Clare McIntyre

Plays by Clare McIntyre

Low Level Panic

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Clare McIntyre's play Low Level Panic is considered a modern feminist classic, examining the effects of society's objectification of women. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in association with the Women’s Playhouse Trust on 11 February 1988, winning the Samuel Beckett Award the following year.

The play is set in a bathroom in a house shared by three women: Jo and Mary (both in their twenties) and Celia ('possibly older but not much'). There are two scenes set outside the house, and the voices of two men are heard in scene two. Jo is worried that she is fat; she doesn’t have as much sex as she would like but fantasises about having rough sex with lorry drivers and being a beautiful, mute woman with amazing legs having sex with a yacht-owning millionaire. Mary, however, is the recent victim of a sexual assault, and wonders if the way she was dressed contributed to her assault. Celia believes that the right shade of eye shadow can secure life-long happiness. Forced to share the bathroom, the three women confide in each other, as well as with the mirrors, revealing their private fantasies and anxieties.

The premiere production was directed by Nancy Meckler and designed by Lucy Weller. It was performed by Caroline Quentin as Jo, Lorraine Brunning as Mary and Alaine Hickmott as Celia.

Clare McIntyre (1952-2009) was amongst the extraordinary generation of British female playwrights who emerged in the 1980s. Her best-known plays, including Low Level Panic (Royal Court Theatre, London, 1988) and My Heart's a Suitcase (Royal Court, 1990; winner of the Evening Standard and London Drama Critics awards for Most Promising Playwright), are now considered modern feminist classics. She also had an extensive career writing and acting for film, radio and television.