A Week of Plays Not Football


This week I’ve been cracking on with some background reading for my next modules. (good student that I am 🙂 )

I’ve read a few plays that I’ve not read before;

  • Stoning Mary by Debbie Tucker Green
  • Serious Money by Caryl Churchill
  • The Entertainer by John Osbourne

Stoning Mary was extremely disappointing, the premise of having white actors portray a situation that Africans have had to endure sounded like a clever idea. I just found it lacking in any depth or real dramatic action / tension. It felt disjointed and I couldn’t identify with the characters, they seemed totally two-dimensional. Why was Mary stoned? Should I care? I imagine the idea of the play was that I would, I just could not connect with the characters or the situations.

Another thing that annoyed me, was she has lots of places in the script where the “script” says;

“Character Name :

Next Characters Name:

Character Name:”

Now what is that pretentious “scripting” about??? I don’t think its clever or funny to have that as “dialogue”.  It happens throughout the play. If she wants characters to look/act in certain ways but not say something, she can add that as stage directions/comments if she wants, rather than waste space with nothing. To me it came across as the writer trying to be “clever”, or perhaps she couldn’t think of anything to write?

I did like the way in some of the scenes she has another actor play the characters ego and speak their internal dialogue, it is those scenes that grabbed me. If this had been developed I’m sure I’d have got more from and into the play. I felt there was potential as I read it but it just never seemed to achieve it.

I’m not sure if I’ll have to read anymore of Debbie Tucker Green’s work for the unit, hopefully her other work isn’t like this. I’ll re-read this play as and when I need to for my module, perhaps a second reading will change my opinion – if it does I’ll let you know.

Next on to Caryl Churchill. She’s a legend but I’ve only ever read Top Girls which I enjoyed. Serious Money is a superb play,  I can;t believe this hasn’t been revived in the last year or so (perhaps it has??)  It’s so pertinent to the economic crisis we’re going through and is some of the best writing I’ve read. The whole of Act 2’s dialogue rhymes, which is a great achievement in itself, even more so because this is intelligent, hard-hitting and witty dialogue. This is a play I look forward to re-reading and perhaps one day being in. Her portrayal of the City Traders in the 80’s is spot on, and scarily prophetic.

Olivier as Archie

John Osbourne is another luminary, again I’ve only ever read one of his plays previously, the ground breaking Look Back in Anger that changed everything back in 1956. That’s a play I’ve studied and referred back to many times over my course, so it was marvelous to get the opportunity to read some more of his work. I have to say I enjoyed The Entertainer more than I did Look Back in Anger. Partly due to my own interest in Music Hall, but again, his writing is just spot on, the pacing was great, I found it a real page turner. His character of Archie, is easily as memorable as Jimmy Porter from Look Back in Anger, I’d have loved to see Olivier performing the role of Archie when this was originally put on. As Archie deals with his self delusion, demons and self destruction I was genuinely moved. There is a film version with Olivier in, I’ll have to make do with that. I’ll also keep my eyes out for any productions of this on locally.

So they were this weeks reading. 2 out of three isn’t bad! I’m not expecting to enjoy everything I read or study on the course (hell I had to study an opera in one module – urghh!), as said on previous occasions, it’s great to be stretched and pushed outside my comfort zone and to experience new writers and plays.

There are several others to read over the next few days, I’m especially looking forward to reading Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth as I’ve not had the opportunity to see that when it was in London. My thoughts will be on here soon.


3 thoughts on “A Week of Plays Not Football

  1. I’m holding off reading the plays until I start the course, so that I can read them in context, plus, I like to spend some of the Summer ploughing through some non-course-related books.

    Haven’t read Stoning Mary, but I did go and see Random the other week, and would strongly recommend it. It’s on tour (studio spaces) and ends up at the Young Vic. I’m expecting that having seen her work will give me more of an insight into how Stoning Mary would be produced when I do get to read it.

    Serious Money was revived at Birmingham Rep about a year ago – and was both pertinent and relevant. And to continue the shout out for the provinces, B’ham Rep has also just done Noises Off, and Leicester’s Curve is doing Friel’s Translations (and Molly Sweeney) in December.

  2. I did get to see Jerusalem just before the study weekend. I was disappointed. Lots of good things but they did not seem to me to make a whole. I shall be interested to read what you think.

  3. Thanks for the comments.

    Anna, I’ll be interested to know your views as you progress through the module. Thanks for the note on Random, I’ll see if I can catch it on tour.
    Sounds like you have a good selection of things on near you which is great.

    Jolyon ; I’ll let you know what I think of Jerusalem.

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