Plays

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.