whom Ellida was once betrothed, makes an appearance after years of absence, she is forced to decide between freedom and the new life she has made for herself.

The Donmar Warehouse production was directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah and designed by Tom Scutt. It was performed by Jim Findley, Helena Wilson, Jonny Holden, Ellie Bamber, Finbar Lynch (as Doctor Wangel), Tom Mckay, Nikki Amuka-Bird (as Ellida) and Jake Fairbrother.

audio The Living Room

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

London in the 1950s. A mysterious house, home to a family that has seen better days, will not yield its secrets. And a love affair turns to tragedy... Greene, one of the foremost writers of the 20th century, based the play on his own passionate but doomed affairs, and his conflicted view of Catholicism.

Includes an interview with one of the world’s foremost biographers of Graham Greene, Dr. Norman Sherry.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring W. Morgan Sheppard, Julian Sands, Kirsten Potter, Samantha Robson, Jane Carr and Judy Geeson.

Featuring: W. Morgan Sheppard, Julian Sands, Kirsten Potter, Samantha Robson, Jane Carr, Judy Geeson,

Look After Lulu!

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Lulu is an attractive young mademoiselle whose lover, Philippe de Croze, is to join the army for active service. Fearing to leave his mistress, and her flighty nature, without chaperone for so long, de Croze asks his friend Marcel to look after his lover. But the close attention Marcel swears to pay doesn't go exactly to plan . . .

Look After Lulu! is an adaptation of Occupe-toi d'Amelie by the French farce-master Georges Feydeau. It was first performed on Broadway, then at the Royal Court Theatre, in London, before a West-End transfer to the New Theatre (now the Noël Coward Theatre) in 1959.

audio Look Back in Anger

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Jimmy Porter barely ekes out a living running a candy stall by day and playing jazz trumpet by night. Although he usually takes his frustrations out on his emotionless wife, Jimmy's scathing tongue and self-loathing seems destined to destroy everything.

Set in the UK at the dawn of the 60’s social unrest, this savage morality tale spawned the phrase “angry young man.”

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

Steven Brand as Cliff

Moira Quirk as Alison

Simon Templeman as Jimmy

James Warwick as Colonel Redhorn

Joanne Whalley as Helena

Directed by Rosalind Ayres. Recorded by L.A. Theatre Works before a live audience at the James Bridges Theater, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in March, 2012.

This recording also includes an interview with Dan Rebellato, author of "1956 and All That: The Making of Modern British Drama".

Featuring: Steven Brand, Moira Quirk, Simon Templeman, James Warwick, Joanne Whalley

Love in Idleness

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Terence Rattigan's Love in Idleness is the third in an unofficial trilogy of war plays, following Flare Path (1942) and While the Sun Shines (1943). It is a play that explores the conflict between the values of pre-war Britain, and those that Rattigan saw would dominate the post-war world. The play was first produced (after a pre-London tour) at the Lyric Theatre, London, on 20 December 1944.

The plot, which consciously draws on that of Hamlet, has seventeen-year-old Michael Brown returning to wartime London from evacuation to Canada, brimming with socialist convictions – only to find that his widowed mother, Olivia, has become the mistress of wealthy industrialist Sir John Fletcher, a leading member of the war cabinet and a staunch Tory. Sparks fly between the idealistic younger man and the pragmatic politician while Olivia is torn between them.

Rattigan's first version of the play had the title Less Than Kind (another Hamlet reference), and had been written for stage and musical comedy star Gertrude Lawrence. But when Lawrence turned down the play without even reading the script, Rattigan reconceived it as a vehicle for Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt. The Lunts, as they were known, were perhaps the most beloved actors of the era, stars of Broadway since the 1920s and resident in London during the second half of the war. The play then evolved considerably, particularly at the behest of Alfred Lunt, who imposed on Rattigan to make his character (Sir John Fletcher) more sympathetic – changes that Rattigan seemed happy to make, yet which significantly altered the balance of the play's politics. A full account of the differences between Love in Idleness and Less Than Kind is given by Dan Rebellato in his introduction to the Nick Hern Books edition (2011), which contains the texts of both plays.

The Lyric Theatre premiere of Love in Idleness was directed by Alfred Lunt, with Lynn Fontanne as Olivia Brown, Margaret Murray as Polton, Peggy Dear as Miss Dell, Alfred Lunt as Sir John Fletcher, Brian Nissen as Michael Brown, Kathleen Kent as Diana Fletcher, Mona Harrison as Celia Wentworth, Frank Forder as Sir Thomas Markham and Antoinette Keith as Lady Markham.

The reviews were hugely enthusiastic, yet more so for the Lunts' performances than for Rattigan's script. The critic for the Recorder was typical: ‘But what about the author? It is so hard to say. The lines sounded as if they were the wittiest since the days of Oscar Wilde. What is more, they may have been. But what can a critic say when there are two actors who are so supreme in their art that they can make the mention of a boiled egg sound like the climax of human happiness or the depths of disillusionment?’

A new production of the play under the title O Mistress Mine, with the Lunts reprising their original roles, opened on Broadway at the Empire Theatre on 23 January 1946. It ran for 452 performances, by far Rattigan’s longest US run.