Plays by Robin French

Gilbert is Dead

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Gilbert Is Dead is a Victorian scientific mystery play: a clever, funny and moving portrait of grief, faith and science.

The plot follows Lucius Trickett, London's most celebrated taxidermist, who finds himself in cahoots with Queen Victoria and the hero Gilbert Shirley, to disprove Darwin's theory of evolution. The key is a stuffed specimen of the mysterious ghost loris, suicidal enough to disprove the theory that every animal struggles for survival. But Gilbert goes missing and the fate of Trickett’s private museum hangs in the balance. The play’s distinctive, often surrealist voice is characterised by historically intelligent, meticulously researched subjects and a precise, quirky sense of irony. It is an academic, mad-cap labyrinth, toying with history, scientific theories and popular beliefs.

Gilbert is Dead premiered at Hoxton Music Hall, London in 2009.

The Red Helicopter  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Robin French's play The Red Helicopter is an epic, futuristic drama about innocence, community and the dangerous power of unquestioning belief.

The play was first performed by the Young Friends of the Almeida Lab at the Almeida Theatre, London, on 7 August 2010. It is published as part of the Nick Hern Books Multiplay Drama series featuring large-cast plays specifically written to be performed by and appeal to older teenagers and young adults.

The play’s action is set in 2072, on the third floor of a disused skyscraper in the east of London. Following a cataclysmic economic and social decline, the UK has been abandoned by its inhabitants in a mass exodus. London has become a ghost city, populated by the few who have remained. A group of twenty young people, aged between thirteen and sixteen, live in the skyscraper, surrounded by deep snow up the level of the third floor. At the top of the ruthless hierarchy is sixteen-year-old 'Daddy', who has taken control of the only Internet connection, promising that one day they will all be lifted to safety by a red helicopter. But then a stranger from the North arrives looking for a girl who disappeared from the group a year ago.

The original production was directed by Tessa Walker, and performed by members of the company.

Robin French studied modern and medieval languages at Cambridge University and playwriting on the Royal Court Young Writers' Programme. Plays include Bear Hug (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs and subsequent productions in Italy, Germany, Ireland and Poland), Africa and Pigeon (Flight 5065 on the London Eye), and Breakfast Hearts/Choirplay (Theatre 503). Robin was chosen by the Observer as one of the country's most promising talents. He is writer in residence at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.