Claire Dowie

Share

Plays by Claire Dowie

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Leaking From Every Orifice

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Leaking From Every Orifice is a forthright monologue about motherhood, told by a woman who thinks womanhood is crap, and being a mother is insufferable. The story begins, she tells us, when she was performing Dowie’s own earlier play about gender, Why Is John Lennon Wearing A Skirt?, and she met an old friend who hated the play. Being a mother and having the capacity to nurture, said the old friend, made everything else unimportant. So Leaking From Every Orifice is the story of how a lesbian became pregnant with a gay man, and struggled through nauseating baby-books and patronising antenatal classes to discover for herself what motherhood means.

Leaking From Every Orifice was first presented at the 1993 Bisexual Conference, Nottingham.

Sodom

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Funny, powerful and transgressive, Sodom refigures the classic biblical tale of Lot, using it to examine the dangers of being different in a rigid world. Claire Dowie reveals that, in fact, everyone in Sodom, apart from Lot and his wife, is gay.

Dowie then translates the morality of the biblical story to examine the persecution of a distrusted commune in the modern day.

Sodom shows that society’s fear of the Other translates across the millennia.

Why Is John Lennon Wearing A Skirt?

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Dowie’s best known ‘stand-up play’ is a fierce and subversive monologue about gender expectations and stereotypes, spoken by someone who doesn’t want to be a ‘girl’, doesn’t want to wear skirts, wants to be John Lennon. What begins as frustration at the impracticality of the compulsory school skirt – only good for showing off legs and no good for playing football – becomes an articulate and passionate invective against obligatory femininity. Why is John Lennon Wearing A Skirt? is a powerful condemnation of society’s aggressive reinforcement of gender constructs, and the difficulties of finding a way to be who you want to be.

Why Is John Lennon Wearing A Skirt? was first presented in 1990 at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.

The Year of the Monkey

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Year of the Monkey is a collection of four short plays by comedian-author Claire Dowie. Each play takes the form of a long, narrative monologue.

In Bonfire Night, the speaker, a woman caring for her elderly father, reminisces about being a young girl who wanted to play with guns like the boys.

Arsehammers is about a boy’s relationship with his grandfather, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.The protagonist of Allotments talks about her neighbourhood’s garden allotments, her favourite topic of conversation, and reveals the unusual community that has grown around it.

In The Year of the Monkey, a mother dreams of injecting some excitement into her life.

Funny, poignant and occasionally shocking, these four pieces demonstrate Dowie’s great facility with storytelling.

Picture of Claire Dowie

Claire Dowie is a writer, performer, poet, comedian and pioneer of Stand-Up Theatre, often associated with the In-Yer-Face approach to theatre-making. After starting out on the alternative comedy circuit, she switched to stand-up comedy and writing plays. Her first major work, Adult Child/Dead Child, won a Time Out Award in 1988. Other works include Why is John Lennon Wearing a Skirt?, Easy Access (For the Boys), All Over Lovely, Cat and Mouse, Death and Dancing and The Year of the Monkey.