Plays

13

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

At the beginning of Bartlett’s political and profound epic play, twelve completely different people across London wake up from an identical, terrifying dream – monsters and explosions, thousands of voices. At the same moment, a young man named John returns home after years away to find economic gloom, ineffective protest, and a Prime Minister about to declare war. But John has a vision for the future and a way to make it happen.

Coincidences, omens and visions collide with political reality in this ambitious and dextrous play, which depicts a London both familiar and strange, a London staring into the void.

13 explores the meaning of personal responsibility, the hold that the past has over the future and the nature of belief itself.

The play was first performed in 2011 at the National Theatre, London.

Absolutely! (Perhaps)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Absolutely! (Perhaps) is a sparkling comedy on the elusive nature of reality, in which truth is negotiable and identity is performed. It is an adaptation of Luigi Pirandello’s first play Così è (Se Vi Pare), and opened at the Wyndham’s Theatre in 2003.

In a small Italian town lives Signor Ponza, his wife and his apparent mother-in-law Signora Frola, who he will not allow to visit. With the neighbours gossiping over his cruelty, Signor Ponza claims that Signora Frola is mad and refusing to accept that her daughter is dead, and that he now lives with his second wife. Signora Frola counters the accusation, claiming that Ponza has unwittingly re-married his first wife. Impossibly, the Signora Ponza in question claims to be both daughter and second wife, plunging the play into a tangle of fractious theatricality.

The Accused

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Jeffrey Archer's play The Accused was written with a nod to the similarities of the performative environments that are the Courts of Justice and the theatre stage: here, the audience listen to the cases made by both sides of a murder trial, ask themselves if Dr Sherwood murdered his wife, if Jennifer Mitchell was his mistress, and which, if any, of his alibis should be believed.

At the end of the trial, the audience are then asked to deliver their verdict; do they think the doctor is guilty or not guilty. After their verdict is given, the play continues, with one of two endings, depending on how they have voted. Only then is the truth fully revealed.

The Accused premiered at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, in September 2000.

Adult Child/Dead Child

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

How do we cope without love? The need for love and care, and the trauma that’s brought about by its absence is at the heart of Claire Dowie’s Adult Child/Dead Child.

The unnamed protagonist of this one-person show is confronted throughout her life with excessive discipline and punishment from her parents. Whether it’s the eye-for-an-eye punishment her father insists upon, or the hours of claustrophobia and inactivity spent corralled in the cupboard under the stairs, throughout the play we see the building tension that comes from living with parents who would rather chastise than show love.

Her only comfort comes in the shape of her imaginary friend, Benji, who becomes company of sorts at first, only to turn into something more troubling and sinister as her condition worsens.

Adult Child/Dead Child won a Time Out award in 1988, with Time Out magazine describing it as ‘A strangley exhilarating experience as well as a subtle exploration of a personality under siege.'

Adult Child/Dead Child was first presented at the Finborough Theatre Club, London, on 5 June 1987, before embarking on a national tour of the UK. Performed by the author, it was directed by Dowie’s long-time collaborator Colin Watkeys.

An Adventure

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

On a stormy night in 1954, a woman doomed to marry one of five men discovers the wildcard choice might just be the person she'd been hoping for all along. An Adventure follows headstrong Jyoti and her fumbling suitor Rasik as they ride the crest of the fall of the Empire from the shores of post-Partition India to the forests of Mau Mau Kenya onto the industrial upheaval of 1970s London and the present day.

But what happens when youthful ambitions crash hard against reality? When you look back at the story of your time together, can you bear to ask yourself: was it all worth it?

Witty, charming and full of fearless historical insight, An Adventure is an epic, technicolour love story from one of the country's most promising young writers about the people who journeyed to British shores in hope and shaped the country we live in today.

Advice for the Young at Heart

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

It’s 2011 and 1958 and London is rioting. Candice is ordered by her gang-leading boyfriend to lure Clint into a honeytrap. Haunted by her grandfather’s mistakes, she stands at a crossroads. Will she do as she’s told, or will she learn to be true to herself before history repeats itself?

A modern tale for riotous times, commissioned and developed by Theatre Centre, Advice for the Young at Heart examines 2011’s unrest against the background of the 1958 race riots, exploring themes of race, family and misguided loyalty. A new play for young people aged 14+.

Advice for the Young at Heart was first performed at Redbridge Drama Centre, London, on 12 September 2013.

After Independence

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Guy and Kathleen grow their crops, raise their daughter, and pay their taxes. But Africa is changing, country by country. White farmers in Zimbabwe must now answer for history’s crimes. When Charles arrives with a smile and a purchase order, there’s more than just land at stake. With violence threatening to erupt, he will do whatever it takes to restore their farm to the ‘native’ population.

As truths are revealed and moralities questioned, are things ever more than simply black and white?

Inspired by real events in Zimbabwe, May Sumbwanyambe’s debut play is an unflinching examination of land ownership, dispossession and justice in a post-colonial world.

Winner of the 2016 Alfred Fagon Audience Award, After Independence received its world premiere at the Arcola Theatre, London, on 4 May 2016, in a production by Papatango Theatre Company.

After The Rainfall

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Throughout history, the study of ants (myrmecology) has been used as an analogy for human behaviour. This piece uses myrmecology as a prism through which to view the present day. Navigating the arid Egyptian desert, continental Europe, the British Museum and a quiet village green, this piece is a patchwork of multidimensional narratives about the aftermath of the Empire.

curious directive conjure a world where multimedia, movement and sound unpick Britain's relationship to artefacts, mining and the secret life of ants.

An epic, thumping, passionate story asking questions about the relationship between our past, present and into eternity, After the Rainfall was a collaboration between curious directive, Watford Palace Theatre and Escalator East to Edinburgh and was first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012.

Against  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

 Go where there's violence.

Silicon Valley. The future. A rocket launches.

Luke is an aerospace billionaire who can talk to anyone. But God is talking to him. He sets out to change the world. Only violence stands in his way.

Christopher Shinn's gripping play received its world premiere at the Almeida Theatre on 12 August 2017 in a production directed by Ian Rickson and featuring Ben Whishaw as Luke.

The Age of Consent

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Age of Consent places in counterpoint two acutely uncomfortable monologues about childhood, responsibility and the shattering of innocence.

One voice is a teenager awaiting his release from a correctional facility after serving his time for the murder of a child. The other is the young mother of a child performer, ruthlessly scheming for fame and fortune, and making sure her daughter will do absolutely whatever it takes.

The characters are united by a sense of denial, as well as the humanity that can exist behind even the most monstrous abuse. Morris’s controversial and powerful play premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 2001, and was condemned and acclaimed for tackling the subject of child killers.

Agnes Colander - An Attempt at Life  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

We should all have been taught more of life and less good manners

It is three years since Agnes, an artist, left her unfaithful husband Henry. Now he writes to her in her Kensington studio begging to reunite, but Agnes married young; her innocence has gone and her ambition and independence is growing. As she travels from London to France, Agnes finds herself torn between Otho, a worldly Danish artist and Alec, an infatuated younger suitor, between a longing to paint and be an independent woman and a yearning to be loved.

This witty and compelling exploration of love, sexual attraction and independence was written in 1900 and unearthed among Granville Barker's papers in the British Library a century later. Revised by playwright and librettist Richard Nelson this edition was published to coincide with the world premiere at the Theatre Royal Bath in Spring 2018. 

Alaska

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Alaska is a tale of prejudice, sex and aggression, a portrait of unabashed racism.

The audience is introduced to Frank as a drug-dealing self-righteous History student. Having dropped out of university, he works at a cinema kiosk, where his colleagues are attracted to his tense and sullen manner. But brought into contact with Mamta, an Asian co-worker, he soon emerges as a hostile white supremacist, supporting his pseudo-intellectual prejudices by twisting history and quoting Biblical mistranslations. The play’s downward spiral of lies and violence unravels Frank’s desperation and obsession, and discusses identity and race in modern Britain.

The play was first performed at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in 2007.

Albert's Boy

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Graham’s portrait of Einstein’s tortured conscience is delightfully tinged with both homely and black humour, in a play that is nonetheless deeply serious about questions of pacifism and necessity.

It is 1953 and Albert Einstein’s house is empty, his cat is missing, he can’t unify the fields of relativity and particle physics and he can’t escape his guilt. When a family friend, newly released from a POW camp, comes to visit, a warm reunion soon becomes a collision of opposing beliefs on the subjects of evil, the winning of wars and the construction of the atomic bomb. Albert’s Boy is both a fascinating biographical sketch and a passionate duet about the ethics of moral responsibility. The play premiered at the Finborough Theatre in 2005.

All But Gone  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Love is the rarest of things...it's the rarest trick...and we feel entitled to it, don't we?

Owen may live in the present but his mind remains lodged firmly in the past. As he's forced into a relationship with a teenager with emotional behavioural problems he blurs aspects of his current life with the memories of what might have been and the opportunities and relationships that could have changed his world. Riddled with regret over the man he loved and the chance to flee rural Wales he's unable to detach himself from past mistakes.

An exciting new play by an established Welsh writer inspired by experiences working at an emotional behavioral difficulty education unit. All But Gone explores a man's relationship with his past as two world collide and his fractured mind merges the life he once knew with the lonely world in which he exists. 

All New People

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The dead of winter, Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Charlie has hit rock bottom. Far removed from the rest of the world, this perfect escape is interrupted by a motley parade of misfits who show up and change his plans. An eccentric English real estate agent desperately trying to stay in the country, a fireman, and a hired beauty all suddenly find themselves tangled together in a beach house where the mood is anything but sunny.

All New People is the hilarious and poignant playwriting debut of Zach Braff, writer and director of the acclaimed film Garden State which was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay and won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature.

The play premiered at the Tony Kiser Theatre, New York City on 25 July 2011 in a production by Second Stage Theatre, and opened in the UK at the Manchester Opera House on 8 February 2012.

All Over Lovely

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

All Over Lovely is a two-character play, which frames a furious debate about politicising feminism and sexuality and darts between the intellectual and the deeply personal.

Two women who grew up together meet before a funeral. One of them maintains defiantly that lipstick and a Porsche is not a betrayal of feminism; the other’s anarchist principles have somehow turned into an organic fruit and vegetable company who supply to Sainsbury’s. Their conversation – sometimes vicious, sometimes comic, sometimes loving – reveals a relationship composed of childhood jealousies, adolescent sexual awakening, politicised lesbianism and feminist compromise. Dowie’s crackling, looping dialogue attacks constructions of femininity, love and success in this lithe and razor-sharp play.

All Over Lovely was first performed at the Traverse Theatre in 1996.

All the Ordinary Angels

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

All The Ordinary Angels is a comedy of treats and dirty tricks in the world of ice-cream, as a family business becomes a family feud.

When ice-cream man Giuseppe Raffa decides it’s finally time to come in from the cold and retire, he sets his two sons in competition with each other. The winner will gain the family business; the loser will be left with nothing. Supported and obstructed by Rocco’s wife Bernie and Lino’s girlfriend Lulu, their fight for the hearts and money of the people quickly becomes deadly serious. It is a lively and satirical story of love, competition and selling ice-cream in rainy Manchester.

All the Ordinary Angels premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 2005.

All You Need Is LSD

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The drug laws in this country- the drug laws IN THE WORLD - all stem from this attitude that pleasure is a bad thing...

In 2015, acclaimed British playwright Leo Butler accepted an invitation from former Government drugs tsar, Professor David Nutt, to be a guinea pig in the world's first LSD medical trials since the 1960s. Monty Python, Being John Malkovich, and Alice in Wonderland all resonate in this exhilarating and original comedy as we watch Leo jump down the rabbit-hole of a medical trial in search of enlightenment - and a good story.

Along the way he meets an array of characters from Aldous Huxley and The Beatles, to Steve Jobs and Ronald Reagan, whose own stories in the history of LSD are hilariously and poignantly uncovered.
Does the world still need a psychedelic revolution? And will Leo make it back home in time for tea?

Part history, party wild fantasy, this darkly humorous new play illuminates the drugs debate that won't go away and examines the freedom we have to make our own choices in life, and death.

Alphabetical Order

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A provincial newspaper office in the 1970s – and it’s another day of chaos in the cuttings library. Files all over the floor, phones left ringing. And where is Lucy, the librarian . . . ? Her life (when she finally arrives), and the lives of the journalists who take refuge in her muddled retreat, turn out to be as confused as the library itself. Into this comfortable little world steps Lesley, Lucy’s new assistant. She’s young, bright, and she wants system and order. She wants things to change.

Writing about the play, The Times said: ‘The best of Frayn’s plays. He has found a way of writing broad comedy about ordinary and sympathetic people without resorting to artificial conflict or character distortion’.

Alphabetical Order was first produced at Hampstead Theatre on 11 March 1975 before transferring to the West End and winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy. It was revived at Hampstead Theatre on 16 April 2009.

American Beauty Shop

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

It’s hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps in this economy – Sue should know. It’s harder when you’ve got kids, even whip-smart, talented ones like Judy.

Sue has big dreams for both her basement beauty shop and her daughter, who’s anxiously waiting for a letter from MIT that could change her life.

A heartfelt play about the true cost of dreams, American Beauty Shop received its world premiere at Chicago Dramatists in May 2016, having received readings at Steppenwolf, Pegasus Theatre Chicago, Florida Studio Theatre, Steep Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival and Chicago Dramatists.

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.

Antigone (trans. Taylor)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In his Guide to Greek Theatre and Drama, Kenneth McLeish writes: “Antigone is a textbook example of how to develop one short episode from a myth-story to make a full-scale tragedy articulating universal themes and meanings… The fact that her story has had such an effect on world consciousness – she is one of the best loved characters in all Greek myth – is entirely due to the issues which Sophocles draws from the myth, and to his portrayal of Antigone herself, pulled between heroic certainty and all too human frailty.”

The story of one sister’s loyalty to both her brothers, regardless of their acts or opposing political beliefs, Antigone is one of the most consistently popular plays in the history of drama. This translation, by Don Taylor, was commissioned by the BBC, and was first broadcast in autumn, 1986.

The Argument

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Pip and Meredith have had a bust-up. It was only about their opinion of a film, but it’s led to more significant differences coming to light. Pip has been having an affair. Meredith is in total shock.

As families and friends become embroiled in Pip and Meredith’s crisis, past prejudices, harsh judgements and painful truths come to light. The arguments that ensue go far beyond just being about Pip and Meredith, and what they should do about their marriage.

In ten taut arguments, William Boyd explores what it is to dispute with those we love – and those we claim to love. He looks at our propensity to judge others and our inherent power to cause real pain. He shows how the arguments we have with one another get to the very heart and reality of our relationships.

Darkly funny in tone, The Argument offers a bitingly acute take on human dynamics. The play was first performed at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs in March 2016.

Aristo

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Aristo, based on the life of the wealthy shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, is an explosive account of how those in positions of enormous power and wealth often live lives detached from the realities and moralities of everyday existence.

After a notorious affair with the opera singer Maria Callas, Onassis married Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of the US President John F. Kennedy, in 1968. Commented on by a gossiping Greek chorus, Aristo is a portrait of the complex and sometimes dark entanglements of their families, his relationships with Jacqueline and the scorned Maria, and the tragedy of his son Alexandros. Aristo, like Onassis himself, is charming, charismatic, and inescapably sinister.

Based in part on Peter Evans’ book Nemesis, Aristo premiered at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 2008.

Armadillo

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Bullets are not sexy. They are not sexy.
Armadillo – little armoured one. [Spanish]

A teenage girl disappears from a small town in America where fifteen years earlier, another teenage girl was kidnapped. Now a woman, she watches the news. She reaches for her gun. She holds it close.

Sarah Kosar's new play is about the dangerous ways we make ourselves feel safe.

Arrah-na-Pogue

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Written in 1864 and set during the Irish rebellion of 1798, Arrah na Pogue is an rollicking tale of romance and misadventure with rascally rebels, despicable villains and love-struck youths.

As night falls on the Wicklow mountains, the popular but incorrigible rebel Beamish MacCaul is lying in wait. He’s out to ambush the cowardly rent-collector Michael Feeny and collect some rent from him in turn. That done, he’s off to marry Fanny Power. Down in the valley, love is in the air for Shaun the Post and the play’s heroine Arrah Meelish too. But Arrah has a secret, and Michael Feeny has found it out. As Shaun and Arrah celebrate their wedding, revenge comes a-calling. Now love must conquer all – including the hangman’s noose. The play is brim-full of Boucicault’s trademark comic roguery, farce and melodrama.

The Artist Man and the Mother Woman

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Geoffrey Buncher is an art teacher. Until now his only meaningful relationship has been with his mother, Edie, who doesn't want her 'wee man growing up too fast'. But when one day he reads in the newspaper that he's working in one of the top ten sexiest professions, he decides to advertise in the local papers for a wife.

Straying outside of his comfortable existence, where his mother continues to buy her middle-aged son's Ribena, Geoffrey enters a frightening world of adulthood and female companionship that he struggles to adjust to. Attraction manifests itself in warped and disturbing ways and leads to a terrifying conclusion.

Written in Morna Pearson's trademark 'lurid, post-modern Doric' (Scotsman), and with hints of Joe Orton and Harold Pinter, The Artist Man and the Mother Woman is a wickedly funny, deceptively simple, surreal portrait of a spectacularly dysfunctional relationship.

The world premiere was staged by the Traverse Theatre Company, Edinburgh on 30 October 2012, in a production directed by Orla O'Loughlin.

As the Crow Flies

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Alfie keeps hiding Beth’s gardening gloves. She’s got lots to do and it’s just not funny anymore. Why won’t he realise that gardening is helping her forget everything? Why can’t he see she’s still not over her divorce? Why can’t he just be nice? Based on a true story of a woman who struck up an unlikely friendship with a wounded crow, As the Crow Flies is a heart-warming story of friendship, healing and kindness from award-winning playwright Hattie Naylor. A funny, moving and timeless story of our endless fascination with birds As the Crow Flies was first produced by Pentabus Theatre Company in March 2017.

The Astonished Heart

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Astonished Heart is the story of a happily married psychiatrist who gradually sinks under the emotional pressure of falling passionately in love with his wife’s friend Leonora. Christian is tortured by jealousy and by his acute professional awareness of his obsession, gradually losing his control but not his fascinating articulacy.

The Astonished Heart is a short play from the Tonight at 8.30 cycle, conceived by Coward as an antidote to the boredom of a long run of the same script. It is a sequence of ten plays to be performed by the same cast in sets of three, alternating matinées and evenings, ranging from farce to melodrama to romantic comedy.

After touring, Tonight at 8.30 was produced at the Phoenix Theatre in London in 1936.

At the Inland Sea

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

At The Inland Sea is a strange, searing, dream-like play, showing a child coming face to face with humanity, and all its horror and neglect.

As a boy prepares for the first day of his exams, fussed over by his mother, he meets a woman from the past, and her baby, and the soldiers with rifles who are coming to take them away. The woman tells him about the hardness of her life, and demands a story from him, which will stop the soldiers, but the boy can’t find one that will work. Following his desperate search for a story to save them, the play is a struggle of imagination and compassion, the crux of humanity.

At The Inland Sea is subtitled a play for young people; it was written for the Big Brum Theatre-in-Education company, and was toured to schools and colleges in the West Midlands in 1995.

Baby Reindeer

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

I looked at her, wanting her to laugh. Wanting her to share in the joke. But she didn't. She just stared. I knew then, in that moment – that she had taken it literally...

Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Richard Gadd has a chilling story to tell about obsession, delusion and the terrifying ramifications of a fleeting mistake.

This powerful and engaging monologue play portrays a man brought to the edge by the actions of a chance encounter which takes a toll on all aspects of his life. In doing so it asks important questions about victims, the justice system and how one decision has the ability to change your life.

Bailegangaire

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Bailegangaire, an endless folk story told by a senile old woman is woven through her granddaughters’ arguments and struggles to free themselves from her.

Night after night, in lyrical and relentless detail, Mommo begins to relate the story of a laughing competition in Bailegangaire and how the town came by its name – ‘the town without laughter’. Of her two granddaughters, she only recognises Dolly, and not Mary who does most to look after her. The younger women yearn to be free of the past in order to make a new beginning, and Mary comes to believe that to do so the story of Bailegangaire has to be concluded.

In Mommo, Tom Murphy has created one of the greatest female characters of twentieth-century Irish literature. The play was first performed by Druid Theatre Company, Galway, in 1985.

Becky Shaw

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Becky Shaw is an amusing and cleverly constructed comedy about ambition, the cost of being truthful and the perils of a blind date. The fast and funny dialogue navigates between five distinctively perverse and disingenuously dysfunctional characters.

From the moment that Becky arrives overdressed for her blind date with straight-talking Max, it is clear the evening won't go to plan. In the immediate fallout, Becky becomes an object of devotion for her boss Andrew, who appears to have a taste for vulnerable women. In turn Andrew's wife Suzanna turns to her step-brother Max for comfort, and their mutual desire begins to resurface.

Gina Gionfriddo's masterful play is a biting American comedy with sharp, witty dialogue and a carefully crafted story arc. Character-driven, Becky Shaw is a comic tale of tangled love lives and a subtle but acerbic comedy of manners. It was first staged at the Almeida Theatre in 2011.

Before

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Some folk are impossible to buy for. Mama said it's because they are usually the ones who are impossible to know…

Before is set in Clerys of Dublin, on the very day this iconic department store shuts - for good. Pontius is inside, trying to choose a gift for his estranged daughter, whom he hasn't seen for almost 20 years. He will meet her in an hour.

This father's journey is both beautiful and strange, from the isolation of his Midlands home to the madness of O'Connell Street.

Before is a new play with much music, which follows the runaway international success of Fishamble's Pat Kinevane Trilogy (Forgotten, Silent and Underneath), which have won Olivier, Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Angel, Argus Angel, Adelaide Fringe and Stage Raw LA awards.

Beginning  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

You didn't fancy it then?
Fancy what?
Getting in the taxi.
No.

Every story starts somewhere.

It’s the early hours of the morning and Danny’s the last straggler at Laura’s party. The flat’s in a mess. And so are they. One more drink?

David Eldridge (Market Boy, The Knot of the Heart, In Basildon) returns to the National Theatre with a sharp and astute two-hander that takes an intimate look at the first fragile moments of risking your heart and taking a chance.

This tender and funny play received its world premiere at the National's Dorfman Theatre in October 2017. 

Belong

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Election lost, speeches made and controversy stirred – Kayode’s hiding. He’s not even answering the door to the cleaner and Rita is not going to start getting out the Hoover in her designer heels. Escaping the political heat in London he flees to Nigeria – a British MP and a self-made man. Once there, he gets caught up in a whole new power game. Bola Agbaje’s satirical play questions our notion of home.

Belong was originally produced by the Royal Court and Tiata Fahodzi at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court in April 2012 before transferring to Theatre Local, Peckham.

Best Man

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

High-flying real estate agent Kay Keane isn’t just earning a living for her family, she’s making a killing. Meanwhile, her husband and would-be novelist, Alan, is staked out at home, minding their children and earning ‘pin money’ by writing best man speeches. Juggling the modern-day demands of job and family is not easy, but this sparring pair seem to have arrived at a win-win situation. That is until Marta moves in. Hired to take care of their children so that Alan can finally write his novel, this sexy, straight-talking Bolivian nanny brings buried tensions to the fore. As Kay stingingly observes, soon the entire house is ‘smoking with lust for Nanny’.

Best Man is a devastatingly funny play about family wars and the wreckage caused when estranged parents compete for the spoils of property – and children . . .

Best Man premiered at The Everyman, Cork on 21 June 2013 and was performed at The Everyman from 21 to 29 June 2013 as part of Cork Midsummer Festival before transferring to Project Arts Centre, Dublin from 16 to 27 July 2013.

B for Baby

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

B for Baby is a tender, sharp-witted play set in a residential care home for people with severe learning disabilities. Treating this taboo subject with humanity and humour, the play's acute and compassionate portraits result in a moving, if at times uncomfortable, drama.

Mrs C wants a baby not a Christmas tree. B wants a real hairdresser's scissors and a wife. D wants a snow globe and to have curly hair. All of them want their own place in the world. And if they can't find it, they'll create one of their own. The play follows B and D, and Mrs C their carer, on their journey towards happiness.

Poignantly exploring forbidden topics, B for Baby invites the reader or audience to rediscover the power and joy of make-believe. The play was first presented by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in 2010.

Billy Wonderful

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A play about fathers, sons and football, Billy Wonderful is a fast-paced coming-of-age play pulsing with all the excitement and physicality of match-day.

As one-time boy wonder Billy Walters relives his debut in a Merseyside derby at the age of nineteen, ninety minutes cut across twenty-two years and fellow players become family and friends, enemies and lovers. Both Billy and the play are consumed by football: match commentators hover over his life, and fans shout their chants over the scenes. Billy flickers between an eager and hopeful child, self-satisfied young man convinced he is at the top of his game, and a slightly older but disillusioned drifter, desperate not to miss out on his dream and end up like his father.

Billy Wonderful is a captivating story of fame and fortune, disappointment and family. The play premiered at the Liverpool Everyman in 2009.

Black Jesus

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Zimbabwe. 2015. The Mugabe Government has fallen and investigations into its abuses have begun. Eunice Ncube, working for the new Truth and Justice Commission, begins the interviewing of Gabriel Chibamu, one of the most infamous perpetrators of the horrors of the Mugabe regime. As Gabriel's trial and inevitable prosecution approach, Eunice begins to sift through the past – only to find that right and wrong, and guilt and innocence, are far less clear than she first thought . . .

This stunning play by Finborough Theatre Playwright-in-Residence, and one of the UK's leading political playwrights, Anders Lustgarten, is more urgent than ever. Black Jesus unpicks the political complexities of Zimbabwe through the devastating personal journeys of two very different people, both scarred by one of Africa's most notorious dictatorships.

Black Jesus was first read at the Finborough Theatre as a staged reading as part of Vibrant 2012 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights: Saturday, 23 July 2011, before its first full performance at the Finborough Theatre on Tuesday, 1 October 2013.

Black Mountain  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Rebecca and Paul are running away. Away from memories and mistakes.

They're trying to save their relationship. They need time and space. An isolated house in the country is the perfect place to work things out. They set themselves rules: they have to be honest, they have to listen and they have to be fair.

But you can't run forever. Especially when you're being followed.

Black Mountain
is a tense psychological thriller about betrayal and forgiveness by winner of the Harold Pinter Commission Brad Birch.

A Paines Plough, Theatr Clwyd and Orange Tree Theatre production, Black Mountain was first performed at Theatre Clwyd, Mold, in July 2017. 

Blackout

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Anderson's note on the play tells us that 'Blackout is based on a true story. It was told to me by a young man called Peter over several cups of tea.

'When I spoke to him, Peter was serving a probation sentence for attempted murder. He committed the crime when he was fifteen years old and was lucky not to be in jail. I didn't really know what to expect before I met him, but Peter wasn't at all what I expected. He was funny, articulate, thoughtful, passionate, a bit cheeky. More than anything he had this burning desire to communicate. So I took his words and turned them into a short monologue. Then I gave him a copy to take home. He said he was going to read it carefully and come back to me with corrections. Next time I saw him, he told me he'd read the text out loud to his mum and that she'd cried. He also told me I got the name of his sword wrong.'

Blackout is the true story of a 15-year-old boy charged with attempted murder who tries to piece together the events in his life that have brought him into a secure care unit and threaten to keep him there. This short play packs a big emotional punch with its stylistic economy and razor-sharp storytelling.

Commissioned by the Royal National Theatre for NT Connections it was originally performed in the Cottesloe Theatre in July 2008. ThickSkin's production of the play won the Arches Brick Award, 2010, at the Edinburgh Festival before embarking on a tour of the UK.

Blackta

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Welcome to the world's most unusual talent contest. Behind the scenes, competitors are laughing and brawling, parading their hopes and fears in front of each other, their loves and losses. But there's a bigger fight to be had on stage: who's going to win? The black, the yellow or the brown guy?

This hilariously biting satire by Nathaniel Martello-White exposes the highs and lows of making it as a black actor - a 'blackta'.

Of the play, the Stage wrote ‘Nathaniel Martello-White’s debut play is concerned with more than just the various hurdles faced by black actors; it also encompasses broader themes of race, identity and masculinity. The play rattles along, a little bit like Beckett on amphetamines, presenting a frantic hamster wheel world in which its characters - named for their skin tone: black, brown, yellow - are forever being tested...The play has a lot to say and for much of the time it does so with humour and verve’.

The first production of Blackta opened in the Maria at the Young Vic on 26 October 2012.

The Blue Ball

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Blue Ball is a strange and melodic play, an attempt to comprehend the experience of space travel.

Paul Godfrey used a travel grant from the National Theatre to visit centres of space travel in America and Russia to research The Blue Ball. His conversations with astronauts inspired the play and are partly replicated within it, as the play weaves his interviews into the story of a fictional first man in space.

It is an imaginative investigation of a culture in which the wondrous is rendered mundane, what seems commonplace is rendered absurd, and no-one ever stops asking, ‘What is it like?’ Godfrey explores the myths surrounding astronauts, and the impossibility of describing space, in scenes alive with irony and sharp comedy, creating a play which is both delicate and vastly ambitious.

The Blue Ball premiered at the Cottesloe Theatre in 1995.

Blue Murder

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Blue Murder is a two-part farce, energetic and impossibly self-referential, in which conservative suburbia and Whitehall collide with murders, porn stars and blackmailers, and a playwright trying to keep up with them all.

Subtitled ‘a play or two’, Blue Murder opens with ‘Foreign Bodies’ where swinging London meets bourgeois Shrewsbury and the drinks are laced with cyanide. As the son of the household struggles to write his first play, a murder story is offered to him on a plate. The second half, ‘A Game of Soldiers’, is a Whitehall farce taking place in St James's Palace. The same dramatist has brought his complete play to be censored but the Lord Chamberlain's Men have a few shameful secrets of their own to hide, including a priapic guardsman. Once the actors start to have tantrums about the size of their parts, the whole ridiculous structure begins to tumble.

Nichol’s play was first presented in 1995 at the Quakers Friars, Bristol.

Bondagers

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Scotland during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, male farm labourers who hired on to work on farms would be required under the terms of their bond to provide a female labourer to work in tandem with them: the women who worked under these terms – primarily in the Border countryside in south-east Scotland – were known as Bondagers.

Sue Glover's play from 1991, set on a typical farm in the 1860s, tells the story of Tottie, a Bondager girl, who falls in love with a 'black-eyed plooman' named Kello, an unseen presence who haunts the fringes of this play.

In her author's note, Glover writes: '[ . . . ] periods of plenty and progress are relentlessly interrupted by leaner, harsher times: bad weather, bad harvests, bad government, disease . . . and the sometimes unfortunate, sometimes devastating consequences of our innovations and discoveries. And so the ghosts in the field come and go. Tottie sees this; she stands for the land. And Kello stands for our (sometimes criminal) carelessness.'

Bondagers, which won the 1990 LWT Plays on Stage Award, draws out the shadowy figures of women exploited as cheap agricultural labour in the Border country of the mid-nineteenth century, evoking the rich sounds of a way of life, lived in service to the gentry.

Bones

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In a rundown porn cinema in 1960s Gateshead, two Jewish brothers are at war with each other. Their business is on the verge of bankruptcy and they owe a shedload of money to a local gangster. But all their problems seem to be over when one of them kidnaps Reggie Kray . . .

Sharp, uncompromising and witty, Bones is a deliciously dark comedy about family ties, gangland warfare and a man in a dress.

Bones premiered at Live Theatre, Newcastle in 1999.

Boy

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In this vivid and troubled story of an isolated young man, playwright Leo Butler casts a sharp eye over the city and picks someone for us to follow.

A bleak portrait of modern London and a scathing critique of the economic forces that destroy communities and promote isolation, Boy provoked considerable debate upon its first production. Michael Billington wrote in the Guardian that “there are distinct echoes of Georg Büchner’s fragmented drama Woyzeck in the portrayal of the hero as a victim of social circumstance”, while writing in the Telegraph Laura Shilling observed that “its power to disturb is all the more troubling because it offers neither accusation nor redemption. You find yourself wondering about the morality of turning hopelessness into a beautifully crafted theatrical experience. But what would be a more virtuous alternative?"

Boy received its world premiere at the Almeida Theatre, London, on 5 April 2016.

The Boy on the Swing

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

If you found God’s number on a business card, would you call it? For Earl, the answer is yes. Seeking answers, he dials the number, hoping to reach a divine being. Instead, he discovers something altogether too familiar – bureaucracy. Before he sees God, there are countless hoops to jump through and forms to fill out, all pushed on him by inoffensive middlemen. Will he find God at the end of the tunnel?

Joe Harbot’s The Boy on the Swing premiered at the Arcola Theatre, London, in 2011. Witty dialogue and cleverly plotted absurdity drive this unexpected journey into the nature of the divine and the mundane.

Brief Encounter

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Your heart dances. The world seems strange and new. You want to laugh and skip and fall forever… You are in love. You are in love with the wrong person. Laura, the respectable suburban wife, and Alec, the idealistic, married doctor, meet in a station buffet, fall passionately in love but are doomed never to find fulfilment.

David Lean's iconic 1945 movie, Brief Encounter, was written by Noël Coward and was based on one of his one-act plays, Still Life, written a decade earlier. This version for the stage was adapted by Emma Rice, Artistic Director of Kneehigh Theatre Company, bringing this timeless tale of joy and heartache into the theatre. Also included within the romantic action are nine songs originally written by Coward.

Kneehigh’s production Brief Encounter was first presented by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Cineworld at the Cinema Haymarket on 2 February 2008.

Build a Rocket

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

"This isn't the story of Icarus and Daedalus.
It's Yasmin and Jack.
And we won't fly too close to the sun.
We'll fly through the f***er."

Yasmin is young and feisty and lives on the edge. A young mum, her Scarborough isn't sandcastles, arcades and donkey rides. She's been dealt a rough hand and has to decide whether to give in or get smart.
But can the thing which threatens to ruin her life be the one thing which saves her? Can she still be the architect of her own destiny?

An explosive and passionate portrait of a young heroine of our times.

Burning Monkey

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Burning Monkey relates the story of a teenage couple and their interactions with an older war veteran, trying to rebuild his fractured relationship with his daughter. While their exchanges initially show a hostile and unsympathetic clash of generations, it soon becomes apparent that they share similar pain – based on their damaged family relationships, and absent parents/children – and they begin to feel empathy for one another’s plight.

In the background, the presence of war looms; the character of Old is haunted by memories of his time as a soldier and the character of Monkey looks forward to a time when he can escape the depressing realities of his life and join the army. In the midst of this, Shell is fifteen, madly in love with Monkey, and pregnant with his child. Her attempts to try and make the irresponsible, immature Monkey stay with her become increasingly desperate.

Burning Monkey is a play that raises important issues for teenagers, addressing themes such as war, violence, separated families and responsibility. It is available both in English- and Welsh-language versions, the latter titled as Mwnci ar dân.

Caledonia

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

William Paterson was a financial adventurer who devised one of the most daring and disastrous speculations of all time. His plan: to found a Scottish colony on Darien in Central America and turn Scotland, one of the poorest nations in Europe, into a colonial power. He invited the public to invest. And they did – in a big way. Within weeks a vast proportion of the nation’s wealth had been subscribed.

The plan went wrong though, and badly so, so that, within a few years, the Scots – demoralised and impoverished – were forced to give up their nation’s independent status and sign the 1707 Treaty of Union with England.

Inspired by documents, journals, letters, songs and poems of the period, Caledonia is both a tribute to heroic ambition and a darkly witty take on the deceptions and self-deceptions of rich and poor alike. It was first performed at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, on 21st August 2010, in a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and the Edinburgh International Festival.

Canary

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In 1960s Liverpool Tom and Billy hide their love in the closet, then go their separate ways. As pits close and the dole queues grow, Mickey and Russell escape to find Heaven in 1980s London. But today the paparazzi turn judge and jury over a love story that could tear this family apart. Then a grieving mother gets lost up a mountain, with a vicar for some dubious consolation.

A deeply moving, funny, uplifting and often magical story about love, honesty and being brave enough to sing out at the top of your voice. With style.

Canary premiered at the Liverpool Playhouse on 23 April 2010 in a production by Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, English Touring Theatre and Hampstead Theatre.

The Cane

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

It will be the biggest send off any teacher has ever had. No teacher is as loved.

After 45 years as a dedicated teacher, Edward is looking forward to the imminent celebration to mark his retirement.
But his home is under siege. A mob of angry students have gathered. A brick has been thrown through the window, he and his wife haven't left the house for six days, and now his estranged daughter has arrived with her own questions.

Why would they attack the most popular teacher in the school?

The Cane explores power, control, identity and gender as well as considering the major failure of the echo-chamber of liberalism.

Cannibals

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

When Lizaveta’s simple farm life is smashed apart, she has to run. Her quest to start again leads her through mud and blood, past holy fools and icon painters, to things she has never even imagined.

From a war-torn ex-Soviet state to the streets of Manchester, this bold and gripping play questions death, love and consumerism in the twenty-first century.

Of the play, the Guardian wrote ‘Cannibals is not an easy play to watch, or even a particularly easy play to like. But it could be one of the most provocative, original and disturbing debuts since Blasted.’

Cannibals is Manchester playwright Rory Mullarkey’s first play. It premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, on 3 April 2013. It went on to win the Harold Pinter Playwriting award and the James Tait Black Prize for Drama, both awarded in 2014.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle (trans. McGuinness)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Written in exile in the United States during the Second World War The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a politically charged, much-revived and complex example of Brecht’s epic theatre.

In a prologue set in Soviet Georgia, a narrator-figure called The Singer introduces the story of choice and sacrifice. The servant girl Grusha sacrifices everything she has to look after an abandoned child, even marrying a dying peasant in order to provide for him. But when the boy’s biological mother attempts to reclaim him, the unruly judge Azdak, one of Brecht’s most vivid creations, calls on the ancient tradition of the chalk circle to resolve the dispute. Brecht subverts an ancient Chinese story (echoed in the Judgement of Solomon) into a parable advocating that resources should go to those best able to make use of them.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle was first performed in 1948 by students at Northfield, Minnesota in Eric and Maja Bentley’s translation, and has since become one of his most popular works. A morality masterpiece, the play powerfully demonstrates Brecht's pioneering theatrical techniques.

This version by Frank McGuinness was published to coincide with the National Theatre's production which toured the UK in 2007.

Chair

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Chair is the third play in Edward Bond's The Chair Plays trilogy. In it, Alice is looking after Billy, a young man she took in to her home – illegally – when he was a baby.

One day, when she witnesses a soldier escorting an old woman, someone Alice believes she knows, to prison, she offers a kindness: the soldier has been waiting with his prisoner for over three hours; Alice offers him chair to sit on. This basic, human gesture explodes the secure and private world that Alice had built to protect herself and Billy.

In his introduction, Edward Bond writes: 'Billy cannot be Alice's son but she must be the prisoner's daughter. This is because in the first play the image of the dress confronts the present with the past that all people share in common. When this confrontation is repeated in Chair it is not shared; it is absolutely restricted to one person and the present . . . Saved ends in a gesture of optimism in the mending of the chair. It is not grandiose to call that an act of immanent transcendence because the chair bears human wounds. Since the play was written our situation – the third crisis – has worsened. The chair in The Chair Plays is the sign of that crisis.'

Chair was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 7 April 2000. Its first staged production was seen at the Avignon Festival in July 2006.

Charolais

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A dark comedy of love, longing and an intense rivalry with a Charolais cow. Siobhán is forced to share the affections of her farmer boyfriend with his beloved, prize-winning French heifer. Overcome with desire, Siobhán develops a homicidal jealousy for this cow, while feeling equally murderous towards her snobbish, soon-to-be mother in law.

Chef

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Chef tells the gripping story of how one woman went from being a haute-cuisine head chef to a convicted inmate running a prison kitchen. Leading us through her world of mouth-watering dishes and heart-breaking memories, Chef questions our attitudes to food, prisoners, violence, love and hope. Inspired by an interview the playwright, Sabrina Mahfouz, conducted with celebrity chef Ollie Dabbous, Chef studies food as the ultimate art form taking stimulus from Dabbous’s obsession with simplicity and making something the best it can be.

Featuring Sabrina Mahfouz’s distinct, lyrical style in abundance, Chef received its premiere at the Underbelly, Cowgate, during the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, winning a Fringe First, and was subsequently produced at the Soho Theatre, London, in June 2015.

The Cherry Orchard (adapt. Murphy)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Chekhov’s tragicomedy of inertia and loss – perhaps his most popular play – an aristocratic family cling to their sheltered lives in a picturesque estate while the forces of social change beat on the walls outside.

Completely bankrupt, Lyubov Ranyevskaya returns with her daughter Anya from Paris to her childhood home, to the beautiful cherry orchard outside the house and to her grief. The estate is paralysed by debt, but she and her billiard-playing brother refuse to save their finances by having the vast orchard cut down to build holiday cottages. Hopelessly paralysed, incapable of decisive action, they put the estate up for auction, and find their world is brought crashing down by powerful forces rooted deep in history and in the society around them

Chekhov maintained that the play was a cheerful and frivolous comedy, but audiences have found its tragedy irresistible. The comedy is poignant; the tone is ambiguous, both farcical and piercing. While remaining faithful to the original, Tom Murphy’s adaptation reimagines the events of this classic play in a language that resonates with wit, clarity and verve. It was first performed in 2004 at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

An exuberant and sweeping ‘Ceilidh Play with Scenes, Songs and Music of Highland History’ which tells the continuing story of the exploitation of the Scottish Highlands.

McGrath’s winding, furious, innovative play begins with the story of the Clearances: in the nineteenth century, aristocratic landowners discovered the profitability of sheep farming, and forced a mass emigration of rural Highlanders, burning their houses in order to make way for the Cheviot sheep. The play follows the thread of capitalist and repressive exploitation through the estates of the stag-hunting landed gentry, to the most recent rush for profit in the name of North Sea Oil. It is a passionate history told through ballads, Gaelic songs, poetry, comic sketches and tragic stories of resistance.

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil was first performed in 1973 at the ‘What Kind of Scotland’ conference in Edinburgh, then toured throughout Scotland before being televised.

Chicken Soup with Barley

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

This landmark state-of-the-nation play is a panoramic drama portraying the age-old battle between realism and idealism.

The kettle boils in 1936 as the fascists are marching. Tea is brewed in 1946, with disillusion in the air at the end of the war. In 1956, as rumours spread of Hungarian revolution, the cup is empty. Sarah Khan, an East End Jewish mother, is a feisty political fighter and a staunch communist. Battling against the State and her shirking husband, she desperately tries to keep her family together. Chicken Soup with Barley captures the collapse of an ideology alongside the disintegration of a family.

The play, the first in a trilogy with Roots and I'm Talking about Jerusalem, was first performed at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry in 1958.

Child of the Divide  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

I have a boy. He is across the border, I know he is.
A few miles between. The same stars

Shine on him

Summer 1947. Sixteen million people are on the move between India and the newly-formed Pakistan. Amid the violent political upheaval, young Pali’s fingers slip from his father’s hand, and his destiny changes forever.

Lost, dispossessed and alone, Pali is saved by a Muslim family. The boy is given a new home and new family, a new name, a new faith and a new life. But seven years later, his real father returns to claim him and Pali’s life is turned upside down again. He is forced to decide who he is: the Hindu boy he was born to be, the Muslim boy he has become, or simply a child of the divide.

This edition has been published to mark the 70th anniversary of the partition of India and a new high-profile production originating once again at the Polka Theatre. Sudha Bhuchar’s remarkable story of family, identity and belonging set against a fractured landscape is a fictionalised account of real experiences, of families torn apart and of stolen pasts, where friendship and love are found in unexpected places.

The Children (Bond)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A disturbed mother sends her son, Joe, to burn down a house in an adjacent estate. Manipulating him until he agrees, she abandons him to his fate once he has completed this task. Worse still, the house was not as empty as he thought when he set it alight.

Fleeing from the law, his friends join him on a journey though an increasingly barren and often violent landscape. Despite the difficulty of their situation and the continuing fragmentation of their community, they nonetheless find the spirit and energy to be compassionate to others – particularly a tramp who cannot walk. But the question remains; how will this compassion be rewarded?

The Children was first presented by Classworks Theatre on 11 February 2000 at Manor Community College, Cambridge. The parts of the children were played by pupils from the college. It went on to tour to seventeen venues; in each new venue a different cast of young people played, with only the actors playing Mum and Man remaining constant throughout the tour.

Christie in Love

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Christie in Love is a distressing investigation into the mind of the infamous serial killer, John Reginald Halliday Christie, who strangled eight women in his flat in Notting Hill in the 1940s and ’50s. It is part of Brenton’s group of ‘Plays for the Poor Theatre’ – plays with minimal theatrical requirements and small casts, but fierce intensity.

In 1953 the police found the bodies of six women concealed in Christie’s house, including his wife. Christie was hanged for their murders, and found subsequently to have committed two others, crimes for which another man was hanged.

The first scene of Brenton’s play opens on a police constable digging for bones in his backyard and reciting obscene limericks. He is joined by a police inspector who tells an obscene joke and warns the constable not to dwell on Christie’s perversions. The play then resurrects and interrogates Christie, turning his mind inside out and refusing the spectator any palliative measure or escape. It is a naturalistic portrait in a bleak and surreal frame.

Christie in Love was first performed in 1969 by The Portable Theatre at Oval House, London.

Clean

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Zainab, Chloe & Katya, London’s best ‘clean’ criminals and perpetrators of victimless crime, are forced together in an unlikely trio. This feisty trio soon become the unlikely action heroes of an adventure left to men. A short play commissioned by the Traverse Theatre, 2012, Clean was part of the A Play, A Pie & A Pint Season at Òran Mor, Glasgow and The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.

Sabrina Mahfouz’s Clean was originally published in a volume of three plays called The Clean Collection, alongside Dry Ice and One Hour Only . The volume also contained a selection of poetry by the playwright.

Clockwork

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Old friends Carl and Mikey must say their farewells this evening as Mikey makes plans to leave the care home that has become their new stomping ground. Troll Face just wants to keep things running to time and Etienne is forced to see out his community service with two old geezers scrounging for fags.

Shut away from a world where pensioners steal in order to feed themselves and dreaming of a youth spent in the dingy corner of a seedy club, two lifelong friends are forced to say their goodbyes. When memory is fading and the past is clouded with a lifetime of drink and drugs, what is true and how to live are called into question.

Laura Poliakoff’s debut play is a powerful call-to-arms for a generation of twenty-year-olds not considering their own old age. How we care for our elderly, where we put them and the sacrifices that are made fuel this often comic yet touching play. Clockwork was first presented at the sixth HighTide Festival in Suffolk on 4 May 2012

Clubland

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Clubland is a south London drama of sexual politics, which confronts pressing questions of race, cultural identity and the roles in which society casts young men and women.

Although Ben is married to Denise he's still on the pull, Kenny's looking for someone who's "right", Ade's with Sandra but playing the field, and Nate's a proud new father. The play follows this group of young men and women in and out of the clubs, as they discuss each other's lives, who has slept with whom and whether black or white people are better in bed.

With shrewd insight and a sharp ear for dialogue, Williams examines the mechanisms of race, discrimination and sexual stereotypes, and the power they have over people’s lives.

Clubland premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in 2001.

Come to Where I'm From

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Theatre company Paines Plough’s Come To Where I’m From programme offers a theatrical tapestry of the UK, woven by writers asking if home really is where the heart is. Since 2010, 88 playwrights from across the UK have returned to their home towns to write plays about the places that shaped them. Here, Zodwa Nyoni’s 2013 monologue for the series represents a meditation on place, belonging and the author’s Zimbabwean roots.

Common

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Common is a dark and disturbing journey into the carnivalesque world of early-Industrial Britain, exploring the personal and public traumas in the period of the enclosure. Written with verve and wit by Olivier Award-nominated and Writers' Guild Award-winning playwright DC Moore, it tells the story of Mary, a woman who has returned to the village of her birth after years of grifting a living on the edge of respectable London society. She is there to confront old enemies and rekindle a former love.

But there’s trouble in the air as the local Lord struggles to extend the reach of his power by reclaiming the common-land as his personal fiefdom. Will Mary be able to win over those she lost before? Or will the violence of the time seep over into even the purest of missions?
Common is an epic, funny and uncanny history play which examines the period of the enclosure, asking what does community mean and if there can ever be resolution in the intractable battle between individual desires and the common good.

Confidence  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

If you're not interested in earning a new pair of Nikes by the end of the day…complete designer wardrobe by the end of the week…all the beers you can drink…if you don't want to meet Uma Thurman…then okay, stay here, as King of the Slackers, that's fine by me.

As another summer season on the seafront gets underway Ella is turning up the heat in a high stakes game to get as far away as possible. Whilst Ruby keeps the café going and Dean mans the ice cream kiosk Ella learns there's no fast track to success.

Judy Upton's coming of age drama first exploded onto the stage in 1998 at the Birmingham Rep. This new edition has been published to coincide with Boundless Theatre's twentieth anniversary revival at the Southwark Playhouse in May 2018. 

Conservatory

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

An elderly couple sit in a dark room in their house, doing the crossword, taking their tablets and knitting, all the while raking over a traumatic past that has all but destroyed them.

Conservatory is a compelling play about loss and family which shows that happiness is not a necessary condition of togetherness. It premiered at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in March 2014.

The Coronation of Poppea

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Coronation of Poppea, freely adapted from the libretto by Giovanni Francesco Busenello for L'incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi, depicts the triumphant adultery between Poppea and the Roman emperor Nero. Ravenhill updates Tacitus’s scathing portrayal of imperial degeneracy with language which is contemporary, spare and brutally powerful.

This version of the The Coronation of Poppea opened at the King’s Head theatre, Islington, in April 2011, in a production directed by the author.

Country Music

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Country Music is a dramatic play about love, crime and possibly redemption, with a purity of structure that gives it great emotional force.

The play dips in and out of the life of Jamie Carris over twenty years, showing him meeting with his girlfriend, his half-brother and his daughter. It is also the story of his crime – his flight, his time in prison and his attempt to find his way in the world once he is released. Jamie commits a crime, an act of vengeance which is the terrible pivot of the play’s action, but Stephens focuses not on his violence but on his relationships and his humanity.

Stephens was inspired to write the play after leading theatre workshops in prisons, and his delicacy and empathy are visible in this simple and immensely powerful play.

Country Music premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in 2004.

The Culture - A Farce in Two Acts  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

January 2018, and a busy day at the offices of Hull 2017. Today is the ceremonial handover to ambassadors from the next UK City of Culture. Meanwhile, the monitoring and evaluation team have to present The Audit – a measurement of the impact 'the culture' has had on the city. Can their logic models, outcome evaluations and statistical analyses really measure its impact on the people of Hull? The visiting Minister from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport certainly expect so.
What could go wrong…?
Only, perhaps, Dennis, an average citizen who arrives into the offices of Hull 2017 on lowgate to register a complaint but accidentally finds himself at the centre of events that could bring the whole thing to its knees
The Culture is a satirical farce in two acts, examining the 'culture' of culture, and the inner workings of the Hull 2017 project. 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Fifteen year-old Christopher has a mystery to solve. Someone has killed the next-door neighbour’s dog with a garden fork and Christopher is a suspect. Determined to discover who killed Wellington and going against his father’s wishes, Christopher begins an investigation into the dog’s murder, asking questions, and recording his findings in a book. Though he has never previously ventured alone beyond the end of his street, Christopher’s detective work ends up taking him on a frightening journey that tears apart his once-familiar world.

Simon Stephens’s adaptation of Mark Haddon’s award-winning novel offers a richly theatrical exploration of this touching and bleakly humorous story.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was originally produced in the Cottesloe at the National Theatre, London, on 24 July 2012. Phenomenally successful, it transferred to the West End, garnering great commercial success and critical acclaim, including a record-equalling seven Olivier awards.

Cyprus Avenue

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Eric Miller is a Belfast Loyalist. He believes his five-week old granddaughter is Gerry Adams, the noted Irish Republican politician who is the president of Sinn Féin.

Eric’s family keep telling him to stop living in the past and fighting old battles that nobody cares about anymore, but his cultural heritage is under siege. He must act.

David Ireland’s black comedy takes one man’s identity crisis to the limits as he uncovers the modern day complexity of Ulster Loyalism.

Cyprus Avenue was first performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, on 11 February 2016, before transferring to the Royal Court Theatre, London, in April 2016.

Danton's Death

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Danton’s Death is a thundering dramatization of the most extraordinary scenes of the French Revolution, of eloquence and execution.

In 1794, the Revolution was reaching its climax. After a series of bloody purges the life-loving, volatile Danton is tormented by his part in the killing. His political rival, the driven and ascetic Robespierre, decides Danton's fate. A titanic struggle begins. Once friends who wanted to change the world together, now these two men stand against each other, one for compromise and the other for ideological purity, as the guillotine awaits.

A revolutionary himself, George Büchner was 21 when he wrote the play in 1835, while hiding from the police. With a hair-raising on-rush of scenes and vivid dramatisation of complex, visionary characters, Danton’s Death has a claim to be one of the greatest political tragedies ever written.

In this translation, Howard Brenton captures Büchner's exhilarating energy as Danton struggles to avoid his inexorable fall. This version of Danton’s Death premiered at the National Theatre in 2010.

A Day At The Racists

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A Day at the Racists is a brave piece of political theatre. It both attempts to understand why people might be drawn to the BNP and diagnoses a deeper cause of that attraction: the political abandonment and betrayal of the working class by New Labour.

Pete Case used to be a leading Labour Party organiser in the local car factories. Now he struggles to get by as a decorator as immigrant workers undercut his best mate's firm; his son Mark can't get a job or onto the housing list; and nobody, from his Labour MP to his granddaughter's teacher, seems to care. Then Pete finds unexpected hope: Gina is young, mixed race and standing for Parliament on a platform of helping the local community. She is standing for the British National Party. As Pete's rage and despair gradually overcome his longstanding loathing of the BNP, he is drawn into the world of Gina's campaign and finds himself entangled in a nightmare of political machinations that pit his closest relationships – son, best mate, lover – against his longest-held beliefs and newfound aims. The play’s timely premiere was at the Finborough Theatre in 2010.

Days of Significance

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Days of Significance was written in response to Much Ado About Nothing, and follows the love lives and mortal fears of young soldiers departing their English market-towns for the deserts of Iraq.

The first act sees two young soldiers join their friends to stumble, drink and brawl before they leave for active service; the play buzzes with the coarse jokes, insults and confrontations of a night out, though there’s a nervous spark of true romance buried in the teasing confrontation. The second act sees the soldiers transferred to Iraq, where they are morally out of their depth, and fighting in a war they don’t understand.

Williams's play, which premiered at the Swan Theatre in 2007, looks at how the naive and malformed moral codes of these young men have catastrophic reverberations for the West’s moral authority.

Dea

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The war is raging, Dea, a heroine, has committed a terrible act and has been exiled. When she meets someone from her past, she is forcefully confronted by the broken society that drove her to commit her crimes. Edward Bond takes from the Greek and Jacobean drama the fundamental classical problems of the family and war to vividly picture our collapsing society.

Death and Dancing

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In a spiky, angry duologue between ‘She’ and ‘He’, Dowie interrogates the labels with which society constricts everyone – gay, lesbian, straight, man, woman.

‘He’ has come over from America to study at a London University, and is out and proud, but he might fancy ‘She’ a bit. Particularly when ‘She’ is wearing a leather jacket, and making him wear a dress, because ‘She’ is determined to be anything she wanted to be, and wants to show him that you don’t have to be feminine or be masculine or wear a costume or buy a suit. Death and Dancing is about two people going dancing and the social categories of sexuality which try to pin them down.

Death and Dancing was first presented in 1992 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Decades

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Modern life isn't easy and it never has been.

This explosive play by Leo Butler transports us through time, looking at what happens when the next generation begin to find their feet in an ever-changing world.

Through a kaleidoscope of characters, we see tensions rocket and values crumble, exposing the best and worst of what it means to be human.

This epic roller coaster of a play combines euphoria and despair as different generations of young people ask the same question: where do we go from here?

Decades received its world premiere at Ovalhouse, London, on 7 June 2016, in a production by Brit School for Performing Arts and Technology.

Designs for Living

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Terese and Louise are on their way to a 'pot-pourri' party: a place where, Terese assures Louise, there will be straight people to talk to. Louise is tired of hanging out with Terese's lesbian-only crowd, and is not expecting much. So when she meets the handsome J.J. she gets more, perhaps, than she'd bargained for.

An examination of the roles that gender and sexuality play in the already complex world of love among friends, Designs for Living was first produced at the Drill Hall, London.

Desolate Heaven

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Sive (12) and Orlaith (13) are two young girls responsible for the care of their respective parents. When these duties of care prove too strong for the two, Orlaith offers to take Sive away – away from the city, from her house and from her responsibilities; Sive can't help but agree. This decision sets the pair off on a journey during which their reclaimed youth is forced up against new responsibilities and burdens whose escape routes are not so clear as before.

Desolate Heaven is a story of two young girls burdened with unnatural responsibilities. It is a story of falling in love for the first time and a story about running away. It is a story about growing up too soon and about why love can sometimes be dangerous.

The play received its world premiere at Theatre503, London, on 5 February 2013, in a production directed by Paul Robinson.

Di and Viv and Rose

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Aged 18, three women join forces. Life is fun. Living is intense. Together they feel unassailable. Di and Viv and Rose charts the steady but sometimes chaotic progression of these three women's lives and their ultimately enduring bonds. The varied journeys of their lives take their toll on the characters, forcing them apart and stretching their relationships with each other to a near breaking point.

Crackling with wisdom and wit, Di and Viv and Rose is a humorous and thoughtful exploration of friendship's impact on life and life's impact on friendship.

Described by Michael Billington of the Guardian as 'impossible not to like', Di and Viv and Rose premiered in the Hampstead Theatre's downstairs space in 2011, before a revival in its main theatre in 2013.

Diary of a Madman

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Pop Sheeran, proudly shouldering the family trade of restoring the Forth Bridge, is about to lose it all. A global corporation has bought this Scottish icon, bringing with them innovative new paint. How will Pop fight back when he realises he’s painting himself out of a job?

Diary of a Madman is a sharply political, witty new adaptation of Gogol’s classic story, reimagined in a contemporary Scotland on the brink of voting for independence. The play received its world premiere at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, on 5 August 2016 before opening at the Gate Theatre, London, in September 2016.

Dirty Great Love Story

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Two hopeful, hapless romantics get drunk, get it on and then get the hell away from each other. In her eyes, he’s a mistake. A mistake who keeps turning up at parties. In his eyes, she’s perfect. He’s short-sighted. A very human tale of good intentions and bad timing.

Dirty Great Love Story received its world premiere at the Pleasance, Edinburgh, in August 2012, directed by Pia Furtado, and produced by the cast and Polly Ingham. It received a Fringe First for innovation and outstanding new writing. In 2013 it was presented at Bristol Old Vic Theatre, Soho Theatre and the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds by Polly Ingham Productions. It transferred to 59E59 Theaters in New York in June 2013 as part of the Brits Off-Broadway Festival, presented by Polly Ingham Productions and Tim Johanson Productions in Association with the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds.

Ideal for actors seeking two-hander comedy pieces for auditions or performance, Dirty Great Love Story was widely praised on its initial productions, with The Times writing of its ‘Comic precision, heart and unflagging pace . . . Laughs are frequent, unsignalled and brilliant’.

Doldrum Bay

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Doldrum Bay is a bittersweet comedy about the incongruous lives of people stranded by life.

As Magda comes to terms with her demanding father’s terminal illness, her husband Francis seduces a girl dressed as a mermaid with extracts from his Great Irish Novel. It is going to be a world-changing, filmic masterpiece on sex and faith, though he’s been so busy promoting it that he hasn’t written it yet. Their friend Chick has been commissioned to come up with an advertising campaign for the Christian Brothers: advertise God in seven words. Louise is pregnant, trying to keep her head above water. The play is a soul-searching satire on their loves and losses, and their marooned, forty-something lives.

Doldrum Bay premiered in 2003 at the Peacock Stage of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

A Doll's House (trans. Stephens)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The slamming of the front door at the end of Ibsen’s delicate and electrifying play shatters the romantic masquerade of the Nora and Torvald’s marriage. In their stultifying and infantilised relationship, they have deceived themselves and each other into thinking they are happy. But Nora’s concealment of a loan she had to take out for her husband’s sake forces their frivolous conversation to an irrevocable crisis, until Nora claims her right to individual freedom.

Ibsen’s 1879 play shocked its first audiences with its radical insights into the social roles of husband and wife. His portrayal of his flawed heroine, Nora, remains one of the most striking dramatic depictions of late-nineteenth century woman.

This version is translated by Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens, and was first performed at the Young Vic, London on 29 June 2012

Drag Act

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Drag Act is a proud and punchy monologue spoken by Rose, a fifty-two year old lesbian who can’t stand being told how she should dress. She was told by her mother that she should be more girly and feminine, and now she finds she’s being told that she’s letting down ‘the Cause’ by wearing trousers; she’s sick of people thinking she’s trying to be a man. So she’s reluctant when her new younger girlfriend Sarah insists they go to a drag club for her birthday, until she realises that among the sequins and the feathers are people just like her.

Drag Act was first presented in 1993 at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool.

Dreaming

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Dreaming is an unhinged and fervid play, a comic-historical epic set in the bloody aftermath of the Wars of the Roses.

Captain John Mallory leads a band of renegades across the field of the Battle of Tewkesbury, where they plunder the bodies and slit the throats of the survivors. Impressed by his ruthlessness, Richard Duke of Gloucester, a wry twist on Shakespeare’s character who complains of being misquoted, offers Mallory and his sword a place in his court, along with power and riches. Mallory just wants to go home to his wife and child, but he’s been away six years . . . In this apocalyptic vision packed with ravishing images, Mallory leads his rag-bag troop across a battle-scarred land on a breathtaking quest in search of a dream – a dream of home.

Combining gallows humour and searing lyricism, Dreaming is a haunting and brutally funny story of heroism and human values.

Dry Ice

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Dry Ice is a critically acclaimed solo show about a young stripper, which was produced at by the Underbelly, Edinburgh, and the Bush Theatre, London, and directed by David Schwimmer. It played at the Contact, Manchester, the Southbank Centre, London, and the Bush Theatre, London, as part of Madani Younis’s debut season in 2012.

Sabrina Mahfouz’s Dry Ice was originally published in a volume of three plays called The Clean Collection, alongside One Hour Only and Clean . The volume also contained a selection of poetry by the playwright.

Dublin by Lamplight

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Amidst the filth and fury of Dublin 1904, the theatrical event of the century is about to explode...Will the Irish National Theatre of Ireland seize its chance for glory? Fading stars, rebels, whores, and romantics irreverently expose the strange and lurid world of Dublin by Lamplight.

Dyl  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

400 miles from home, James has started a new career as a rigger - two weeks onshore, two weeks offshore - existing between two very different spaces; and his daughter Dyl is with him in neither of them.
Instead he has Ryan, his live-in landlord - sarcastic, free-spirited and liable to say what he thinks before he thinks what he says.

As James focuses on finding the answers from within himself, he risks losing the very relationships that can keep him on track.

Dyl is a sad comedy about isolation, the righting of wrongs and shouldering life's responsibilities. 

Easy Access (For The Boys)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Easy Access (For The Boys) is a hard-hitting and uncomfortable play about victims of child abuse, and the challenging complexity of their relationships with their abusers.

Michael and his friend Gary were both sexually abused by their fathers. Michael, a young prostitute, is making a video diary with Gary’s help – an attempt to understand his past and the lies he has been told by his father and by himself. When his dad gets a new assistant and she and her young son move in with him, Michael’s determination to protect the child leads him to revisit the past in more ominous detail. Mixing video footage and on-stage conversations, this is a story of blame, love and confusion, in which the sufferings of the past spill over into the rage of the present.

Easy Access (For The Boys) premiered at the Drill Hall in 1998.

Eden

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Breda, determined that her recent weight loss will not be a wasted effort, has planned a night out with her husband, Billy. Neither can remember the last time they slept together, but Breda intends to change that.

Under the influence of alcohol, however, their date night goes awry, and they find themselves revealing far more than they had intended.

Eden premiered on the Peacock stage of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in 2001, and was later mounted on the West End and Broadway. Written as monologues for two actors, it explores the disintegration of marital intimacy in an intimate theatrical format.

Eden's Empire

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Eden’s Empire is a powerful historical play about Anthony Eden’s infamous term as Prime Minister, a gripping account of power and political mistakes.

Fifty years ago, Britain propelled itself into a disastrous war in the Middle East. Condemned by the UN and accused of falsifying intelligence, the Prime Minister was left fighting for his political life against a Party disillusioned, a public betrayed and a wily Chancellor with ambitions to take his place.

Under the pressure of opposition to his war, Prime Minister Anthony Eden rapidly lost his grip on both the Empire and his health. Unable to control either the growing power of both the United States and the Arab world, or his own failing body, history would mark him as the worst British Prime Minister of the twentieth century.

Graham’s uncompromising political thriller explores with electrifying theatricality the events of the Suez Crisis, and the tragic story of its flawed hero – Churchill’s golden boy and heir apparent, Anthony Eden.

Eden’s Empire was first performed at the Finborough Theatre in 2006.

The Education of Skinny Spew

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Education of Skinny Spew is a savage play, a brief journey through the life of a boy who gains consciousness in the womb and is immediately disgusted with the world. Skinny Spew is insulted by his parent’s inane attempts to talk to him, rips up his teddy bear, and eventually attacks those he sees as attempting to civilise him, and repress his right to play as he wants to.

It is part of Brenton’s group of ‘Plays for the Poor Theatre’ – plays with minimal theatrical requirements and small casts, but fierce intensity.

The Education of Skinny Spew was first performed in 1969 by the University of Bradford Drama Group.

Methuen Drama's Modern Plays series is famous for containing the work of many of the finest contemporary playwrights. First established in 1959, the series remains synonymous with the very best in new writing for the stage. Plays are published to coincide with their stage premiere with the result that it is an extensive and ever-expanding series at the cutting edge of new drama today.