Plays

Alice Trilogy

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Alice Trilogy is a haunting triptych of disappointment and gnawing sadness. Three acts, closer to monologues than conversations, show three ages in the life of Alice, an unhappy housewife.

1980, in the afternoon murk of her attic, with whiskey in her coffee, is she losing her grip on reality?

1995, she has summoned a lost love to meet her by the gasworks wall.

2005, at the airport, a tragedy presses to the surface of her internal monologue.

Alice is a mesmerising creation, existing only half in her domestic married life, and half in a dream-like world of alter-egos and strange detachment.

Alice Trilogy premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in 2005.

audio Aliens in America

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Contemporary satirist Sandra Tsing Loh spins a darkly comic, autobiographical tale of growing up middle class Chinese-German in Southern California. This witty monologue is for sons and daughters everywhere who feel that their parents must have been beamed to earth from another planet.

An L.A. Theatre Works solo performance featuring Sandra Tsing Loh.

Featuring: Sandra Tsing Loh

All But Gone  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Love is the rarest of things...it's the rarest trick...and we feel entitled to it, don't we?

Owen may live in the present but his mind remains lodged firmly in the past. As he's forced into a relationship with a teenager with emotional behavioural problems he blurs aspects of his current life with the memories of what might have been and the opportunities and relationships that could have changed his world. Riddled with regret over the man he loved and the chance to flee rural Wales he's unable to detach himself from past mistakes.

An exciting new play by an established Welsh writer inspired by experiences working at an emotional behavioral difficulty education unit. All But Gone explores a man's relationship with his past as two world collide and his fractured mind merges the life he once knew with the lonely world in which he exists. 

All New People

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The dead of winter, Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Charlie has hit rock bottom. Far removed from the rest of the world, this perfect escape is interrupted by a motley parade of misfits who show up and change his plans. An eccentric English real estate agent desperately trying to stay in the country, a fireman, and a hired beauty all suddenly find themselves tangled together in a beach house where the mood is anything but sunny.

All New People is the hilarious and poignant playwriting debut of Zach Braff, writer and director of the acclaimed film Garden State which was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay and won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature.

The play premiered at the Tony Kiser Theatre, New York City on 25 July 2011 in a production by Second Stage Theatre, and opened in the UK at the Manchester Opera House on 8 February 2012.

All of You Mine

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

All of you Mine is a mysterious drama set in a mining community, near 'any one of fourteen ex-pit villages around Doncaster, South Yorkshire, whose pits were closed either as a planned programme, or as a direct result of the 1984 miners' strike.'

Twelve years on from the mining accident which precipitated the closure of the mine and the breaking of the strike, a memorial is being erected to the five men who died. The Cade family lost and gained much from that accident: daughter Verna, now 37, lost the father of her son, while her older brother Danum gained the site for the garden centre which he still runs prosperously at the play's opening. Meanwhile, at the head of the family stands their half-blind mother Cissy, who sees more, and knows more, than she is willing to share freely.

This mysterious family drama, which slowly builds to the revelation that the disaster may not have been so accidental, was described at the time as an eloquent lament for an eclipsed mining community. It premiered at the Bush theatre, London, in 1997.

All Over Lovely

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

All Over Lovely is a two-character play, which frames a furious debate about politicising feminism and sexuality and darts between the intellectual and the deeply personal.

Two women who grew up together meet before a funeral. One of them maintains defiantly that lipstick and a Porsche is not a betrayal of feminism; the other’s anarchist principles have somehow turned into an organic fruit and vegetable company who supply to Sainsbury’s. Their conversation – sometimes vicious, sometimes comic, sometimes loving – reveals a relationship composed of childhood jealousies, adolescent sexual awakening, politicised lesbianism and feminist compromise. Dowie’s crackling, looping dialogue attacks constructions of femininity, love and success in this lithe and razor-sharp play.

All Over Lovely was first performed at the Traverse Theatre in 1996.

All the Little Lights

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Jane Upton's play All the Little Lights is a drama about the sexual exploitation of young girls who have fallen through the system. It was produced by Fifth Word and Nottingham Playhouse, and first performed at Nottingham Playhouse, on 20 October 2015, later touring the UK in 2017. The play was the joint winner of the George Devine Award for most promising playwright in 2016.

The play is set 'somewhere on the outskirts of an urban sprawl, high up overlooking houses, next to a railway line.' Joanne (age 16) is throwing an impromptu birthday party for her friend Lisa (15), who has recently been taken into foster care and has reluctantly agreed to come along. Joanne has brought her new sidekick, Amy (12), promising to introduce her to TJ, an older man from the local chip shop. As the three young women camp out near the railway line, they talk about anything but the traumatic experiences Joanne and Lisa have been through. They also play games, from a version of chicken when they hear the trains approaching, to imagining who lives in the ‘little lights’ that they can see in the distance. But the horror of what has happened to them in the past, and what might yet happen to Amy, gradually emerges.

The original production was directed by Laura Ford and designed by Max Dorey. It was performed by Esther-Grace Button as Amy, Sarah Hoare as Lisa and Tessie Orange-Turner as Joanne.

All the Ordinary Angels

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

All The Ordinary Angels is a comedy of treats and dirty tricks in the world of ice-cream, as a family business becomes a family feud.

When ice-cream man Giuseppe Raffa decides it’s finally time to come in from the cold and retire, he sets his two sons in competition with each other. The winner will gain the family business; the loser will be left with nothing. Supported and obstructed by Rocco’s wife Bernie and Lino’s girlfriend Lulu, their fight for the hearts and money of the people quickly becomes deadly serious. It is a lively and satirical story of love, competition and selling ice-cream in rainy Manchester.

All the Ordinary Angels premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 2005.

All You Need Is LSD

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The drug laws in this country- the drug laws IN THE WORLD - all stem from this attitude that pleasure is a bad thing...

In 2015, acclaimed British playwright Leo Butler accepted an invitation from former Government drugs tsar, Professor David Nutt, to be a guinea pig in the world's first LSD medical trials since the 1960s. Monty Python, Being John Malkovich, and Alice in Wonderland all resonate in this exhilarating and original comedy as we watch Leo jump down the rabbit-hole of a medical trial in search of enlightenment - and a good story.

Along the way he meets an array of characters from Aldous Huxley and The Beatles, to Steve Jobs and Ronald Reagan, whose own stories in the history of LSD are hilariously and poignantly uncovered.
Does the world still need a psychedelic revolution? And will Leo make it back home in time for tea?

Part history, party wild fantasy, this darkly humorous new play illuminates the drugs debate that won't go away and examines the freedom we have to make our own choices in life, and death.

The Almighty Sometimes  

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Diagnosed with a severe mental illness as a child, Anna was prescribed a cocktail of pills. Now a young adult, she’s wondering how life might feel without them. But as she tries to move beyond the labels that have defined her, her mother feels compelled to intervene – threatening the fragile balance they have both fought so hard to maintain.

Winner of a Judges Award at the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, Kendall Feaver’s The Almighty Sometimes premiered at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, in February 2018. The play received the the UK Theatre Award for Best New Play at 2018.

Contemporary British theatre

British theatre culture is characterised by innovative new writing, naturalistic acting and responsiveness to political change. During the past three decades, upheavals in society have been mirrored by the theatre. The long reign of Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which started in May 1979 and ended in November 1990, broke the economic, social and political consensus of postwar Britain, introducing the ideology of monetarism, the practice of privatisation and the rule of the market. In the 1980s, the money distributed by the Arts Council to theatres was repeatedly cut. In 1994, the National Lottery was created by John Major’s Conservative government, and this paid for ambitious theatre building projects. The arrival of Tony Blair and New Labour in 1997 continued these trends, but it was not until the 2000s that, following the Boyden Report, an extra £25 million was pumped into the beleaguered theatre system nationwide. One result was a boom in new writing in the first decade of the new millennium.

The profoundest effect of Thatcherism was commercialisation: during the 1980s and 1990s, theatres became businesses as well as arts organizations. These years also saw the amazing triumph of the commercial West End. Composer and theatre-owner Andrew Lloyd Webber made theatre history in 1991 with six shows running at the same time in London’s Theatreland. In July 1993 his Sunset Boulevard opened with £4 million in advance bookings, and in January 1996 Cats (1981) — with its instantly recognisable yellow-eye logo — became the longest running musical in history. In 1994, he repeated his achievements of 1982 and 1988 by having three musicals running in London and three in New York at the same time. Two years later, Madonna starred in the film version of his Evita. In the 1997 New Year’s honours list, as a farewell gift from the departing Conservatives, he was made a life peer, a high point of a career that made him one of the richest men in Britain. Likewise, Cameron Mackintosh, the other major musical producer, enjoyed continued success with Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubil’s Les Miserables (1985), which had been developed by the RSC and is currently the longest-running musical, closely followed by Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera (1986), both making billions in box office worldwide. The decade ended with Schonberg and Boubil’s Miss Saigon (1989) and the arrival of jukebox musicals, led by Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (1989). Since then, other West End long-runners include Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers (1983), Disney’s The Lion King (1997) and Abba’s Mamma Mia! (1999). Agatha Christie’s museum-piece The Mousetrap (1952) was joined by Stephen Mallatratt’s The Woman in Black (1987) and more recently by Patrick Barlow’s The 39 Steps (2005). By 2012, the Society of London Theatre announced that annual West End ticket sales had topped £500 million.

The broad trends of British theatre in the 1980s included not only the emergence of blockbusting musicals, but also the arrival of epic theatre. A good example is David Edgar’s eight-and-a half-hour adaptation of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby for the state-subsidised RSC in 1980. Another is Tony Harrison’s three-part version of The Mysteries (1985) for the National Theatre. Traditionally, a mixture of naturalism and socially progressive realism was, to a greater or lesser extent, the main aesthetic of British theatre. Playwrights sought both to mirror society, and to change it. Controversial new plays by the 1968 generation of radicals were headed by Howard Brenton’s The Romans in Britain (1980), which was the subject of a private prosecution for obscenity by Mary Whitehouse. Other notable plays were Brenton and David Hare’s satirical Pravda (1985), Jim Cartwright’s debut Road (1986), Alan Ayckbourn’s A Small Family Business (1987) and Hare’s The Secret Rapture (1988). Each engaged with the social impact of Thatcherism.

Two other trends were visible: the rise in women playwrights and of black and Asian theatre. Older women such as Caryl Churchill, Pam Gems and Timberlake Wertenbaker were joined by new arrivals such as Sarah Daniels, April de Angelis, Charlotte Keatley, Sharman Macdonald and Andrea Dunbar. Churchill’s Top Girls (1982) and Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should (1987) are now modern classics. Characteristically, these plays represent women’s lives through an innovative approach to structure. Churchill’s Serious Money (1987) and Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good (1988) explore the contemporary by engaging with history. Dunbar was a genuinely working-class writer, and her play Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1982) was also filmed. Daniels’s Masterpieces (1983) is a feminist tract.

Black and Asian companies such as Tara Arts, Tamasha and Talawa, plus playwrights Hanif Kureishi (Outskirts), Mustapha Matura (Playboy of the West Indies) and Winsome Pinnock (Leave Taking), made their presence felt during the 1980s. Another trend involved the creation of small-scale companies, whose highly recognisable aesthetic styles proved widely influential. These were headed by Théâtre de Complicité, which later became Complicite, and whose long line of physical-theatre productions culminated in Mnemonic (1999). Likewise, Shared Experience pioneered outstanding adaptations of classic novels, often scripted by Helen Edmundson, while Cheek by Jowl concentrated on vividly acted revivals of the classics. But, across the decade, the embattled feeling due to cuts in state subsidy had a demoralising effect. By the end of the 1980s, there was talk of a crisis in new writing.

In the 1990s, new writing revived, but political plays gave way to personal ones. Starting with younger playwrights such as Philip Ridley (The Pitchfork Disney) and Anthony Neilson (Penetrator), a new sensibility, called in-yer-face theatre, developed. While the moment of in-yer-face theatre — raw, uncompromising drama that smashed taboos and provoked audiences — was short-lived, spanning the four years between the arrival of Sarah Kane’s notoriously shocking debut Blasted at the Royal Court in January 1995 and her suicide in February 1999, it changed the face of new writing.

The sudden emergence of a large number of new voices — Mark Ravenhill, Jez Butterworth, Martin McDonagh, Patrick Marber, Joe Penhall, David Eldridge, Moira Buffini, Phyllis Nagy, Judy Upton, Rebecca Prichard and Nick Grosso — suggested a renaissance and some critics spoke enthusiastically of a golden age. Ravenhill’s Shopping and Fucking (1996) publicised the new sensibility, while Butterworth’s Mojo (1995), McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy (1997) and Marber’s Closer (1997) were commercially successful.

From Scotland came David Greig and David Harrower (Knives in Hens); from Ireland arrived Conor McPherson, whose The Weir (1997) was a massive West End success. Elsewhere, Roy Williams and Tanika Gupta moved across the theatrical spectrum from writing plays about their Caribbean and Bengali heritage to penning dramas about contemporary Britain. Ayub Khan Din’s East Is East (1997) was a big hit. In terms of the avant-garde, Martin Crimp’s Attempts on Her Life (1997) was the most experimental and daring play of the decade. It could never be as commercial as Jonathan Harvey’s feelgood Beautiful Thing (1993), Kevin Elyot’s comic My Night with Reg (1994) and Shelagh Stephenson’s resonant The Memory of Water (1996). Bucking the widespread trend against political drama, the Tricycle Theatre produced The Colour of Justice (1999), a tribunal theatre piece based on the Stephen Lawrence enquiry.

In the 1990s, many new writers were interested in the overarching subject of masculinity in crisis, but older playwrights had other concerns: having penned a farce classic — Noises Off (1982) — in the 1980s, Michael Frayn wrote a dazzling science play, Copenhagen (1998), while Stoppard’s Arcadia (1993) and The Invention of Love (1997) explored Englishness, as did Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III (1991) and The Wind in the Willows (1991). David Hare’s Trilogy (1993), Skylight (1995) and Amy’s View (1997) confirmed his status as the National’s in-house political dramatist, while David Edgar’s Pentecost (1994) examined global politics after the Fall of the Berlin Wall. By contrast, Terry Johnson’s Hysteria (1993) and Dead Funny (1994) mixed farce with gender insights. Howard Barker and Edward Bond continued to write their uniquely challenging work.

In the 2000s, as state funding for theatre rose, new writing multiplied in its practitioners and diversified in its subjects — and young writers rediscovered overtly political concerns. In the aftermath of 9/11, the fashion for verbatim theatre was widespread: David Hare’s Stuff Happens (2004) mixed fact and fiction, while My Name Is Rachel Corrie and Talking to Terrorists are but two of many examples. Other political plays were headed by Alistair Beaton’s Feelgood (2001), which satirised Blair’s obsession with spin. Likewise, typical 2000s’ themes were the War on Terror, the Iraq War and the culture of fear, the social problems of poverty and violence, the effects of migration from the EU and beyond, and the disaffection of segregated communities. Joe Penhall’s ethical debate drama Blue/Orange (2000) and Charlotte Jones’s family drama Humble Boy (2001) were often revived.

As far as new arrivals are concerned, Simon Stephens (On the Shore of the Wide World) and Richard Bean were two of the most prolific and powerful new voices to emerge in this decade. Bean’s England People Very Nice (2009) was very provocative and his Goldoni adaptation, One Man, Two Guvnors (2011) was a huge international success, as was Jez Butterworth’s battered pastoral Jerusalem (2009). Similarly, in Scotland, Gregory Burke joined David Greig, David Harrower and Liz Lochhead as a chronicler of the new millennium. His Black Watch (2006) and Anthony Neilson’s The Wonderful World of Dissocia (2004) were hits for the newly established National Theatre of Scotland. Meanwhile, the most controversial play of the decade, Gurprett Kaur Bhatti’s Behzti (2004), was staged in Birmingham, and concerned religion and abuse.

While new black playwrights such as Kwame Kwei-Armah (Elmina’s Kitchen) and debbie tucker green (Stoning Mary) were staged at the National and Royal Court, The Big Life, a musical about the Windrush generation, moved from the Theatre Royal Stratford East into the West End in 2005. Roy Williams’s Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads (2002) and Tanika Gupta’s Sugar Mummies (2006) were notable successes. The increase in dystopic visions of the future testifies to the imagination of playwrights: examples include Caryl Churchill’s Far Away (2000), her A Number (2002) and Philip Ridley’s Mercury Fur (2005). Lucy Prebble’s Enron (2009) summed up the economic crisis; Alan Bennett’s The History Boys (2004) and Lee Hall’s The Pitman Painters (2007) explored the past.

A new crop of talents, such as Dennis Kelly, Laura Wade, Mike Bartlett, Tim Crouch, Steve Waters, Bola Agbaje, Chloe Moss, Polly Stenham, Penelope Skinner and James Graham, together ensured that the 2000s were a remarkable decade for new writing. Many were also commercially successful: Peter Gill’s The York Realist (2002), Polly Stenham’s That Face (2007), Laura Wade’s Posh (2010), April De Angelis’s Jumpy (2011) and Nick Payne’s Constellations (2012) all transferred to the West End. As did National Theatre shows such as Nick Stafford’s adaptation of War Horse (2007), with its puppetry, and One Man, Two Guvnors, with its slapstick. Finally, new forms of non-text-based theatre, such as the work of the Shunt and Punchdrunk companies, as well as experiments in site-specific, immersive theatre and one-on-one theatre, made a big impact. By 2012, the effects of Coalition government cuts in funding for the theatre had not as yet been felt.

Aleks Sierz