Modern Plays

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.