The plays in this volume range from the once shockingly realistic Ghosts (1881), 'the play that launched a thousand ships of critical fury'; through The Wild Duck (1884) with its innovatory symbolism and its touching portrait of a fourteen-year-old girl held in thrall by her feckless father ('Where,' asked George Bernard Shaw, 'shall I find an epithet magnificent enough for The Wild Duck?'); to The Master Builder (1892), showing the semi-autobiographical relationship between an ageing genius and a dynamic young woman. Michael Meyer's translations are 'crisp and cobweb-free, purged of verbal Victoriana' (Kenneth Tynan)
Edward Bond's version of Lear's story embraces myth and reality, war and politics, to reveal the violence endemic in all unjust societies. He exposes corrupted innocence as the core of social morality, and this false morality as a source of the aggressive tension which must ultimately destroy that society. In a play in which blindness becomes a dramatic metaphor for insight, Bond warns that 'it is so easy to subordinate justice to power, but when this happens power takes on the dynamics and dialectics of aggression, and then nothing is really changed'.
We're not playing Grandmother's fucking Footsteps, mate! Stay away, or I'll jump! Midnight at the Dartford Crossing; Roland's settled in for another thrilling night supervising the toll machines; Andrea's pretty sure she's come to kill herself. Neither of them wants to be there. Both think the other's crazy. Still, it's nice to have company. Two strangers on a bridge in the dead of night, a game of dominoes, and a value ready meal – HighTide Escalator playwright Vinay Patel's new play explores humanity, desperation and hope. Following on from the success of his debut play, True Brits, which premiered at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Free Fall was Vinay Patel's first full-length play to be staged in London.
It's chaotic - a bit of love, a bit of lust and there you are. We don't ask for life, we have it thrust upon us. Written by Shelagh Delaney when she was nineteen, A Taste of Honey is one of the great defining and taboo-breaking plays of the 1950s. When her mother, Helen, runs of with a car salesman, feisty teenager Jo takes up with a black sailor who promises to marry her before he heads for the seas, leaving her pregnant and alone. Art student Geoff moves in and assumes the role of surrogate parent until misguidedly, he sends for Helen and their unconventional setup unravels. A Taste of Honey offers an explosive celebration of the vulnerabilities and strengths of the female spirit in a deprived and restless world. Bursting with energy and daring, this exhilarating and angry depiction of harsh, working-class life in post-war Salford is shot through with love and humour, and infused with jazz. The play was first presented by Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal Stratford, London, on 27 May 1958.
Filumena is Eduardo de Filippo's best-known work and arguably his finest comedy, drenched in Neapolitan atmosphere and full of entanglements at once romantic and cynical. Set in the balmy heat of late 1940s Naples, Filumena Marturano lies on her deathbed waiting to marry Domenico Soriano, the man who has kept her as his mistress for twenty-five years. But no sooner has the priest completed the ceremony, than Filumena makes a miraculous recovery. As he reels in shock, Domenico discovers that this brilliant, iron-willed woman has a few more surprises for him. With masterful ambiguity, de Filippo depicts his characters with subtlety and balance: is Filumena a simple, illiterate woman who wants to create respectability for her children, or a ferine, opportunistic prostitute? And will Domenico, the selfish aged gigolo, learn to repent and accept his responsibility to his past and his family? Eduardo de Filippo was one of Italy's leading popular dramatists, a fearless social critic, a supreme man of the theatre, and a humane and compassionate writer. Exploring themes of motherhood, age and respectability, Filumena portrays de Filippo's trademark moral optimism and affection for his characters which underscores the drama's humour. This new translation by Tanya Ronder is contemporary, fluent and accessible, and tackles de Filippo's comedy with deftness and verve.