Plays

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.

Alphabetical Order

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A provincial newspaper office in the 1970s – and it’s another day of chaos in the cuttings library. Files all over the floor, phones left ringing. And where is Lucy, the librarian . . . ? Her life (when she finally arrives), and the lives of the journalists who take refuge in her muddled retreat, turn out to be as confused as the library itself. Into this comfortable little world steps Lesley, Lucy’s new assistant. She’s young, bright, and she wants system and order. She wants things to change.

Writing about the play, The Times said: ‘The best of Frayn’s plays. He has found a way of writing broad comedy about ordinary and sympathetic people without resorting to artificial conflict or character distortion’.

Alphabetical Order was first produced at Hampstead Theatre on 11 March 1975 before transferring to the West End and winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy. It was revived at Hampstead Theatre on 16 April 2009.

American Buffalo

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Donny runs a junkshop with the help of his young, enthusiastic new employee, Bobby. When a customer comes in on the hunt for an antique coin, Donny sees a business opportunity. Between them, Donny and Bobby plot to rob their wealthy neighbour of his valuable coin collection. Donny’s friend, Walter, however, suspects that all is not as it seems. American Buffalo asks its audience: how do you know who you can trust?

First performed at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago, in 1975, American Buffalo transferred to Broadway in 1977, before playing the Cottesloe auditorium at the National Theatre, London, in 1978. It was revived at the Duke of York Theatre, London, in 1984, with Al Pacino as Teach.

audio American Buffalo

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

David Mamet’s gift for storytelling and forging poetry from both the plain-spoken and profane turns an ill-conceived scheme to steal a rare coin into a triumph of dramatic art. In a junk shop, three men of different generations plan their heist. But their fates, like the nickel’s worn image of the beleaguered buffalo, may have been sealed long ago. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast production starring Rich Hutchman as Donny DuBrow, Josh Stamberg as Walter Cole (Teacher), and Maurice Williams as Bobby. Directed by Brian Kite and recorded before an audience by L.A. Theatre Works. Featuring: Rich Hutchman, Josh Stamberg, Maurice Williams

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.

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.

At the Sound of Marching Feet  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

This verse drama revisits the brutal genocide and rampant rapes carried out by the Pakistani forces during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation. The play begins in the courtyard of the Headman of a district, with villagers forming the Chorus, some of whom do not speak, but rather bring out the essence of the moment through choreography. The villagers report that the “partisans” of “Bangladesh” are coming from the East, and the village women and children present here are seeking the protection of the Headman.  

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.

Bartholmew Fair

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Jonson’s exuberant comedy uses the carnival energy of Bartholmew Fair, an actual fair held in a disreputable suburb of London, to dramatize, satirize and celebrate the appetites and comic frailties of the human body.

The depiction of the Fair, teeming with sleazy but energetic life, is one of the great creations of English drama. There are crowds listening to a ballad-singer while a cutpurse plies his trade; sellers of toys and gingerbread raking in customers; drunken quarrels, arrests, and beatings. The climax is a puppet show in which a classic love story is reduced to raucous obscenity. At the centre is the gigantic pig-seller Ursla, whose tent, full of smoke, flame and frying carcasses, also doubles as a privy and a brothel.

There are also a number of respectable (and not so respectable) Londoners drawn to the Fair. Those who come to judge it end up in trouble. Those who come to enjoy it, and get something out of it, do not always get what they expect. Jonson’s gift for elaborate plotting draws all of his vivid characters together in a complex, beautifully structured mercantile cacophony.

Bartholmew Fair is said to have been first performed in 1613 at the Hope playhouse.

Betrayal

Grove Atlantic
Type: Text

'There is hardly a line into which desire, pain, alarm, sorrow, rage or some kind of blend of feelings has not been compressed, like volatile gas in a cylinder less stable than it looks... Pinter's narrative method takes "what's next?" out of the spectator's and replaces it with the rather deeper "how?" and "why?" Why did love pass? How did these people cope with the lies, the evasions, the sudden dangers, panic and the contradictory feelings behind their own deftly engineered masks? The play's subject is not sex, not even adultery, but the politics of betrayal and the damage it inflicts on all involved.' The Times

First staged at the National Theatre in 1978, Betrayal was revived at the Almeida Theatre, London, in 1991. Twenty years after its first showing, it returned to the National in 1998.

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.

Bingo

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Bingo, subtitled Scenes of Money and Death, uses the last days of a brooding and unheroic William Shakespeare to accuse art and capitalism of vile inhumanity.

Historical evidence suggests that not long before his death Shakespeare agreed to the enclosure of common land near Stratford, which was beneficial to landowners such as Shakespeare, but disastrous for small tenants and the parish’s poor. For Bond this incident is laced with damning echoes of King Lear’s injustices, and motivates his portrayal of the writer as a bourgeois and apolitical capitalist, more occupied with his profits and rents than with the distress of those who depended on the land.

The Shakespeare of Bingo is no national treasure; fretful, impassive and guilty, he is moved to splintered eloquence by the plight of a baited bear and a hanged vagrant woman, but is too slow to see the inhumanity and cruelty of his own position.

Bingo is a thorny cry against exploitation and passivity, and an original and coldly compelling portrait of the revered writer. It was first performed in 1973 at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter.

Blowjob

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A brutal portrait of Northern English life in the early 1970s, Blowjob is an insightful and raw piece about the nature of alienation and violence. The play plunges into the despair of industrial workers, skinheads and a mentally ill girl named Moira as they struggle to live in their isolated community.

Described by director David Hare as a ‘classic fringe play’, Blowjob juxtaposes Wilson’s unique sense of humour with political outrage and astute social commentary. The Times praised it for having ‘an authentic sense of horror; an intermingling of physical outrage and savage farce.’

Blowjob was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1971, in a production directed by David Hare.

Born in the Gardens

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Not much has changed in the days since Maud’s husband, Victor, died, except for the addition of the casket in the music room. She and her son Maurice are still pottering around the house, watching television and enjoying their eccentric hobbies.

Everything becomes much less comfortable, however, when her other children arrive for the funeral. Quirky, dark, and hilarious, Born in the Gardens combines a commentary on Thatcherite politics with an examination of a family in transition.

Born in the Gardens was written by Peter Nichols for the bicentennial anniversary of the Theatre Royal, now the Bristol Old Vic, in 1979, and then transferred to the Gielgud Theatre in the West End. After a television adaptation in 1986, it was revived by the Peter Hall Company in 2008.

Breezeblock Park

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Set on a Liverpool Housing estate in the run up to Christmas, Breezeblock Park is a comedy about the ups and downs of family life. Betty is preparing the decorations for her guest, and making her house neat and tidy for her guests. But what she hopes will be a respectable Christmas gathering of her daughter Sandra, brother Tim and sister Reeny, becomes a maelstrom of drunken bickering and petty recriminations when Sandra reveals the shocking news that she is pregnant.

One of Russell's first plays, Breezeblock Park was first presented in 1975 at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool before transferring to London that same year.

The Bundle: or New Narrow Road to the Deep North

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Bundle, or New Narrow Road to the Deep North is a compelling and forceful story exploring the origins and mechanisms of moral concepts through cruel ethical dilemmas.

Like Bond’s Narrow Road to Deep North, the play begins with the discovery of an abandoned child on a riverbank. The poet Basho who is searching for enlightenment protests that he cannot take it with him, so reluctantly the ferryman adopts the child though he can barely afford to feed another person. The play first describes the boy’s upbringing within the social values of his community, before turning to revolution to dissect and rework accepted attitudes and ideologies. The Bundle weaves together lives beset with social injustices and torn by agonizing choices, with the moral force of parable and the scope and depth of epic.

The Bundle was first performed in 1978 at the Warehouse Theatre, London.

audio Buried Child

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

It's a curious homecoming for Vince, the son nobody seems to remember. Violence is never far from the surface as his unexpected return uncovers a deep, dark secret that triggers catastrophe in Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize winning Buried Child.

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

Hale Appleman as Vince

Tom Bower as Dodge

John Getz as Father Dewis

Amy Madigan as Halie

Robert Parsons as Tilden

Jeff Perry as Bradley

Madeline Zima as Shelly

Directed by Peter Levin. Recorded before a live audience at the James Bridges Theater at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in December, 2011.

Featuring: Hale Appleman, Tom Bower, John Getz, Amy Madigan, Robert Parsons, Jeff Perry, Madeline Zima

audio California Suite

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A four part comedy confection as only Neil Simon can write it! Four couples arrive, in turn, from London, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York and separately inhabit a Beverly Hills hotel suite, bringing along their problems, anxieties, and comical marital dilemmas. Beverly Hills will never be the same.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Dennis Boutsikaris, Bruce Davison, Marsha Mason and Amy Pietz. “Visitor From New York” Marsha Mason as Hannah Warren Bruce Davison as William Warren “Visitor From Philadelphia” Dennis Boutsikaris as Marvin Michaels Amy Pietz as Millie Michaels “Visitors From London” Marsha Mason as Sidney Nichols Bruce Davison as Diana Nichols “Visitors From Chicago” Dennis Boutsikaris as Mort Hollender Amy Pietz as Beth Hollender Bruce Davison as Stu Franklyn Marsha Mason as Gert Franklyn Directed by Gwenn Victor. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Dennis Boutsikaris, Bruce Davison, Marsha Mason, Amy Pietz

Cause Célèbre

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Terence Rattigan's Cause Célèbre is a drama based on the real-life story of Alma Rattenbury, who in 1935 went on trial with her eighteen-year-old lover for the murder of her husband. Rattigan originally wrote the play for radio, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 27 October 1975. He later adapted it for the stage, and this version was first performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, on 4 July 1977. It proved to be his final play, and was still playing in the West End at the time of his death on 30 November 1977.

The action of the play takes place in Bournemouth and London in 1934 and 1935. It begins with Alma Rattenbury being charged in court with the murder of her husband, the architect Francis Rattenbury. Francis was in his fifties when he married Alma, a young gifted pianist in her twenties. Their relationship quickly cooled, leaving the door open for Alma to embark on a passionate affair with George, one of the Rattenbury’s employees. When Francis is found dead, the finger is immediately pointed at Alma and the play follows her arrest and the ensuing trial. Rattigan adds an extra dimension by pitting Alma against a female juror, Edith Davenport, whose own life offers a counterpoint to Alma's.

The premiere of the stage version at Her Majesty’s Theatre was directed by Robin Midgley and designed by Adrian Vaux, with Glynis Johns as Alma Rattenbury and Helen Lindsay as Edith Davenport. It received a clutch of positive reviews. Many critics commented on Rattigan’s failing health and exhibited a generosity of spirit towards his writing legacy, his reputation having suffered since the late 1950s.

The play received a major revival as part of the Rattigan Centenary celebrations at The Old Vic, London, from 17 March 2011 in a production directed by Thea Sharrock with Anne-Marie Duff as Alma and Niamh Cusack as Edith.

The play's relationship with the real-life case that inspired it is explored in detail by Dan Rebellato in his introduction to the Nick Hern Books edition of the play (2011). Rebellato also examines the textual differences between the radio and stage versions of the play. His conclusion is that Cause Célèbre is 'a defiant defence of sexual desire, emotional honesty, and a ferocious attack on the moral pieties of middle-class, middle-brow Middle England'.

The Changing Room

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

On a cold morning in Northern England, a large group of men gather in the changing rooms of their local rugby club, preparing for the match. Through David Storey’s three-act play we see the players, and the men who own, run and work for the club, before the match, at half-time and after the game has finished. What emerges from this tripartite structure is a touching picture of camaraderie, community and commitment to their team.

Describing being inspired by the rituals of the footballer, Storey writes ‘he came into a room, changed from a private individual (conspicuously) into a public performer (he wore a uniform), went out, performed, returned, reverted to his previous persona – and departed: simultaneously the room itself underwent a not dissimilar transformation: empty to begin with, gradually filling, emptying again, the room, in short, both object and subject, active and passive: it changed those within it and, in turn, was changed itself.’

Described by The Times as ‘An excellent example of Storey’s ability to evoke lives from snippets and a society from those lives’, The Changing Room was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 9 November 1971.

audio Chapter Two

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Comedy and pathos mingle brilliantly in Neil Simon’s portrait of a widowed New York novelist who fears he’ll never love again and has no interest in dating. Neither does smart, attractive Jennie Malone, who has just returned from getting a Mexican divorce. A grudging five-minute meeting between them blossoms into a passionate, witty romance–until they decide to marry. A BBC co-production.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring David Dukes, Sharon Gless, Gates McFadden and Grant Shaud.

Featuring: David Dukes, Sharon Gless, Gates McFadden, Grant Shaud

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

An exuberant and sweeping ‘Ceilidh Play with Scenes, Songs and Music of Highland History’ which tells the continuing story of the exploitation of the Scottish Highlands.

McGrath’s winding, furious, innovative play begins with the story of the Clearances: in the nineteenth century, aristocratic landowners discovered the profitability of sheep farming, and forced a mass emigration of rural Highlanders, burning their houses in order to make way for the Cheviot sheep. The play follows the thread of capitalist and repressive exploitation through the estates of the stag-hunting landed gentry, to the most recent rush for profit in the name of North Sea Oil. It is a passionate history told through ballads, Gaelic songs, poetry, comic sketches and tragic stories of resistance.

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil was first performed in 1973 at the ‘What Kind of Scotland’ conference in Edinburgh, then toured throughout Scotland before being televised.

Chez Nous

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In the wake of the publication of his controversial book on adolescent sexuality, Dick and his wife, Liz, have retreated with their family to the French countryside. Joined by their friends Phil and Diana for a child-free weekend, they enjoy the sunshine and the cheap wine until certain unsavoury revelations come to light. At the worst moment possible, two reporters appear to interview Dick, causing great worry among the couples that all their secrets will be aired in the press.

Playwright Peter Nichols drew inspiration for Chez Nous from time spent at his own family’s home in France. This darkly comedic, and sometimes deeply shocking play was first produced in London in 1976. It went on to be performed at the Manhattan Theatre Club in a production starring Sam Waterston.

Cloud Nine

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Churchill’s wickedly comic and compassionate study of sexual politics glimpses the relationships of a family and their lovers, with an interval of twenty-five years of their lives, and around a hundred years of history.

Highlighting the parallels of sexual and colonial oppression, the first act is set in a British colony in Africa in Victorian times. Clive is the traditional colonial patriarch, proud of his perfectly domesticated wife and black servant (‘played by a man’ and ‘played by a white’ respectively), and striving conscientiously to ensure his son and daughter play with gender appropriate toys. But furtive adultery and secret homosexuality threaten to subvert the moral order of the household.

The second act finds some of the same characters living in 1979, twenty-five years older and played by different actors, finding new liberations in bisexuality and polyamory, but finding new anxieties about gender and fulfilment. The intricacies of these relationships and the play’s doubling create a complex and moving account of the multiplicity of individual sexualities.

Cloud Nine was first performed in 1979 at the Dartington College of Arts, before touring and transferring to London.

audio Crimes of the Heart

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

This Pulitzer Prize-winner is a deeply touching and funny play about three eccentric sisters from a small Southern town rocked by scandal when Babe, the youngest, shoots her husband. Humor and pathos abound as the sisters unite with an intense young lawyer to save Babe from a murder charge, and overcome their family’s painful past. A BBC co-production.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Ray Baker, Donna Bullock, Arye Gross, Glenne Headly, Sondra Locke and Belita Moreno.

Featuring: Ray Baker, Donna Bullock, Arye Gross, Glenne Headly, Sondra Locke, Belita Moreno

Cromwell

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Set in England during the 1600s, Cromwell depicts a world of conflict and survival as the warring of rival ideological factions decimates the opportunities for ordinary people to live ordinary lives.

The play centres on a man named Procter who finds himself drafted into war, and even accepts the principles for which he is fighting, until he falls in love with a woman, Joan, whose life has been decimated by the conflict around her. Procter lays down his weapon and becomes a pacifist, preferring a quiet life of domesticity. However, he and Joan are powerless to prevent the war from coming to their doorstep once more – and again find their lives torn to pieces at the point of a sword.

In his introduction, David Storey writes that ‘Cromwell was written when the war in Vietnam, and the troubles in Northern Ireland, were at their height . . . To some extent an enigma, the play’s form emerged at a time when I was much enthralled by naturalistic – or poeticised naturalistic writing, a sudden transposition to something approaching free verse reflecting, to a degree, the dilemma explicit in the play itself: how to reconcile humanity’s insatiable appetite for destruction with a longing for transcendence and peace.’

Cromwell was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 15 August 1973, in a production directed by Anthony Page.

Cuttin' A Rug

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Spanning the 1950s to the 70s, the Slab Boys trilogy – The Slab Boys, Cuttin' a Rug and Still Life – capture the rebellious mood of a post-war generation growing up to a backdrop of James Dean, Elvis, sharp-suited glamour, hope and despair.

John Byrne takes the slab room he worked in and makes it pure theatre: the scams, the dreams, the aloof but gorgeous girl, the despair of life back home, the obligatory tormenting of the office 'weed', and the mandatory boy chat and pranks all help the day to pass. Phil and Spanky explode onto the stage in a classic vaudeville double-act.

Now considered one of Scotland's defining literary works of the twentieth century, the Slab Boys trilogy premiered at the Traverse back in the late 1970s and early 80s taking Scotland, then Britain, and then Broadway by storm. Byrne returned to these characters thirty years later in Nova Scotia.

Dark Pony

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Dark Pony is a short, beautiful play in which a father shares a bedtime story with his daughter as they drive home late at night. The story he tells centres around a Native American named Rain Boy, and his horse, Dark Pony. The Star Tribune described the play as 'A subtle, lyrical, dreamlike vignette . . . It's a lovely little tale about childhood memories and emotions.'

Dark Pony was first performed on 14 October 1977, in a Yale Repertory production, New Haven, Connecticut, directed by Walt Jones.

audio David Mamet Shorts: Reunion

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Three one-act plays from David Mamet, one of the master stage writers of our time:

The Shawl - A clairvoyant is in the process of swindling an unsuspecting woman on the basis of clever guess work and speculation. But it appears the clairvoyant has special powers that even he may not be aware of.

Reunion - After years of separation, Reunion follows the painful and deliberate efforts of a divorced and recovering alcoholic father, Bernie, and his daughter Carol to work their way back to early bonds of affection.

Bobby Gould in Hell - In this comic mediation on the nature of good and evil, Bobby Gould (from Mamet’s celebrated Speed the Plow) is interrogated by a pair of devils to decide his faith.

L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performances featuring Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

Featuring: Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

Destiny

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

First produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Other Place in Stratford in September 1976, Destiny transferred to the Aldwych Theatre, London in May 1977 where it received exceptionally high praise from a wide range of critics. The production established David Edgar as a major playwright, one of the most important of the young generation of dramatists to emerge out of the 'portable' theatre movement of the late sixties.

1947. The twilight of Empire in India. Sergeant Turner and his Colonel share a bottle of whisky in reluctant celebration of Independence. 'Do you think Mr Churchill will do anything about it, sir? When the conservatives get back in?'

1976. A bye-election in the West Midlands against the background of an industrial dispute involving Asian labour. A three-cornered fight between Labour, Conservative (candidate: the Colonel's nephew) and the up and coming National Forward party (candidate: Sergeant, now Mr. Turner) – a contest in which the issue of race cuts like a razor through the conventional cosy assumption of British politics, with alarming and prophetic results.

It is impossible to read David Edgar's play without feeling provoked into re-examining one's own political sentiments. Impossible also not to admire the skill with which he has woven so many strands into an authentic, gripping and theatrically effective play of impressive scope and power.

Dog Days

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

'We’ve got a sociologist called Nuzek coming in this afternoon with his latest book. On Protestantism and Pornography.'

Faced with such a prospect, Peter, the protagonist of this play, finds the idea of sitting at his desk in a publishing house considerably less attractive than attempting to seduce a free-lance cover designer while his wife is out teaching English to foreigners and shopping at Sainsbury's. Dog Days is about the sad and hilarious consequences of Peter'’s disenchantment with his job, his wife, his public school master brother and himself.

The play is a companion piece to Otherwise Engaged and has the same remarkable blend of wit and pathos, humour and despair.

Dog Days was first performed on 26 October 1976 at the Oxford Playhouse.

Duck Song

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Duck Song is a comic and half-surreal deconstruction, about collective and profound loss of meaning.

In a comfortable middle-class house in London, sixty-year-old Herbert is throwing walnuts at the cuckoo clock. His seventy-one-year-old brother Maurice is asleep, which is his usual pastime. Herbert was a safe-breaker, Maurice a successful artist. Herbert’s daughter Jane, a psychiatrist, and her unemployed boyfriend Eddie are living with them. Jane’s estranged mother and a native American, Swift Arrow (or Lee), are on their way. And one of Herbert’s old criminal associates is breaking in, looking for his cut.

The mood of crisis and dissolution is suggestive of a society in decline. Then the play flashes into the absurd in the second act, becoming fragmented and bizarre, an unsolvable, uncontrollable puzzle.

Duck Song was first presented in 1974 by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Duck Variations

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Emil and George, two gentlemen in their sixties, are sitting on a park bench by a lake in a big city. Wherever their conversation goes, it always comes back to ducks: their mating habits, their mortal enemies, their inevitable demise.

A wry, pseudo-existentialist discussion of what we do and why we do it, in fourteen ‘variations’, Mamet’s short duologue was first presented in the U.S.A. by the St. Nicholas Theatre Company at Goddard College, Vermont, in 1972, and had its British premiere at the Regent Theatre, London, in 1977.

Dutch Uncle

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The newly acquired wardrobe filling most of the living room of the Godboys' decaying house in Shepherd's Bush really does seem unnecessarily large for most purposes. Eric and Doris upstairs could manage without one, surely. Whatever scheme Mr Godboy has in mind, however, he does seem to be going about it the hard way; and it certainly sorts oddly with his apparent worship of the police force and all it stands for. It's not entirely clear, either, why he married May Godboy in the first place. There's little satisfaction for her in the relationship…

Dutch Uncle was first performed at the Aldwych Theatre, London, on 17 March 1969. 

Educating Rita (Modern Classic)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Educating Rita is a play for two actors about a working-class woman’s hunger for education, knowledge and culture, and her friendship with a weary, alcoholic, failed poet-cum-lecturer.

Susan is a hairdresser who feels that there must be more to life than having children, so she renames herself 'Rita' after her favourite fictional character and applies for an Open University course in English Literature. Set entirely in the scholarly clutter of Dr Frank Bryant’s office, the play follows Rita’s efforts to escape her old life, and her blossoming into a literary connoisseur under Frank’s sporadic direction. Terribly funny and terribly sad, the play is both a comic masterwork and a poignant examination of education, class and disillusionment.

Educating Rita premiered at the Warehouse Theatre, London, in 1980. It was subsequently made into a highly successful film with Michael Caine and Julie Walters. This revised version was first performed in 2002 at the Liverpool Playhouse.

Educating Rita (Student Edition)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

This Student Edition of Educating Rita provides a wealth of scholarly information, annotation and background to aid the study of Russell's much-loved play.

Educating Rita is a play for two actors about a working-class woman’s hunger for education, knowledge and culture, and her friendship with a weary, alcoholic, failed poet-cum-lecturer. This Methuen Drama Student Edition includes extensive notes for students and teachers of the play.

Susan is a hairdresser who feels that there must be more to life than having children, so she renames herself 'Rita' after her favourite fictional character and applies for an Open University course in English Literature. Set entirely in the scholarly clutter of Dr Frank Bryant’s office, the play follows Rita’s efforts to escape her old life, and her blossoming into a literary connoisseur under Frank’s sporadic direction. Terribly funny and terribly sad, the play is both a comic masterwork and a poignant examination of education, class and disillusionment.

Educating Rita premiered at the Warehouse Theatre, London, in 1980. It was subsequently made into a highly successful film with Michael Caine and Julie Walters. This revised version was first performed in 2002 at the Liverpool Playhouse.

Enjoy  

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Enjoy uncannily foresaw the attitudes to English working-class life now enshrined in theme parks.

‘The classic tug in Bennett between childhood Yorkshire and intellectual sophistication had never been better, or more daringly expressed.’ Observer

Enjoy premiered at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, in October 1980.

Ernie's Incredible Illucinations

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Ernie’s incredible imagination is alarming his parents. They go to the doctor in search of a cure. Once they’re there, they discover Ernie’s ‘illucinations’ are more powerful than they realised. Everything Ernie imagines – from secret agents to a boxing granny – becomes real.

Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations was first performed at the Unicorn Theatre For Children, London, in September 1971.

© Alan Ayckbourn, 1969

Find Me

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Through a story of a poet and a novelist, Mercer studies the position of the political writer in post-war Europe.

Marek, the celebrated Polish novelist, turns up outside Olivia’s house. Olivia the poet, whose older husband was killed in the Second World War in the company of Marek, is writing an article about her guest, trying to pin down the politics and psychology buried beneath his constant drinking and womanizing. Their relationship is strained and sad, and swiftly intercut with footage of WWII air strikes, Olivia with her husband, and her husband’s meeting with Marek. Mercer creates through the interaction of Olivia and Marek a bleak portrait of profound historical consciousness.

Find Me was first presented by BBC Television in December 1974.

The Fool

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

An account of the life of the poet John Clare, The Fool is set against rural dissent and industrialisation, an interrogation of the relationships of capitalism, class and art that burns with pain and anger.

The Fool sees Clare taking part in the Littleport riots of 1816, when England was steeped in unemployment, high prices and low pay, and the labourers of Littleport in Cambridgeshire attacked the shops and wealthier residents of the town. Bond’s play shows the parson being looted, stripped and clawed by the workers who accuse him of starving their children. Living with hardship and unrest, Clare’s life is torn into pieces as the woman he loves disappears, the countryside is eaten up by the advance of industrialisation, his fashionable and condescending patrons refuse to print what they call radicalism, and illness and literary fervour mean he cannot provide for his family.

The Fool was first performed in 1975 at the Royal Court Theatre, London.

Forget-me-not Lane

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Forget-me-not Lane is a bittersweet play about fathers, families and nostalgia – about (in Nichol’s words) a youth which was bitter to live through but sweet to remember.

Middle-aged Frank is packing his suitcase, and starts to tell the audience about his life. He summons up memories of his childhood and adolescence during the Second World War, watching the experiences of his younger self with a mixture of amiable amusement, mortification and nostalgia. Frank relives the grammatical pedantry of his father Charles, the bickering between his parents, his adventures in transvestism with his best friend Ivor, a juvenile attraction to the vivacious star of the local stage, and his awkward flirtations with Ursula, later to be his wife. Frank is gloomily disappointed by the contrast between his teenage sweetheart and the tired mother Ursula has become, his reminiscences gradually exposing his dissatisfaction with familial life.

Forget-me-not Lane was first performed in 1971 at the Greenwich Theatre, London.

The Freeway

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Nichols’s commentary on the modern attachment to the automobile, the traffic on the freeway has come to a complete standstill.

May, Les, Wally and Evelyn – elderly travellers doing the sights and on their way to Hadrian’s Wall – step out of their mobile home to stretch their legs. Next door, James and his dowager mother Nancy were on their way to the opera, but now they’re getting out of their estate car and picnicking on the verge. Grant returns to his wife, children and sports car from his reconnaissance of the traffic jam: nothing’s moving.

But what begins as an inconvenience – easily taken in the stride of the resourceful British motorist – becomes rather more desperate as the days wear on and there’s no way of going anywhere. Three very different sets of people try to keep their spirits up as the picnics run out, and wonder if this is the fair price of modern mobility.

The Freeway was first presented at the Old Vic in 1974.

German Skerries

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Robert Holman's play German Skerries is a portrait of life in industrial Teesside in the North of England in the 1970s. It won the 1977 George Devine Award, and was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, on 25 January 1977.

The play's action is set during the summer of 1977, and takes place, according to a note in the script, 'on an area of rough land known as South Gare at the entrance of the River Tees'. It is a popular birdwatching spot, and this is what brings together the 23-year-old Jack Williams, who works for British chemical manufacturing company ICI, and the 59-year-old Martin Jones, who is a primary school teacher. Jack, spurred on by his wife Carol, has applied for a technical course that will lead to promotion as a plant manager. In the course of a fortnight, the play plots the changing lives of its characters as they try to work out how to live, and of a community in which a thriving steel industry poses a threat to the natural environment.

The Bush Theatre premiere was directed by Chris Parr and designed by Miki van Zwanenberg, with Paul Copley as Jack, John Normington as Martin, Mark Penfold as Michael and Caroline Hutchison as Carol.

A new production was staged at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, on 3 March 2016, in an Orange Tree Theatre/Up in Arms co-production in association with Reading Rep. It was directed by Alice Hamilton and designed by James Perkins, with George Evans as Jack, Howard Ward as Martin, Henry Everett as Michael and Katie Moore as Carol. The production subsequently toured the UK.

The Glad Hand

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In The Glad Hand a wealthy, communist-hating tycoon named Ritsaat leads a motley gang of explorers through the Bermuda triangle – and the space-time continuum – in pursuit of the antichrist, whom he hopes to lure out into the open for a battle, under the cover of the nineteenth century Cowboy Strike which ran in the wake of the American Civil War.

’A full-blooded theatrical experience which is also – praise be – good fun to watch. Its energetic imaginative nonsense spills out ideas, situations, crises, comedy and political harangue in a firework display of non-sequitur whizz-bang high spirits’–Sunday Telegraph

The Glad Hand was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre on 11 May 1978, with Anthony Sher in the lead role. It was directed by Max Stafford-Clark.

audio Good Black

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In Pittsburgh in the 1980’s, a young man falls in love with an older woman, and their lives are changed forever.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast production, starring Rolanda Brigham, Yvonne Dabney, Ellis Foster, Donn Carl Harper, Runako Jahi, Audrey Morgan, Kemati Janice Porter, and Valerie Robinson.

Directed by Woodie King Jr.

Featuring: Rolanda Brigham, Yvonne Dabney, Ellis Foster, Donn Carl Harper, Runako Jahi, Audrey Morgan, Kemati Janice Porter, Valerie Robinson

audio The Goodbye Girl

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In this unique audio adaptation of Neil Simon’s screenplay, Paula McFadden’s a down-on-her-luck actress who’s forced to take in a new roommate – the eccentric, noisy, and generally unpleasant Eliot Garfield– who also happens to be an actor. As their careers and finances hit new lows, their reluctant partnership threatens to turn into something neither one wants. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, starring (in alphabetical order): Ellis Greer and Donna and others; Anna Mathias as multiple characters; Matthew Floyd Miller as Eliot Garfield; Amy Pietz as Paula McFadden; Raini Rodriguez as Lucy; André Sogliuzzo as multiple characters; Inger Tudor as Mrs. Crosby and others; Matthew Wolf as Mark Bodine and others; Adam Wylie as multiple characters Directed by Rosalind Ayres. Recorded live in performance at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater in January 2018.

Grand Magic

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Unhappy wife Marta needs to take a drastic step if she wants to escape her jealous husband. To that end, she and her lover recruit the help of a seedy magician, who chooses Marta as his volunteer for the ‘disappearing person’ trick in his act.

When her jealous husband realizes that Marta is not reappearing, he demands that the magician return her.

In Grand Magic, Eduardo de Filippo, explores questions of faith, obsession, and delusion. This translation was first performed in England at the National Theatre, London, in 1995.

Hayavadana  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Based on a a tale found in a collection of Sanskrit stories dating from the eleventh century. The play focuses on Padmini who is attracted to Kapila, her bookish husband Devadatta's friend. In a jealous fit, Devadatta cuts off his own head leaving Kapila to find the body, worried he will be blamed, cutting off his own head. The gods intervene to try and restore the men to life but the heads become switched... 

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.

Huggy Bear

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Huggy Bear is a celebration of the primal energies of hunger for satisfaction and experience, in the form of Hooper, an infantile and philosophical dentist with a boundless enjoyment of mastication.

Hooper lives with his slightly distracted mother in a quiet suburb in Cambridge; she makes him a beautiful breakfast which he enthusiastically stuffs into his mouth and on to most of his clothes. He is nannied at work by his beautiful secretary Janine, while his prim fiancée Barbara tries to improve him, against his rather impassive will.

Huggy Bear is playful and anarchically optimistic, as Hooper glories in physical enjoyment and sensuality with a glee delightfully unsuited to his age and position. Mercer's play was first presented by Yorkshire Television in 1976.

The Idiot

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The Idiot is a dramatisation of Fyodor Dostoievsky’s original novel. In creating this stage play, Simon Gray chose some of the most vivid and contrasting episodes recounting the strange involvement between Prince Myshkin, the good natured ‘Idiot’, the beautiful Nastasya Filippovna and her desperate lover and husband, Rogozhin. The ambiguity of these episodes and the paradoxical atmosphere of Dostoievsky’s novel – hovering between sombre tragedy and grotesque farce – is heightened by the use of a strange, sinister commentator, the character of Ferdyschenko.

The Idiot was first presented by the National Theatre Company at the Old Vic, London, in July 1970.

I Just Stopped By To See The Man  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Stephen Jeffreys’s play I Just Stopped By To See The Man is a drama about the myth surrounding an old blues singer. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 30 November 2000.

The play is set in a bare ‘shotgun’ house in a small town in the Mississippi Delta in the summer of 1975. It is home to Jesse Davidson, 75, last of the old-time Delta blues singers, who is thought to have died fourteen years ago, and to his daughter Della, 34, on the run after her involvement with the Black Panthers. Their peace is shattered by the arrival of Karl, 31, an English rock star who idolises Jesse and whose band has been doing a gig in Memphis, Tennessee. Karl, facing the break-up of his band, sees salvation in persuading the reluctant Jesse to step back into the limelight for one last stand.

The Royal Court production was directed by Richard Wilson and designed by Julian McGowan. It was performed by Ciarán McMenamin (as Karl), Tommy Hollis (as Jesse) and Sophie Okonedo (as Della).

In Event of Moone Disaster  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Andrew Thompson's play In Event of Moone Disaster is a family drama about space exploration and its impact on the lives of three women across a time-span of 80 years. The play won the 2016 Theatre503 Playwriting Award, and was first performed at Theatre503, London, on 9 October 2017.

The play's action takes place between 1969 and 2056, primarily in a small northern English village. In 1969, a young Sylvia Moone watches the moon landing and longs for someone to sweep her off on an adventure. In 2017, she’s a crotchety old woman, her memory failing, and her son and daughter-in-law are trying to conceive. In 2055, her granddaughter, also named Sylvia Moone, is preparing to become the first person to set foot on Mars.

The premiere production was directed by Lisa Spirling and designed by Sarah Beaton. It was performed by Rosie Wyatt (as Sylvia Moone), Thomas Pickles, Will Norris, Alicya Eyo and Dar Dash.

In Praise of Love

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Terence Rattigan's In Praise of Love is a play about a husband and wife who, with the best of intentions, deceive each other over the wife's fatal illness. It was based in part on the relationship between Rattigan's friend, the actor Rex Harrison, and his wife Kay Kendall, who died of leukaemia. The play was first produced as a one-act play under the title After Lydia in a double-bill with the short farce, Before Dawn, at the Duchess Theatre, London, on 27 September 1973. Rattigan reworked and extended the play as In Praise of Love for its New York premiere at the Morosco Theatre on 10 December 1974, starring Rex Harrison himself.

The play is set in a small flat in Islington in north London, the home of Sebastian and Lydia Cruttwell. Sebastian was a once-promising novelist, now a critic with Marxist sympathies. His sardonic indifference is tolerated amicably by Lydia, an Estonian refugee, whom Sebastian married after the war to secure her a British passport, and whom he seems absent-mindedly to have neglected to divorce ever since. But Lydia is dying: she has been diagnosed with advanced polyarteritis and is unlikely to live more than a year. She confides all this to a family friend, Mark Walters, but, wanting to spare him anxiety, not to Sebastian. Sebastian, however, admits to Mark that he knows all about the illness, and has been keeping Lydia in a state of what he believes to be sublime ignorance. The diagnosis has made Sebastian realise how much he loves his wife, though the need to persuade her that everything is normal has forced him painfully to continue a subterfuge of cantankerous off-handedness. Mark, caught between the loyalties of his old friend and the woman he has always loved, points Lydia towards the truth.

The Duchess Theatre premiere was directed by John Dexter with Joan Greenwood as Lydia and Donald Sinden as Sebastian.

The complex relationship between the action of the play and the real-life story of Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall is examined by Rattigan scholar Dan Rebellato in his introduction to the Nick Hern Books edition (2001). Rebellato traces the play's evolution as Rattigan reworked it for the New York premiere in which Harrison took on the part that he'd originally inspired, concluding that In Praise of Love is 'Rattigan’s last attempt at a well-made play and one of his best'.

The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

When Albie Sachs walks into his chambers one morning, he feels a hand on his shoulder and soon finds himself surrounded by men in suits. Arrested and imprisoned without trial for speaking out against apartheid law, the young lawyer is held in solitary confinement in a concrete cell without a bunk or a chair, and only the Bible to read. Albie’s refusal to answer the special officers’ questions ensures his continued detainment, as he struggles to retain his convictions, and his sanity, alone in jail.

Based on the real-life figure of Albie Sachs, a South African lawyer, and drawing heavily on his diaries which detail his experience of apartheid in South Africa in the 1960s, this adaptation by David Edgar explores the endurance of the individual against loneliness, oppression and a justice system that is threatened by a growing movement towards emancipation.

The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs was first presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Warehouse Theatre, London, in June 1978.

John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

John, Paul, George, Ringo . . . and Bert was the first major hit for Willy Russell, one of Britain’s best-loved playwrights. A musical about The Beatles, it won the Evening Standard and London Critics’ awards for Best New Musical of 1974.

Commissioned and directed by Alan Dosser for Liverpool's Everyman Theatre where it opened in May 1974, the critically acclaimed production transferred to the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London in August. At the time, Time Out wrote that it was ‘Funny, incisive, well-acted and makes its points without any arty philosophising’.

Full of Willy Russell’s trademark wit and local Liverpudlian colour, John, Paul, George, Ringo . . . and Bert is a humourous and heart-warming story of Liverpool’s most famous four sons . . . and Bert.

Junkyard  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Jack Thorne's Junkyard is a play, with music by Stephen Warbeck, about the creation of a playground out of junk. It was first performed at Bristol Old Vic Theatre on 2 March 2017 (previews from 24 February), in a co-production between Headlong, Bristol Old Vic, Rose Theatre Kingston and Theatr Clwyd.

The play's action takes place in a playground in Lockleaze, Bristol, in 1979. A group of kids from a Bristol school, seen as misfits and disregarded simply for coming from troubled backgrounds, are invited by a man named Rick to join him in building an adventure playground on a plot the headmaster has earmarked for the new maths block. Initially suspicious of the project, they nonetheless hang about watching Rick at work, feigning lack of interest but making bonds. By the end of the summer, they would die to defend the playground, and one of them almost does.

In an Introduction to the published script, Jack Thorne writes that the play was inspired by his own father and the 'junk playground he built with some kids at Lockleaze School in Bristol... But Junkyard is not about my dad... Rather,

it’s an attempt to walk the high wire he walked – and to tell the truth about the type of kids who built these playgrounds, the places they come from, the lives they lead.'

The premiere production was directed by Jeremy Herrin and designed by Chiara Stephenson. It was performed by Scarlett Brookes, Calum Callaghan (as Rick), Josef Davies, Erin Doherty, Kevin McMonagle, Enyi Okoronkwo, Seyi Omooba, Lisa Palfrey, Jack Riddiford and Ciaran Alexander Stewart

audio Just Between Ourselves

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The first of Ayckbourn’s darkly comic masterpieces involves a relentlessly cheerful handyman in a disastrously fractured marriage. Two couples develop an unlikely friendship in this painfully funny portrait of British suburban life.

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

Gia Carides as Pam

Kenneth Danziger as Dennis

Judy Geeson as Vera

Miriam Margolyes as Marjorie

Alfred Molina as Neil

Directed by Waris Hussein. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Gia Carides, Kenneth Danziger, Judy Geeson, Miriam Margolyes, Alfred Molina

Lakeboat

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Dale Katzman is spending his summer vacation from university aboard a cargo ship on the Great Lakes. Hired on as a cook – to replace the unfortunate Guigliani who suffered a violent attack of some sort while on shore leave – Dale is thrust into a world of swearing, drinking, bordeom and sailing; a world, above all, of men.

Described by the New York times as 'Mamet's Life on the Mississippi [a memoir by Mark Twain] . . . the writing is effortless and intuitive - and some of tales are as tall as Twain's', Lakeboat is a semi-autobiographical play which draws inspiration from Mamet's own time working aboard a cargo ship.

Written first in 1970, it was revised and first performed in 1980 by the Court Street Theater, a project of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Wisconsin.

Laughter!

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Laughter! is a two act play that dramatises the screaming cruelty of Ivan the Terrible – the sixteenth century Russian Tsar – and the anaesthetized bureaucracy which administrated the Nazi concentration camps in the twentieth century.

Act One joins Ivan the Terrible in a torture chamber, raging in devout and deranged anguish as he slowly impales a man on a stake, and kills his own son. Act Two takes place in an administrative building in Berlin, 1942, where office-workers are have received new instructions for the systematic categorisation of deaths. Laughter!’s daring treatment of concentration camps, which involves a music-hall style routine, meant that the play had a troubled reception, but Peter Barnes does more than court controversy, probing the cavity between comedy and tragedy, examining the mechanisms – among them laughter – which dampen atrocity.

Laughter! was first performed in 1978 at the Royal Court Theatre, London.

Lear

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Edward Bond recasts the story of King Lear into a fundamentally political epic, which reveals the violence endemic in all unjust societies. He exposes corrupted innocence as the core of social morality, and this false morality as a source of the aggressive tension which must ultimately destroy that society.

The despotic Lear is building a vast wall to keep his enemies out of his kingdom, but the betrayal of his two daughters sends the country into civil war. Lear is deposed and tried, while the punishment of those who sheltered him begins a revolutionary uprising against the sisters. The new regime proves a cruel and hypocritical one, and orders that work on Lear’s wall be resumed. Though Lear has now been blinded, he begins to see the suffering of the people and becomes a focus for opposition.

Bond takes names and structures from Shakespeare’s play, but twists them into a brutal new shape that also takes influences from Chekov’s Three Sisters. The play premiered in 1971 at the Royal Court Theatre in London to many shocked reviews.

video Les Blancs (NT)

National Theatre
Type: Video

Age recommendation: 15+ (contains mature themes and references to racism)

This production is an archival recording captured in 2016.

An African country teeters on the edge of civil war. A society prepares to drive out its colonial present and claim an independent future. Racial tensions boil over. Tshembe, returned home from England for his father’s funeral, finds himself in the eye of the storm.

A family and a nation fall apart under the pressure to determine their own identity as this brave, illuminating and powerful play confronts the hope and tragedy of revolution.

Les Blancs marked the National Theatre debut of the multi-award-winning director Yaël Farber, whose productions include The Crucible (Old Vic) and the internationally-acclaimed Mies Julie and Nirbhaya.

Written eleven years after A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry’s final drama is an unknown masterpiece of the American stage and a highly theatrical search for the soul of post-colonial Africa.

CAST
The Woman: Sheila Atim
Abioseh Matoseh: Gary Beadle
Peter: Sidney Cole
Charlie Morris: Elliot Cowan
Dr Willy Dekoven: James Fleet
Major George Rice: Clive Francis
Eric: Tunji Kasim
Dr Martha Gotterling: Anna Madeley
Ngago: Roger Jean Nsengiyumva
Madame Neilsen: Siân Phillips
Tshembe Matoseh: Danny Sapani
Boy: Fola Akintola
Boy: Xhanti Mbonzongwana
Boy: Tumo Reetsang
Matriarchs and Singers (Ngqoko Cultural Group): Nofenishala Mvotyo
Ensemble: Anna-Maria Nabirye
Matriarchs and Singers (Ngqoko Cultural Group): Nogcinile Yekani Moaqobiso
Matriarchs and Singers (Ngqoko Cultural Group): Mpahleni (Madosini) Latozi
Singer: Joyce Moholoagae

CREATIVES
Director: Yaël Farber
Designer: Soutra Gilmour
Lighting Designer: Tim Lutkin
Music and Sound: Adam Cork
Movement Director: Imogen Knight
Fight Director: Kev McCurdy
Dramaturg: Drew Lichtenberg

Life Class

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Life Class depicts a crucial day in the life of an art school teacher named Allott, as he aims to lead his class through the processes of discovery that will turn their sketches into artworks, but which instead lead only to troubling scenes and crossed boundaries.

Writing in the introduction to Storey Plays: 3, David Storey says: ‘Allott (a lot: munificence) is an art teacher in a northern provincial art school (I had attended one such, at Wakefield, in my late teens). Conceived as something not unakin to an existential Prospero, he creates, as if with the audience’s participation, a class, or “event” – in his designation, an “invisible event” since the participants are not consciously aware of their involvement. The materials of this event (or performance: his self-declared “work of art”) are, as for most artists, those of his daily existence: in this instance, a group of (largely) unsympathetic (and conceivably ungifted) youths who, for one reason or another – fortuity – have found their way into what might be described as his allegorised arena (i.e., onto his “canvas”) – a phenomenological act, and perception, which, Allott concludes, is, like all “art”, expressive – an embodiment – of his time.’

Life Class was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 9 April 1974.

A Life in the Theatre

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A Life in the Theatre shows the relationship between two stage actors – Robert, the older, and John, the younger – who are playing side by side in a season of plays. We see them both off stage and on as their relationship evolves from one of professional solidarity to one marked by bitterness and division, with John's promise as a young actor beginning to be realised just as Robert's talent starts to wane.

‘As so often in Mamet, a sense of desolation lies behind the laughter. In the spare, beautifully poised dialogue of the off-stage scenes he captures all the tension and rivalry between the old stager and the young pretender, scrupulously charting the balance of power as it shifts from age to youth . . . Mamet brings us to the heart of transcience and loss.’ Sunday Telegraph

A Life in the Theatre was first produced by the Theater de Lys, New York City, and opened on 20 October 1977, in a production directed by Gerald Gutierrez.

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Churchill uses the events of the millenial movement during the English Civil War, when the revolutionary belief in the second coming of Christ reached fever pitch, to stage a volatile discussion of idealism, pragmatism and justice.

In a series of compact, concentrated scenes, Churchill dramatises the fervent conflicts of a time when hierarchies and conventions had been shaken. The Putney Debates pitted Cromwell against the nonconformist Diggers and Levellers, the Ranters triumphed in the non-existence of sin and preachers warned of the end of days.

Churchill suggests that, as in the original performance, parts are swapped and the same character is played by different actors. Light Shining in Buckinghamshire refracts, unbalances and shifts ideological positions producing profound and timeless debate well as historical insight.

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire opened in 1976 at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.

The Little Black Book

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

One morning, Jean-Jacques leaves his door ajar – and a total stranger slips into his life. Is she deranged, a squatter, or a woman from his past? As a lawyer, he should know how to get rid of her, but as a man, he has no idea. His orderly world is turned upside-down when what started as a comic encounter changes his life forever.

The Little Gray Home in the West

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Little Gray Home in the West was a reworking of a 1972 play called The Ballygombeen Bequest which was described by the Guardian as 'a freewheeling Brechtian parable of sickness, colonialism and capitalism in Ireland'.

Chris Megson, in his book Modern British Playwriting: the 1970s described the case succinctly: '7:84's production of The Ballygombeen Bequest by John Arden and Margaretta D'Arcy . . . attacked British actions in Northern Ireland and accused the British Army of using torture. The production was halted after legal advice in the final week of its run at the Bush Theatre. The controversy related to a programme note about a real absentee English landlord who was in the process of evicting a tenant and whose contact details were listed in the programme. The landlord issued a writ on the writers in a civil action and the military also complained about the play's content. The case was eventually settled out of court but the company's annual grant was removed.'

A play with songs, and a spoonful of cynicism, The Little Gray Home in the West tells the story of a businessman named Baker-Fortescue who has come to inherit a small estate in the south of Ireland, a place where communications with the locals, and the security of fences, is forever on a knife's edge.

audio Living Together

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In the second “battle” of Ayckbourn’s celebrated triology The Norman Conquests, we rejoin the family weekend, this time hearing the events in the living room, where Norman gets drunk on homemade dandelion wine – and all hell breaks loose. Norman unleashes his merry brand of manipulative charm on the hapless guests and even his most formidable opponents go down in defeat on the drawing room rug.

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

Rosalind Ayres as Sarah

Kenneth Danziger as Reg

Martin Jarvis as Norman

Jane Leeves as Annie

Christopher Neame as Tom

Carolyn Seymour as Ruth

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Ken Danziger, Martin Jarvis, Jane Leeves, Christopher Neame, Carolyn Seymour

The Local Authority

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

When the court system is corrupt, where can people turn for justice? In a small town in Napoli – the setting for The Local Authority – justice rests in the hands of the local mafia on, Antonio Barracano.

But when Antonio is shot during the mediation of a dispute, he must struggle in his final hours to prevent a blood-feud from erupting after his death.

Written in 1960, The Local Authority was first performed in England in 1979.

audio Make and Break

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

From the author of Copenhagen and Noises Off. A comedy-drama about a door manufacturing company and a fateful convention in Frankfurt.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Rosalind Ayres, Allan Corduner, David Ellenstein, Julian Holloway, Peter A. Jacobs, Martin Jarvis, Robin Goodrin Nordli, James Warwick and Michael York.

Directed by Robert Robinson. Recorded before a live audience in February, 1993.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Allan Corduner, David Ellenstein, Julian Holloway, Peter A. Jacobs, Martin Jarvis, Robin Goodrin Nordli, James Warwick, Michael York

Mary Barnes

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In 1965, Mary Barnes arrives at Kingsley Hall, the first resident of an alternative treatment centre for mental illness founded by the controversial psychotherapist, R. D. Laing. Having undergone shock therapy and insulin injections for her schizophrenia with little result, it seems unlikely that Mary will ever leave institutional care.

But her life changes when she meets Joseph Berke, her therapist. Encouraged to regress to a childlike state, Mary discovers a way through her madness with the paints and crayons given to her by Berke, creating the fantastic canvasses and drawings which would later bring her fame as an artist.

David Edgar’s play is adapted from Mary Barnes: Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness, written by Mary Barnes and Joseph Berke. Edgar worked closely with both authors during the writing of this uniquely personal piece which challenges traditional assumptions about the reality of living with and treating mental illness.

Mary Barnes received its world premiere in August 1978 at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Studio, before transferring to the Royal Court Theatre, London.

Molly

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

'Molly is an adaptation for the stage of the earliest of my television plays – Death of a Teddy Bear – which was written for BBC's Wednesday Play… The source of Death of a Teddy Bear was the Alna Rattenbury case, an account of which I came across in a paperback called (I think) Ten Famous Trials, left discarded in a railway compartment… I flicked through the pages of the paperback – it was stained and swollen as if a dog had urinated over it – in the cursory manner of one who has something of more consequence on the mind… When I arrived at Cambridge I left the book where I’d found it, but for the rest of that day, and for many subsequent days and (especially) nights, I was haunted by Mrs Rattenbury’s story – or what of it I could perceive behind the dozen pages or so in which her trial had been described. So when Kenith Trodd asked me if I'd like to try my hand at a full length television play the subject was already fully there, and at least partially shaped, even though unwritten. Which is perhaps why I didn't go back to Mrs Rattenbury herself, neither to her trial nor to reconstructions of the crime. I based my play on the effect that the dozen pages had had on me (the specifics being pretty well forgotten), changed the names and hoped that my sense of the drama would find its own form.

Molly was first presented in Britain at the Watford Palace Theatre in November 1977.

The Morning After Optimism

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

James, a temporarily retired pimp, is on the run from a shadowy pursuer. His mother has just died and he is cynical to the point of despair about what should become of him. With him is Rosie, his long-time 'girl', who encourages him to think ahead, offering a less pessimistic view of his prospects.

In the forests through which they flee, James encounters a pretty, innocent girl of 17 named Anastasia. She has been alone a long time, and like many a fairy-tale woman, is awaiting a dashing saviour to arrive.

In his introduction, leading Irish critic Fintan O'Toole writes that 'The Morning After Optimism draws on Shakespeare's Forest of Arden for its setting, on Jungian psychology for its imagery, and on European fairytale for much of its shape, language and action . . . [it] is certainly no ordinary play, with its consciously artificial language, its use of fairytale characters, and its exploration of the relationship between illusion and freedom . . . Optimism proclaims itself by its setting, by its use of characters who dress and talk like they are well acquainted with the Brothers Grimm, for what it is: a play of the dream world.'

The Morning After Optimism was first performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in March, 1971.

Mother Goose’s Golden Christmas

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In his introduction, David Wood describes his horror of the pantomimes he saw at the beginning of his career, loose productions being peddled to the parents with bawdy humour that patronised the children, who were left uninterested in and short-changed by actors having more fun than the audience. It was, he thought a form that 'tried to appeal to everybody, yet ultimately satisfied nobody.'

He took to writing pantomime substitutes, shows created to be programmed in the annual panto season, but not wholly conforming to the panto form. Indeed, Mother Goose's Golden Christmas is not based on the traditional Mother Goose story, but does feature a host of fairy tale characters from Mother Goose herself, to Humpty Dumpty and Little Bo Peep. Set inside a giant book, all the 'little' characters of the fairytales are incorporated into one new story – the daring rescue of the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Mother Goose's Golden Christmas was first presented at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, in December 1977.

Mr Happiness

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A short monologue about a radio agony uncle reading out his listeners’ letters and responding to their troubles of the heart, Mr Happiness first appeared at the Plymouth Theatre on Broadway in 1978.

audio The Norman Conquests

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Ayckbourn’s celebrated trilogy The Norman Conquests - three hilarious and poignant plays depicting the same six characters in one house over one weekend, namely Norman and his romantic follies.

Table Manners: England’s famous seducer of other men’s wives lays siege to his sister-in-law in the first “battle”. A middle-class family trying to have a pleasant country weekend is no match for Norman, who horrifies everyone by doing exactly as he likes. Living Together: In the second “battle” Norman gets drunk on homemade wine – and all hell breaks loose. He unleashes his merry brand of manipulative charm on the hapless guests and even his most formidable opponents go down in defeat on the drawing room rug. Round and Round the Garden: In the third “battle” the setting is Mother’s overgrown English garden, where something more troublesome than brambles lurks among the roses. Havoc ensues as this satirical masterpiece makes its way to a hilarious conclusion. L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performances featuring: Rosalind Ayres as Sarah Kenneth Danziger as Reg Martin Jarvis as Norman Jane Leeves as Annie Christopher Neame as Tom Carolyn Seymour as Ruth

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Kenneth Danziger, Martin Jarvis, Jane Leeves, Christopher Neame, Carolyn Seymour

O Fair Jerusalem

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

It’s 1348 and the Black Death is raging throughout England. Fed up with feudal society, William leaves home to earn his living as a free man and is received into a company of players and tricksters. For these men, the plague offers many lucrative opportunities, from acting as the servants of crusading knights whose men-in-waiting have fled to looting from the dead.

It’s also 1948 in David Edgar’s metatheatrical play about humanity’s response to pandemic suffering. A group of actors are rehearsing a morality play about the plague in a bombed-out church. As they assume their parts and death masks, they are transformed into the motley community living six hundred years previously.

Moving between these two ages of pestilence and war, Edgar unifies these two societies struggling with religious and scientific authorities and disillusioned with the idea of a glorious war.

O Fair Jerusalem received its world premiere in May 1975 at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Studio.

On the Inside

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A companion piece of sorts to On the Outside, On the Inside shows the disappointing reality of the dance that others yearn so desperately to enter. It is the Teacher's Union dance, and at 6s per head entrance, only those with wages and prospects can enter. One of those, Kieran, is none too impressed with the average looking prospects that he has to offer, and seeks a way to escape the inevitability of his average looking girlfriend, and the life that they are heading towards. But like the fun of the dance, even the desire to escape fails to take off fully, and in the fug of drunkenness at the end of the night, Kieran restates his commitment to his mundane existence.

Performed for the first time just weeks after the premiere of On the Outside, On the Inside was first staged at the Peacock Theatre, Dublin, on the 18th of November 1974.

On the Outside

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

It is the evening of the Teacher's Union dance, and Joe and Frank can't afford to get in. Frank is on a promise with a young teacher named Anne, whom he has had to avoid meeting beforehand lest she find out he can't afford to get in. These tradesmen's apprentices are embarrassed by their lack of funds and try every trick they can think of to get in, but spend the whole play outside the doors, seething over the 6s entrance fee, and the chastity their poverty has thrust on them.

In his introduction, leading critic Fintan O'Toole writes that 'within a a very simple story and a very short play a whole range of social tensions is dramatised; in the way the mundane story of two young men waiting outside of a rural dancehall which they haven't the money to enter takes on the metaphysical lineaments of heaven, purgatory and hell.'

On the Outside was first performed on stage at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin, on the 30th of September 1974.

Our Day Out

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Our Day Out is an account of a school trip for students from a remedial class: hilarious, chaotic and lively, but tinged with the suggestion that the disadvantaged children have little else to look forward to.

Mrs Kay’s ‘Progress Class’ are unleashed for a day’s coach trip to Conway Castle in Wales, stopping off at the café, the zoo, the beach and the funfair, the children taking advantage of the numerous opportunities to bicker, fool around, steal and get lost. Russell presents an exuberant celebration of the joys and agonies of growing up and being footloose, fourteen and free from school. But this is more than a romp – Our Day Out points up the depressing present and empty future for these comprehensive-school children from the backstreets of Liverpool, for whom a day out is as much as they can expect.

This tender comedy was originally written for television and transmitted as a BBC ‘Play for Today’ in 1976. It was later adapted for the stage and first performed in 1983 at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool.

Our Own People

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A workers' strike in a weaving factory leads to a standoff with management. However, what would have once been a straightforward class-struggle is complicated by the fact that the Asian workers have a different set of grievances to the Whites. Strikes are called, denied, deemed official or otherwise, and all the while the people at the lowest economic rung are fighting each other for the scraps handed down from above. Added to this the expected redundancies for all female staff, and what emerges is a complex system of oppression, whose particularities are investigated in a Court of Inquiry brought by the Department of Employment

Edgar writes that Our Own People concerns the breakdown in logic that happens when "people originally committed to the idea that the only division that matters is class are forced to come to terms with the notion that there are other divisions between people as deep and perhaps even more painful".

Based on a fictional conflation of many different real-life strikes and disputes, and with echoes of Hauptmann's The Weavers, Our Own People was first performed at the Half Moon Theatre in 1977.

Copyright © 1987 by David Edgar

Outside the Whale

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

George Orwell wrote that to be inside the whale, like Jonah, ‘is a very comfortable, cosy, homelike thought.’ Holman’s play shows Orwell outside the whale, in squalor and poverty and hunger. It is a fictional account of the time Orwell spent living as a homeless person, which would later provide material for his essay The Spike and his first book Down and Out in Paris and London.

The play first shows Eric Blair — George Orwell’s real name — as the budding author, collecting books from his publisher’s warehouse to give as Christmas presents, and then finds him three years earlier dressed as a tramp, breaking into a hen-hut for shelter and living in the intolerable conditions of a workhouse. Outside the Whale is a distressing and moving account of his experiment and the people he meets, whose lives are far from comfortable.

Outside the Whale was first produced in 1976 at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.

Owners

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Owners is a play about property – about possessing, and being possessed.

Clegg the butcher tries to think of ways to kill his wife Marion, who became a successful property developer after being released from a psychiatric hospital. Marion’s assistant Worsely keeps trying to kill himself, but can’t manage it. He is helping Marion acquire a building where the pregnant Lisa and the impossibly apathetic Alec live. Capitalist drive and hermetic passivity are contrasted as babies, sex and flats are swapped and traded.

A combination of morbid absurdity and blunt, oblique storytelling gives this bitterly comic play moral and political force in its examination of the possessiveness of patriarchy and capitalism.

Owners was first presented in 1972 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London.

Pignight

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Pignight, written and first directed by Snoo Wilson, is the madcap story of a German POW, Smitty, who has escaped from the local asylum to work on a pig farm. But Smitty has a problem – the pigs are controlling his mind and they’re telling him to murder and eat the East End gangster and his girlfriend who happen to be running the old pig farm.

Described by the Guardian as ‘A lurid and grotesque commentary which presents a view of atavistic man seen from the sewer upwards’, Pignight is, like much of Wilson’s early work, a stunning combination of intense violence and satirical comedy.

Pignight was first performed by the Portable Theatre playing at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, the Young Vic Studio and the King’s Head Theatre, London, in 1971.

Play Mas

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

1950s Port of Spain. Samuel, a young tailor’s assistant, dreams of Trinidad’s independence.

On the eve of carnival everyone fills the streets, dressed up to play mas. This annual celebration turns to tragedy and spurs Samuel on to make a decision that will change the political landscape of the future of this vibrant, volatile island.

A wickedly funny, exuberant and poignant play from Mustapha Matura. Born in Trinidad, Mustapha Matura is the multi-award-winning writer of numerous plays including Rum an’ Coca-Cola, Playboy of the West Indies and The Coup. Play Mas premiered at the Royal Court in 1974, winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Play, and transferred to the West End. Play Mas received its first major revival at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, opening on 11 March 2015.

Plenty

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Plenty ran at the National Theatre, London, throughout 1978 and the New York production in the autumn of 1982 was equally well received. In counterpointing the experiences of an Englishwoman helping the French Resistance during the war with her life in the following twenty years, the author offers a unique view of postwar history, as well as making a powerful statement about changing values and the collapse of ideals embodied in a single life.

The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Insect Committee won’t take any notice of complaints against the Big Ones’ using insect spray to clear Slug, Greenfly and Maggot off their garden plants, so the injured parties decide it’s time to take the matter into their own hands. The plotters down in Cabbage Patch Corner plan to ruin the garden for the Big Ones, by eating all the vegetation and capturing the other insects. Glow Worm, Ladybird, Bumblebee, Red Admiral and Ant must work together to break free of their trap and stop the plotters from wrecking the garden before they all lose their homes. Can their community reunite before it’s too late?

A lively show of song and dance, The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner was first produced for the Christmas season at the Swan Theatre, Worcester in 1970, before transferring to the Shaw Theatre, London the following year.

audio The Prisoner of Second Avenue

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Neil Simon takes a good look at apartment life, career and role reversals, a nervous breakdown, and the love, torture, care, or inertia that somehow keeps a couple in a relationship for many years. At points, it's laugh-out-loud funny; at other times, it offers sensitive insight into the human condition. Fast-moving dialog with nonstop Simon quips and jokes performed extremely well by two fine actors: who could ask for more? This is classic American comedy produced, acted, recorded, and packaged in an exemplary manner.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Annie Abbott, Lorin Dreyfuss, Richard Dreyfuss, Betty Garrett, Sharon Madden and Marsha Mason.

Featuring: Annie Abbott, Lorin Dreyfuss, Richard Dreyfuss, Betty Garrett, Sharon Madden, Marsha Mason

Privates on Parade

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Marlene Dietrich and the British military seem an unlikely marriage, but Peter Nichols achieves their seamless union in Privates on Parade.

In post-war Malaysia, Terri Dennis presides over the Song and Dance Unit South East Asia, a unit tasked with entertaining their fellow troops. The vaudevillian tone of this play facilitates its raucous story about soldiers, drag-artistry, and post-war colonial politics.

Privates on Parade was first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1977, when it won the Olivier award for Best New Play. It was revived on the West End in 2012 with Simon Russell Beale in the lead role.

The Rear Column

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The Rear Column tells the story of five soldiers stranded in the jungle of the Congo Free State in 1887. They are awaiting the return of the explorer, Henry Morgan Stanley, who has gone to relieve Emin Pasha, General Gordon’s last surviving lieutenant in the Sudan. As food and medicines run out, and the porters become restless, the endurance and sanity of the whole group, and their relationships with one another, are sorely tested.

The Rear Column was presented in February 1978 at the Globe Theatre, London

Rents

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In his introduction, Michael Wilcox writes: 'I always thought Rents was about money and survival rather than homosexuality . . . [it] was written in Edinbugh and Newcastle in 1976. That's before we had heard of AIDS and at a time when Scottish law had not caught up with English law as far as homosexuality was concerned. In Scotland, all homosexual acts between males of any age and in any circumstances were criminal offences with the ultimate threat of life imprisonment for those found guilty.'

Richard is a university lecturer, looking to have a good time with Phil, the housemate and 'companion' of Robert, who works in a men's clothes shops and is, by his own admission 'Edinburgh's leading authority on inside legs'. Together they form the 'Rents' a group of men whose time can be bartered for or bought, be it by an employer or a client.

Described by Time Out magazine as 'a superb and touching comedy about the lives of two rent-boys in Edinburgh', Rents was first produced by the Traverse Theatre Company during the 1979 Edinburgh International Festival.

Returning to Haifa  

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

A compelling story of two families - one Palestinian, one Israeli - forced by history into an intimacy they didn't choose.

In 1948, Palestinian couple Said and Safiyya fled their home during the Nakba. Now, in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, the borders are open for the first time in twenty years, and they dare to return to their home in Haifa. They are ready to find someone else living where they once did, but nothing can prepare them for the encounter they both desire and dread with the son they had to leave behind.

Ghassan Kanafani's classic novella Returning to Haifa has been adapted for the stage by Naomi Wallace and Ismail Khalidi. The play premiered at the Finborough Theatre, London, in February 2018

Reunion

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Reunion is a short, but touching play which shows the meeting between a father and daughter after nearly twenty years of separation. A play which pitches great emotion through restraint, awkwardness and small talk, it was first produced by the St Nicholas Theater Company, Chicago, on 9 January 1976, in a production directed by Cecil O'Neill. It was first produced in Britain in a double bill with Dark Pony at the King's Head Theatre Club, London, in February 1981.

'It would be hard to over-praise the way Mr Mamet suggests behind the probing, joshing family chat an extraordinary sense of pain and loss . . . although the play has astrong social comment about the destrictively cyclical effect of divorce, it is neither sour nor defeatist.' Guardian

The Romans in Britain

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A tough, vigorous epic, The Romans in Britain looks at imperialism and the conflict of cultures, examining Julius Caesar’s invasion of Celtic Britain, a Saxon invasion of Roman-Celtic Britain, and the British Army in the twentieth-century conflict in Northern Ireland.

As these scenes bleed into one another, Brenton suggests what it might have been like for these people to meet. Three Roman soldiers sexually assault a young druid priest. A lone, wounded Saxon soldier stumbles into a field, a nightmare made real. An army intelligence officer begins to lose his mind in the Irish fields. Brenton’s sinewy vernaculars summon a lost history of cultural collision and oppression, of fear and sorrow.

When first performed in 1980 on the Olivier Stage at the National Theatre, London, there was great controversy concerning the scene in which a male priest is raped by a Roman soldier, with the moral campaigner Mary Whitehouse bringing an unsuccessful court case against the production.

audio Round and Round the Garden

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The third “battle” of Ayckbourn’s celebrated trilogy The Norman Conquests, returns us to the same weekend in the country, but this time to the setting of Mother’s overgrown English country garden. Something more troublesome than brambles is lurking among the roses. Havoc ensues among the flora and fauna, as this cynical masterpiece makes its way to a hilarious conclusion.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Rosalind Ayres as Sarah, Kenneth Danziger as Reg, Martin Jarvis as Norman, Jane Leeves as Annie, Christopher Neame as Tom, and Carolyn Seymour as Ruth.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Kenneth Danziger, Martin Jarvis, Jane Leeves, Christopher Neame, Carolyn Seymour

Saigon Rose

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

After a one-night stand with an old flame from America, Vicky loses interest in Clive. Hurt by the betrayal, Clive sleeps with Mo, a waitress from a local café. She in turn is modelling for Clay, the draft-dodging American photographer whose visits up and down the country find him in both Vicky’s and Mo’s beds. The chain of infidelity and promiscuity is uncovered when all four contract the ‘Saigon Rose’, the slang term used by American GIs during the Vietnam War for gonorrhoea.

As the infection spreads, the modern ‘American’ values represented by Clay are also transmitted, corrupting the relationships which connect these four characters. Although sparked by the arrival of the foreign photographer, David Edgar’s portrayal of the clashes in personal, sexual and political mores hints at the underlying fragility of this Scottish society.

Saigon Rose was first presented at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh in July 1976. It was subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1979.

The Saliva Milkshake

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Saliva Milkshake is a short and chilling play, part of Brenton’s group of ‘Plays for the Poor Theatre’ – plays with minimal theatrical requirements and small casts, but fierce intensity.

When Martin comes home to his flat, he finds Joan who has broken in and made herself a coffee, after killing the Home Secretary. They were revolutionary socialists in their student days, but while Joan is still rebelling, Martin has settled into a middle-class academic position, and he is horrified to find Joan appealing to him for help. The play is the story of an intellectual forced into action in an oppressive and watchful society.

The Saliva Milkshake was first performed in 1975 at the Soho Poly Lunchtime Theatre.

The Sanctuary Lamp

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Harry is an out-of-work strongman seeking employment (and shelter) in the sanctuary of a local church. The priest of the church hires him as a clerk, but insists that the arrangement can't include domestic arrangements. He must leave at night and come back in the morning. And above all, he must maintain the flame in the pendant lamp that embodies Christ's presence in the church.

Harry takes him up on half of the offer, working hard then sleeping over, as he hopes to escape from the perceived betrayal at the hands of his ex-partner Francisco. Meanwhile, an innocent young woman named Maudie enters; she too has been using the chapel as a doss-house. When Francisco arrives, the trinity is complete, ready for an entanglement of friendship, rivalry, and perhaps even freedom.

Fintan O'Toole writes: 'With The Sanctuary Lamp, we get a modern play that has the scale of ambition of the Greeks. It is not just that the play is a version of sorts of the The Oresteia with Harry starting out as the Orestes of Eumenides, seeking sanctuary in the temple of Apollo from the Furies that pursue him, becoming Agamemnon haunted by the death of his daughter, and becoming again Orestes bent on revenge. More importantly, it is that Murphy follows the Greek original in seeking to make a play about nothing less than the replacement of the old gods by the new, of worn-out Christianity by a new faith in man.

'The Sanctuary Lamp was first produced by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in 1975.

The Sea: A comedy

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Set in the high Edwardian world of 1907, The Sea is a fascinating blend of wild farce, high comedy, biting social satire and poetic tragedy.

A wild storm shakes a small East Anglian seaside village, and Willy is unable to save his friend from drowning. The raving coastguard is too drunk to do anything; Hatch the draper is passing by but he believes that hovering alien spaceships are slowly replacing people’s brains, and he refuses to help. while the grande dame Mrs Rafi, bastion of respectability, amateur theatricals and velvet curtains from Birmingham, sets her face against the chaos.

This collection of furious eccentricity, the bitter collision of class, and the fierce burning of grief sways between light-hearted comedy and desolate poetry, an examination of rural manners and humanity’s unqualified potential.

The Sea was first produced in 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre, London.

Season's Greetings

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Now we don't want to start Christmas like this, do we?

Cheating at snakes and ladders, fighting over comic books, a bungled infidelity beneath the tree. Christmas has arrived in the Bunker household along with family and friends. But as the children lurk just out of sight, it's the adults who are letting the side down.

Presiding over the festivities are two warring uncles, one a kindly, incompetent doctor with an interminable puppet show to perform; the other a bullying retired security guard who dominates the TV, brings toy guns for his nieces and determines there's a thief in their midst.

Season's Greetings was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, in 1980.