An account of the life of the poet John Clare, The Fool is set against rural dissent and industrialisation, an interrogation of the relationships of capitalism, class and art that burns with pain and anger.
The Fool sees Clare taking part in the Littleport riots of 1816, when England was steeped in unemployment, high prices and low pay, and the labourers of Littleport in Cambridgeshire attacked the shops and wealthier residents of the town. Bond’s play shows the parson being looted, stripped and clawed by the workers who accuse him of starving their children. Living with hardship and unrest, Clare’s life is torn into pieces as the woman he loves disappears, the countryside is eaten up by the advance of industrialisation, his fashionable and condescending patrons refuse to print what they call radicalism, and illness and literary fervour mean he cannot provide for his family.
The Fool was first performed in 1975 at the Royal Court Theatre, London.