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.