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Plays

Blood and Ice

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Liz Lochhead's earliest play, Blood and Ice is a psychodrama that tells the story of Frankenstein’s creation and weaves a web of connections between Mary Shelley’s own tragic life and that of her literary monster. It was first performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 1982. It was later revived, in a revised version, by David McVicar at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1988, and subsequently toured by McVicar's company, Pen Name. It was again revived, in the version that was ultimately published, at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, on 24 October 2003.

The play unfolds as a series of flashbacks from the perspective of Mary Shelley in later life, disillusioned, let down by her friends, and struggling to understand her own creation, Frankenstein, or why she wrote it in the first place. It focuses on the summer of 1816, when eighteen-year-old Mary and her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley are joined at a house party on the shores of Lake Geneva by Mary’s half-sister Claire and the infamous Lord Byron. They take part in a challenge to see who can write the most horrifying story. Little do they know that Mary’s contribution is to become one of the most celebrated novels of all time, nor how her life, already burdened with the death of her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, is to be so full of tragedy.

Liz Lochhead, in a 2009 Introduction to the published text, writes 'It’s exactly thirty years since I first took down from a library shelf Muriel Spark’s Child of Light, her wonderful biography of Mary Shelley, and, shortly after, began my own pursuit. Could I make a play…? Naively, I was, at the time, quite blithely unaware that I wasn’t the first, and certainly wouldn’t be the last, to be fired by the dramatic possibilities of this moment in history, that iconic stormy summer of 1816 by the shores of the lake and beneath the high Alps.'

The 2003 Royal Lyceum production was directed by Graham McLaren and performed by Lucianne McEvoy, Phil Matthews, Alex Hassel, Susan Coyle and Michele Rodley.

The Doctor’s Story (Play Three from The Middlemarch Trilogy)

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

The Doctor's Story is part of The Middlemarch Trilogy, a three-part stage adaptation by Geoffrey Beevers of George Eliot's novel Middlemarch (published 1871-2).

The Middlemarch Trilogy comprises three interconnected plays (Dorothea's Story, The Doctor's Story and Fred and Mary's Story) telling the story of Eliot's fictitious town of Middlemarch from the perspective of three different sets of characters: from county, town and countryside. They were first performed at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, in 2013. The Doctor’s Story opened on 13 November.

In The Doctor’s Story, set in the town of Middlemarch itself, where everyone wants to know each other’s business, idealistic Dr Lydgate arrives in Middlemarch determined to achieve great things. He catches the eye of the Mayor’s beautiful, self-centred daughter Rosamond but is torn between ambition and loyalty as he is drawn into an alliance with a corrupt banker.

The Orange Tree production was directed by Geoffrey Beevers and designed by Sam Dowson. The cast was Georgina Strawson, Daisy Ashford, Christopher Ettridge, Christopher Naylor, Jamie Newall, Liz Crowther, Ben Lambert, Michael Lumsden, NiamhWalsh, David Ricardo-Pearce and Lucy Tregear.

In his introduction to the published script (Nick Hern Books, 2014), Geoffrey Beevers writes, 'I’ve always loved the challenge of huge themes in intimate spaces, where the principle must be, not: ‘What can we do with this?’ but: ‘What can we do without? How can we tell this story, as simply as possible, so the story will shine through?’ I wanted to use only her words, a few actors and a minimum of setting, and leave as much as possible to the audience’s imagination.'

Dorothea's Story (Play Two from The Middlemarch Trilogy)

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Dorothea's Story is part of The Middlemarch Trilogy, a three-part stage adaptation by Geoffrey Beevers of George Eliot's novel Middlemarch (published 1871-2).

The Middlemarch Trilogy comprises three interconnected plays (Dorothea's Story, The Doctor's Story and Fred and Mary's Story) telling the story of Eliot's fictitious town of Middlemarch from the perspective of three different sets of characters: from county, town and countryside. They were first performed at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, in 2013. Dorothea’s Story opened on 23 October.

In Dorothea’s Story, set among the big houses of the local aristocracy of Middlemarch, young, intelligent Dorothea is so enamoured of the pedantic Reverend Casaubon that she marries him, much to everyone’s disbelief. But her friendship with Casaubon’s young cousin Will Ladislaw arouses suspicions in her new husband, who will do anything to thwart their mutual affection.

The Orange Tree production was directed by Geoffrey Beevers and designed by Sam Dowson. The cast was Georgina Strawson, Daisy Ashford, Christopher Ettridge, Christopher Naylor, Jamie Newall, Liz Crowther, Ben Lambert, Michael Lumsden, NiamhWalsh, David Ricardo-Pearce and Lucy Tregear.

In his introduction to the published script (Nick Hern Books, 2014), Geoffrey Beevers writes, 'I’ve always loved the challenge of huge themes in intimate spaces, where the principle must be, not: ‘What can we do with this?’ but: ‘What can we do without? How can we tell this story, as simply as possible, so the story will shine through?’ I wanted to use only her words, a few actors and a minimum of setting, and leave as much as possible to the audience’s imagination.'

Faust: Part One

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Goethe's Faust is a two-part retelling of the story of Faust, the learned doctor who makes a pact with the Devil to obtain magical powers, but is finally carried off to hell when the Devil comes to claim his soul.

The work occupied Goethe during the whole of his creative life: he began work on it in about 1772-5; published a first fragment of it in 1790, then the whole of Part One in 1808; saw the first performance of Part One in Brunswick in 1829; and was still making minor revisions to Part Two shortly before his death in March 1832.

The two parts of the original are full of meandering plotlines and inconsistencies. Although Faust is written in dialogue form, it appears that Goethe did not intend it to be a play at all. John Clifford, the translator of this version, describes it in his introduction to the Nick Hern Books edition (published 2006) as 'a poetic autobiography and epic-dramatic confession'.

Clifford's task as translator, he writes, was to 'shorten the text, reducing it to a manageable length without compromising the richness and complexity of the journey; make abstractions vivid and fill them with life; discover a form of verse that would be faithful to Goethe's poetic spirit without reproducing his very literary and non-dramatic forms; reduce the worst of the meanderings and dead ends and discover a theatrical through-line that holds the whole journey together.'

The resulting version aims to be true to the spirit of Goethe's work, while also reflecting Clifford's own creative and personal life, including his identity as a transgendered person (he subsequently changed his name to Jo Clifford), and the traumatic loss to cancer of his lifelong partner, Sue Innes, in the course of working on this translation. 'While I hope the result is true to the spirit of Goethe's work,' he writes in his introduction, 'it is also most intimately autobiographical'.

This version was first performed at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, on 28 February 2006 (Part One) and on 1 March 2006 (Part Two). The production was directed by Mark Thomson and designed by Francis O'Connor.

Faust: Part Two

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Goethe's Faust is a two-part retelling of the story of Faust, the learned doctor who makes a pact with the Devil to obtain magical powers, but is finally carried off to hell when the Devil comes to claim his soul.

The work occupied Goethe during the whole of his creative life: he began work on it in about 1772-5; published a first fragment of it in 1790, then the whole of Part One in 1808; saw the first performance of Part One in Brunswick in 1829; and was still making minor revisions to Part Two shortly before his death in March 1832.

The two parts of the original are full of meandering plotlines and inconsistencies. Although Faust is written in dialogue form, it appears that Goethe did not intend it to be a play at all. John Clifford, the translator of this version, describes it in his introduction to the Nick Hern Books edition (published 2006) as 'a poetic autobiography and epic-dramatic confession'.

Clifford's task as translator, he writes, was to 'shorten the text, reducing it to a manageable length without compromising the richness and complexity of the journey; make abstractions vivid and fill them with life; discover a form of verse that would be faithful to Goethe's poetic spirit without reproducing his very literary and non-dramatic forms; reduce the worst of the meanderings and dead ends and discover a theatrical through-line that holds the whole journey together.'

The resulting version aims to be true to the spirit of Goethe's work, while also reflecting Clifford's own creative and personal life, including his identity as a transgendered person (he subsequently changed his name to Jo Clifford), and the traumatic loss to cancer of his lifelong partner, Sue Innes, in the course of working on this translation. 'While I hope the result is true to the spirit of Goethe's work,' he writes in his introduction, 'it is also most intimately autobiographical'.

This version was first performed at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, on 28 February 2006 (Part One) and on 1 March 2006 (Part Two). The production was directed by Mark Thomson and designed by Francis O'Connor.

Fred and Mary’s Story (Play One from The Middlemarch Trilogy)

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Fred and Mary's Story is part of The Middlemarch Trilogy, a three-part stage adaptation by Geoffrey Beevers of George Eliot's novel Middlemarch (published 1871-2).

The Middlemarch Trilogy comprises three interconnected plays (Dorothea's Story, The Doctor's Story and Fred and Mary's Story) telling the story of Eliot's fictitious town of Middlemarch from the perspective of three different sets of characters: from county, town and countryside. They were first performed at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, in 2013. Fred and Mary’s Story opened on 4 December.

In Fred and Mary’s Story, set amongst hard-working countryfolk, Fred is trying to please his parents and become a country gentleman, but his childhood sweetheart Mary will have none of it.

The Orange Tree production was directed by Geoffrey Beevers and designed by Sam Dowson. The cast was Georgina Strawson, Daisy Ashford, Christopher Ettridge, Christopher Naylor, Jamie Newall, Liz Crowther, Ben Lambert, Michael Lumsden, NiamhWalsh, David Ricardo-Pearce and Lucy Tregear.

In his introduction to the published script (Nick Hern Books, 2014), Geoffrey Beevers writes, 'I’ve always loved the challenge of huge themes in intimate spaces, where the principle must be, not: ‘What can we do with this?’ but: ‘What can we do without? How can we tell this story, as simply as possible, so the story will shine through?’ I wanted to use only her words, a few actors and a minimum of setting, and leave as much as possible to the audience’s imagination.'

The Government Inspector

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Nikolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector is a classic Russian satire of provincial bureaucracy, a comedy of errors that satirises small-town political corruption and human greed. It is arguably Gogol’s best known and most popular work. It was first performed at the Aleksandrinsky Imperial Theatre in St Petersburg on 19 April 1836 at the personal request of Tsar Nicholas I (who afterwards expressed his delight). It subsequently opened at the Maly Theatre, Moscow, on 25 May.

Stephen Mulrine, the author of this translation, describes what happens in the play in his introduction to the published edition: 'In all essentials, Gogol’s "case of mistaken identity" is a comic warhorse of some pedigree, reaching back to classical times and forward to our own day in seemingly inexhaustible variation. A penniless stranger arrives in a small provincial town, is mistaken for a VIP, treated like royalty by all and sundry, and eventually exposed – making his hosts look extremely foolish. [...] Detail is all-important in Gogol’s work, and The Government Inspector is no exception. Almost the whole of Act One, for example, is devoted to painting a picture of his nameless provincial mudhole, and its corrupt and self-serving administrators, long before the play’s eponymous "hero" makes his entrance, in the squalid inn which is the setting for Act Two.

'Khlestakov, the bogus inspector, is in fact a low-grade civil servant, travelling from St Petersburg to his family home – a young man living beyond his means, a follower of fashion, and inveterate card-player, temporarily holed up at the local inn, and unable to pay his bill. However, while Khlestakov and his manservant Osip debate where their next meal is to come from, the town mayor is at that moment reading out the contents of a letter to an urgently convened assembly of local officials and dignitaries.

'The letter warns of an impending visit by a government inspector, travelling incognito, and the anxious officials attempt to plan a strategy for keeping their various swindles under wraps, at least for the duration of the visit. The mayor himself might be described as bribe-taker in chief, preying on the local traders; the judge, obsessed with riding to hounds, treats his court as an extension of his tack-room; the postmaster diligently unseals the mail, and retails its contents as gossip; the charities warden, and a compliant workhouse physician maintain their charges on a régime of strict discipline and no expensive medicaments. Embezzlement is routine, the town is run for private profit, and the officials are further panicked when two local landowners, Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky, burst in to announce that the government inspector, in the person of Khlestakov, is in their very midst!

'The mayor promptly leads a delegation to Khlestakov’s inn, settles the latter’s unpaid account, and arranges for his removal to more comfortable quarters, i.e., his own mansion, where Khlestakov, the sophisticated St Petersburg dandy, instantly becomes a focus for the amorous yearnings not only of the mayor’s daughter, but also of his wife. While Khlestakov is enjoying life at the mayor’s house, he receives a series of visits from the guilt-ridden officials, each more eager than the last to purchase his favour, with extravagant "loans".

'Word of the inspector’s presence has filtered down to the longsuffering citizenry, however, and a deputation of traders and artisans also arrives with a catalogue of grievances for Khlestakov, accusing the mayor. Siberian exile, at the very least, appears to beckon, but in a neat twist, Khlestakov is inveigled into proposing marriage to the mayor’s daughter. Overcome with relief, now that his position is secure, the mayor envisages a glittering career in St Petersburg. Khlestakov, meanwhile, has yielded to the urgings of his manservant Osip to quit while ahead, and is already miles away by the time the postmaster unseals his letter to a St Petersburg journalist crony, revealing all.

'Finally, just as it seems the nadir has been reached, with the townsfolk’s realisation that they have been willing dupes, a policeman enters with the news that a genuine government inspector has arrived, and is waiting for them at the inn. The mayor and his officials, his wife and daughter, their various guests, all freeze in a dumb show precisely described by Gogol, a literal monument to human greed and folly.'

audio Jane Eyre

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Orphaned Jane journeys from a harsh childhood to become the loving caregiver of a child at the mysterious manor of Mr. Rochester. Jane is drawn to her enigmatic employer, but as dark secrets emerge, she must choose between her newfound security and the uncertainty of a life lived for oneself. An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring: Emily Bergl as Jane Jane Carr as Mrs. Reed Alexis Jacknow as Grace/Amy/Diana Cerris Morgan-Moyer as Bertha/Adele/Blanche/Hannah Darren Richardson as St. John/Mason Alan Shearman as Brocklehurst/Dr. Carter/Reverend Wood/Porter Jeanne Syquia as Helen/Mary Nick Toren as Rochester Joanne Whalley as Mrs. Fairfax/Lady Ingram Directed by Marsha Mason and recorded before a live audience. Featuring: Emily Bergl, Jane Carr, Alexis Jacknow, Cerris Morgan-Moyer, Darren Richardson, Alan Shearman, Jeanne Syquia, Nick Toren, Joanne Whalley

London Assurance

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Following the courtships and disguises of its satirical, farcical characters, London Assurance is a merry parade of wittily constructed skirmishes between love and money, town and country, nature and artifice.

The preening Sir Harcourt sets off to Oak Hall in the country in order to marry the lovely eighteen-year-old Grace, little realising that his son, Young Courtly, is simultaneously wooing the same beauty under the assumed name of Augustus Hamilton. But Sir Harcourt finds himself stirred instead by the rumbustious Lady Gay Spanker, who married an exceedingly rich bachelor out of pity, and having squashed his spirit is now ready to flirt to the hilt with the devoted Sir Hamilton. The double courtship, surrounded by a set of brilliantly comic characters, ultimately exposes the falsity of judgements based on money or fashion, as well as gleefully lampooning all manner of social eccentricities.

The first performance of London Assurance was in 1841 at Covent Garden, London.

The Maiden Stone

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Rona Munro's The Maiden Stone is a play about a group of women struggling to get by in the harsh world of north-east Scotland in the early nineteenth century. It was first performed at Hampstead Theatre, London, on 21 April 1995 (press night on 27 April), having already won the inaugural Peggy Ramsay Award.

Down-on-her luck and out-of-work actress Harriet and her family are wandering the roads of Scotland looking for food, shelter and the opportunity to perform. But they are not the only ones travelling the highways and byways – there’s traveller and storyteller Bidie and her family, always looking for a break; and the dangerously beguiling stranger Nick, whose presence on the road might turn out to be more of a curse than a blessing.

In a note accompanying the published text, Munro writes that it is a play about her own birthplace. 'The language of the piece is the native dialect as I remember it and is in no sense historical but a living language. For the Hampstead production we reproduced this with minimal compromise and I don’t think the rhythm or the integrity of the play would survive any attempt at translation.'

The Hampstead Theatre premiere was directed by Matthew Lloyd and designed by Robin Don (set) and Anne Sinclair (costumes). It was performed by Frances Tomelty, Carol Ann Crawford, Shirley Henderson, Sarah Howe, Paul Higgins, Alexander Morton and Anthony Colbert.