Plays by C. P. Taylor

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.


Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A story about a liberal-minded university professor who drifts well-meaningly into a position in the upper reaches of the Nazi administration, Good is a profound and alarming examination of passivity and the rationalisation of evil.

John Halder, a professor of literature, seems to be a good man; he diligently visits his blind and senile mother and looks after his vacant wife and three children. He is unremarkable, other than an unusual neurotic tic: the imaginary sound of band music plays in the background of his life, particularly at moments of high emotion. But by writing a book – the result of his own experience – discussing euthanasia for senile elderly people and by lecturing on the delicacy of German literary culture, John has unintentionally made himself a very desirable acquisition for the Nazi party.

By rationalised and intellectually reasoned steps he is absorbed into the direction of the death camps, a transformation all the more chilling because it does not seem dramatic, until the last horrible resounding note of the play.

Good is a structured stream of consciousness, punctured by the musical medley that plays inside Halder’s head. The first production was staged at the London Warehouse in 1982.

Picture of C. P. Taylor

Cecil Philip Taylor (1929-81) was a Glasgow-born playwright who wrote just under eighty plays during his sixteen years as a professional playwright. His plays largely drew on his Jewish background and socialist viewpoint. His works include Mr David , Happy Days Are Here Again, Bread and Butter, Lies About Vietnam, The Black and White Minstrels, Next Year in Tel Aviv, Schippel, Gynt, Walter, and Good - the latter arguably his most successful play. Taylor worked throughout his career with both the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and the Live Theatre Company, Newcastle. He died of pneumonia in 1981.