LOVE.....LUST...MURDER. In 1935, Alma Rattenbury, together with her teenage lover, George Wood, was put on trial for the vicious murder of her husband, Francis. The trial was a sensation, with the public screaming for vengeance on ‘this scarlet woman.’ This, the very last play that he wrote, shows Rattigan at his best, as he deals with the inequality of passion, the power of youth over age, the corrosive effects of English sexual Puritanism and not least, trenchant class attitudes.
Written by Lee Hall (who also wrote Billy Elliot), The Pitmen Painters was first performed in Newcastle in 2007. Almost instantly it was snapped up by the National Theatre, achieving sell out audiences in London, touring the UK and also transferring to Broadway. It is currently listed as a set text in the comedy section for Edexcel English Literature at A and AS Level. It is most definitely a great play to watch, study and perform!
The Pitmen Painters is a true story. The action takes place between 1934 & 1947. A group of miners from Ashington, Northumberland, attend evening classes after work. Ideally they had wanted to learn about economics but the only teacher available turns out to be an art historian who isn’t even a professor!
The miners are cynical and the teacher struggles to find a way to engage his audience. Until, that is, the teacher sets them homework…”Do it yourselves…..Paint.”
“The thing about Christmas is that people who may not actually like each other are forced into close proximity and have to pretend to be chummy and full of benevolent yuletide cheer if only for the sake of the kids. Add large quantities of alcohol and you have a reliable recipe for disaster. Neville Bunker and his wife Belinda are the hosts, entertaining a former colleague of Neville’s and his heavily pregnant wife. Both marriages are unhappy, the husbands are complacent bores, the wives feel unloved and neglected, but almost everyone in this play is either vile or wretched. Other guests include Neville’s alcoholic sister and her hopeless GP of a husband, the latter preparing for his annual puppet show, and Belinda’s virginal unmarried sister, who has invited her new boyfriend. The explosive cherry on the comic cake is Neville’s near-psychopathic security guard of an uncle, who wears a knife strapped to his calf, is giving all the kiddies guns for Christmas and has prepared a few nasty surprises for the grown-ups too. What’s remarkable is how much hilarity Ayckbourn wrings out of misery and cruelty. But laugh we do, even in the midst of the emotional carnage, as an illicit sexual tryst under the Christmas tree is interrupted by a mechanical toy, a desperately unhappy wife tries to rouse her husband from a drunken stupor and in the explosive finale, violent death suddenly enters the scenario. As Samuel Beckett once bleakly observed, nothing is as funny as other people’s unhappiness”. (Charles Spencer – Daily Telegraph)
Described as a fierce and funny satire, this bitter domestic black comedy is about two ostensibly civilised couples, who meet to discuss a playground punch-up between their respective sons, in a civilised manner. However, as the meeting goes on the parents become increasingly childish, resulting the evening devolving into chaos and barbarism.
“I never had anyone watching from a window for me. You got lucky.”
Welcome to South Boston USA (“Southie”), where a night on the town means a few games of Bingo. Where this month’s paycheck hardly covers last month’s bills. And where Margaret (Margie) Walsh has just lost her job. Again.
Finding herself facing eviction, sharp-tongued single mother Margie will do anything it takes to pay the bills. So when she hears that an old boyfriend who has made good is back in town, she pursues him, hoping that he might just be the ticket to turning her life around. With unexpected results for everyone…
In Good People, Pulitzer prize-winning author David Lindsay-Abaire uses wry humour and astonishingly well-written dialogue to create a funny and tender drama exploring the struggles, shifting loyalties and unshakeable hopes that come with having next to nothing.
First seen in the UK at the Hampstead Theatre in 2014 with Imelda Staunton in the lead role (for which she was nominated for an Olivier award) this remarkable play has audiences roaring with laughter one moment and shedding a tear the next.
A lethal game of cat and mouse inspired by historical fact. As blisteringly funny as it is deeply chilling. Moscow 1938 and the playwright Mikhail Bulgakov who is living amongst dissidents and stalked by the secret police is offered a poisoned chalice – a commission to write a play about Stalin ‘Young Joseph’ to celebrate his sixtieth birthday. As Bulgakov gets off to a slow start Stalin relishes the idea of writing his own personal story with himself as the star but if he is writing a play who is running the country? An epic piece of theatre, darkly comedic and shockingly dramatic.
“Do any human beings ever realise life while they live it?”
Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Our Town” is an iconic and timeless classic that still resonates with audiences across the globe.
The story is deceptively simple: In a small American town, two people fall in love, marry and live out their lives among the many villagers there. Its powerful message to audiences is that too often we squander time looking back to a past we cannot change without truly embracing the present. The play celebrates the beauty of life, not just for the big events but for the smallest details and interactions that we never fully treasure while we live them.
With a narrator, no props and a minimal set, Wilder looks through a telescope at the characters living in the town, allowing the audience to appreciate the acting and the ironic truth of our human existence.
Edna and Mel are a struggling, middle-aged couple living in New York City. The apartment they live in has plumbing problems, walls that are too thin, garbage that piles up, high crime and they are in the middle of a heatwave. Mel loses his job and finds it hard to come to terms with being older and unemployed. When they are robbed, their problems escalate and Mel suffers a nervous breakdown. Edna tries to support her husband and gets a job to pay the rent. However, it isn’t enough and Mel’s siblings are called in before things become worse.
The Prisoner of Second Avenue by Neil Simon is an hilarious play which premiered on Broadway on November 11, 1971. Clive Barnes, in The New York Times, wrote that "it is, I think, the most honestly amusing comedy that Mr. Simon has so far given us."
The play ran in the West End at the Vaudeville Theatre, produced by Old Vic Company/Old Vic Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions, opening on June 30, 2010. The film version of The Prisoner of Second Avenue starred Jack Lemmon, Anne Bancroft and Gene Saks.
Described as “Simon’s comedy turns darker”, the play is set in the early 1970s in an apartment in New York City. Mel and Edna, a middle aged couple, struggle with city life, high crime, strikes, unemployment, financial problems, faulty plumbing and noisy neighbours.
Based on an old Chinese story, Brecht’s play, written in 1944, was originally set in the Soviet Union but in this modern version it will be set in a timeless Eastern European State, ravaged by civil war. The prologue is an argument about landownership and post-war government intervention. The villagers of the affected territory however distract the government official, sent to take their land away, by putting on a play within the play, which becomes the “main event”. Also set in a civil war torn land it is a parable about a peasant girl who rescues a baby and becomes a better mother than its wealthy natural parents.
The phrase “modern classic” is sometimes overused, but in this case it is surely most appropriate. Peter Shaffer’s haunting, disturbing, visually unforgettable play “Equus” is known as one of the finest plays of the 20th Century.
Based on a story he was told in the car by a friend of an incident in some stables near to where they were driving, Shaffer attempts to enter the mind of a 17 year old boy who has been sent to a psychiatrist after being convicted of blinding 6 horses with a hoof pick. The psychiatrist has to overcome the boy’s anger and resentment, and whilst trying to get to the truth begins to question the validity of his reasons and his own life.