DOI: 10.5040/9781408182505.00000061
Roles: Male (1) , Female (1) , 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 . . . An ‘appalling tale’, so described by Berkoff in his author’s note for Roast, this play describes a horrific anti-Semitic story in such rich and exquisite language that it acts as a sort of morphine-like cloak, numbing our ability to resist such an utterly gruesome account of a mother telling a story to a child. The antique repetition of its language sets this play apart from our own age, feeling almost late nineteenth century in style, as Wilde or Maeterlinck might have described the atrocity of a twentieth-century world war.'

From Steven Berkoff: One Act Plays


Bloomsbury Publishing

Steven Berkoff

ISBN: 9781408182475

Series: Play Anthologies

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