DOI: 10.5040/9781408182505.00000074
Roles: Male (5) , Female (0) , Neutral (0)

'A one-act play is like a confession'. So writes Steven Berkoff in the preface to the collection of his One-Act Plays. In his introduction to the collection, Geoffrey Colman, Head of Acting at Central School of Speech and Drama writes:'It is the one-act play, however, that most profoundly and immediately amplifies Berkoff’s extraordinary literary and theatrical voice. . . In discussion, [Berkoff's] eyes quite literally light up at the mere mention of the one-act construct. With relish, he outlines the bare-knuckled immediacy of its form and fatal but inevitable blow. Perhaps the very real pleasure in reading these nineteen one-act plays by Berkoff should not be about comparing them to his other plays at all, but imagining them newly and in performance. Berkoff’s theatre continues to refuse smallness of theme and narrative, and defies those who wish to collapse the place of theatre into reality-inspired ‘true’. A reading of these pieces will require the need for a performance alertness, ‘real’ at its very threshold.'

'The plays in the ‘Persecution’ sequence have the removed authority of poetry, being more like fragments or woodcuts with all detail captured . . . Gas, at three pages long, is arguably the most impacting and devastating of all the plays in this collection. Three prisoners await the gas that will finally extinguish them, appearing here simply as nameless figures at their mortal end. The cold, last moments of their being are laid out as though on an undertaker’s slab, last desperate prayers are uttered, and exchanges so pitiful and grasping are made in a desperate attempt to mean something. At the end comes not a prayer or scream, but the simple protestation of five simple, gasping, repeated statements of love.'

From Steven Berkoff: One Act Plays


Bloomsbury Publishing

Steven Berkoff

ISBN: 9781408182475

Series: Play Anthologies

Buy this work