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.

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.