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Plays

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.

Ballyturk

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk is a play of lyrical intensity and physical comedy, in which the lives of two men unravel over the course of ninety minutes. It was first performed at the Black Box Theatre, Galway, as part of the Galway International Arts Festival on 14 July 2014 in a production by Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival. The production subsequently toured to the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Cork Opera House, and the National Theatre, London.

The play's action takes place in a 'very large room' containing furniture pushed up against the walls. Two men, simply identified as 1 and 2, pass the time in speeded-up, silent-comedy rituals and speculating about daily life in an imagined Irish town called Ballyturk. But when a third character, 3, turns up, he not only breaks up the partnership but invites one of the duo into the outer world, and inevitable extinction.

The premiere production was directed by Enda Walsh and designed by Jamie Vartan. It was performed by Cillian Murphy, Mikel Murfi, Stephen Rea, Orla Ní Ghríofa and Aisling Walsh, with the voices of Eanna Breathnach, Niall Buggy, Denise Gough and Pauline McLynn.

East

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

It’s London in the 1970s and Mike, Les and Slv are fighting for their youth. Filling their days with sex and violence, they battle both the boredom they fear and the inevitable future they see in their parents, ultimately finding that history is doomed to repeat itself.

East offers a stylized and humorous examination of the violence and uncertainty of growing up in the east end of London.

Steven Berkoff’s East premiered at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in August 1975, in a London Theatre Group production.

Greek

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In spite of Eddy’s humble beginnings, he manages to find happiness by solving the Sphinx’s riddle and ending the plague of poverty that surrounds him. He gains wealth and loves his beautiful wife – but will the gypsy’s prophecy come true? Does a fate worse than death await him?

Steven Berkoff’s exciting retelling of the ancient Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex puts the hero in contemporary England, and explores the story from a whole new angle, emphasizing the positive and redemptive power of love.

Greek premiered at the Half Moon Theatre, London, in February 1980, in an Arts Theatre production.

A Mouthful of Birds

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

A Mouthful of Birds is a collaboratively written theatre piece by Caryl Churchill and David Lan, combining text and dance to explore the nature of madness, possession and violence. It was inspired by Euripides’ Bacchae. The play was first performed in association with Joint Stock Theatre Company at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 27 November 1986 and opened at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 27 November 1986.

The play consists of 32 short vignettes relating to the theme of madness and possession. Lena is a mother who hears voices commanding her to drown her baby. A new spirit guide is taunting voodoo practitioner Marcia whilst Yvonne is a desperate alcoholic. Meanwhile, businessman Paul falls inexplicably and suddenly in love with a pig. A female prison warder bemoans the appearance of a new prisoner who is killing all her female inmates using magic, while Doreen is suffering from grotesque delusions. Herculine Barbin, played by a women but dressed as a man, delivers a monologue at the start of Act Two, while Dionysos, played by a man in a white petticoat, performs a series of dances that punctuate the action.

A Mouthful of Birds was developed in workshop with Joint Stock Theatre Company over a period of twelve weeks. As Caryl Churchill explains in the Introduction to Plays: Three, 'Ian Spink (choreographer) worked with the company continuously, making some material before any text was written, and some to fit specifically into scenes that were written to have dance in them.'

The Joint Stock production was directed by Ian Spink and Les Waters, and designed by Annie Smart. The cast included Tricia Kelly, Dona Croll, Christian Burgess, Vivienne Rochester, Philippe Giraudeau, Stephen Goff, Marjorie Yates and Amelda Brown.

Olfactory

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Over 10,000 different smells drift across our planet in various configurations. Olfactory gives you a choice to craft your identity and to decode the invisible molecules floating through the air. Who do you want to be in the future?

This short play explores our invisible relationship with perfumes and smell, through a one-on-one performance, encased in a beautiful piece of architecture. The experience was originally presented as part of the Lyric Hammersmith's 'Theatre in the Square' season in 2012.

West

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

There will be a gang fight at midnight on London’s Stamford Hill, the central crossroads between Tottenham, Dalston and Hoxton. Who will win: Mike, the hero of Stamford Hill or Curly, the leader of the Hoxton Mob?

A story that centers on place and time as much as on courage and youth, West poetically explores identity and violence in London’s West End.

West premiered at the Donmar Warehouse, London, in May 1983.

Generally, a theatre piece in which the physical aspects of the performance are at least as important as the dialogue, often more so. The term has been used to describe the work of Grotowski, whose laboratory theatre involved extensive and rigorous physical training, and that of his disciples like Schechner. It is also applied to a broader spectrum of work exemplified by companies such as Théâtre de Complicité, in which the performers’ training in such disciplines as clowning, mime and commedia dell’arte techniques provides a completely different perspective on even the most traditional material.

from Andrew Solway, The Continuum Companion to Twentieth-Century Theatre, ed. Colin Chambers (London, 2002).