The Caretaker. By Harold Pinter. David Warner and Daniel Mays star in Harold Pinter’s dark comedy. The late author was considered before his death to be one of a handful of living British dramatists. And this play is considered by many critics to be his finest. The style and comedy employed are reminiscent of post-war European drama, especially the plays of Samuel Beckett. That said, this is a powerful and original play.
Aston rescues Davies an elderly, homeless man from a fight in a cafe and brings him home to recover. The tramp tells of the hiding he would have had from one of the cafe staff if Aston hadn’t intervened. The two men bond and the old man’s murky past is revealed. Aston offers Davies the job of caretaker of the dingy West London house, owned by Aston’s brother Mick yet Davies is reluctant to accept the job and the responsibility involved. Perhaps, Davies realises it is not just the building he might have to care-take.
An American Rose. By Charlotte Jones. The Kennedys were the most famous family in America when Joseph became American Ambassador in London. But daughter Rosemary’s behaviour began to cause the family increasing concern.
Award winning writer Charlotte Jones’ play is inspired by the lives of two of JFK’s sisters, ‘Rosemary’ Kennedy, who died in 2005, but underwent a prefrontal lobotomy aged 23 and Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy who married the heir to the Duke of Devonshire.
Aonach Hourn. By James Payne. Cormick lost his daughter eight years ago in an avalanche that struck the remote Highlands village of Rosscoille. But now he makes an impossible discovery – one of the missing has returned.
Collaborators. By John Hodge. Moscow, 1938: A dangerous place to have a sense of humour, even more so a sense of freedom. The writer Mikhail Bulgakov, living among the dissidents, stalked by secret police, has both. After 3 years rehearsal his new play about Moliere has just opened, and may be just about to close unless he accepts a commission from the secret police to write a play to celebrate Stalin’s sixtieth birthday. A poison chalice which he struggles to accept, until he receives an offer of help from the most unlikely quarter.
Based on historical fact, John Hodge’s blistering new play depicts a lethal game of cat and mouse as the writer loses himself in a macabre and disturbingly funny relationship with the omnipotent subject of his drama.
Deep Down And Dirty Rock ‘n’ Roll. By Mark Davies Markham. Ed (Suggs) and Carl (Burn Gorman) are two musicians in mid-life meltdown, who’ve been friends and rivals since primary school. Carl, the supposedly dead or missing poet of the band Lost Youth, has been in hiding for fourteen years. But with Lost Youth’s comeback tour and new album imminent maybe he’s about to be outed. Ed has been living the rock and roll life and he’s in serious debt. If Carl comes out of hiding Lost Youth are history, and so is he.
Suggs was a founder member of Madness, the ska revivalists who erupted out of Camden Town in the late ’70s and became one of the greatest pop groups of the ’80s.
Derailed. By Steve Chambers. After a whirlwind romance and Mediterranean marriage to chirpy cockney George Marie’s plans for a cosy Christmas a deux are derailed when he says the band’s schedule has changed. But at least it will allow her to visit her recently bereaved dad.
Desolation Island. By Patrick O’Brian. August, 1811. Jack Aubrey sets sail for Australia in his new command, HMS Leopard. His mission – to transport a group of convicts to Botany Bay, including a woman, Louisa Wogan, who has been spying for the Americans. Stephen Maturin joins Jack once again as ship’s surgeon – but his real mission is to watch Mrs Wogan. When a fever breaks out among the prisoners and crew, Jack decides to head for Recife – but he is pursued through the South Atlantic by a powerful Dutch warship.
The Return of the Native. By Thomas Hardy. Thomas Hardy’s tragic vision of a love struggling to overcome prejudice and rejection. Against the lowering background of Egdon Heath, fiery Eustacia Vye passes her days, wishing only for passionate love. She believes that her escape from Egdon lies in marriage to Clym Yeobright, home from Paris and discontented with his work there. But Clym wishes to return to the Egdon community; a desire which sets him in opposition to his wife and brings them both to despair.
Feminine Forever. By Caroline and David Stafford. Series about HRT and the joys of growing old disgracefully. The play is loosely based on some of the ideas and attitudes contained in a book, published in 1966 and powerfully influential at the time. The book, Feminine Forever by Robert A. Wilson MD, advanced the notion that the menopause is a disease – much like diabetes – for which modern science luckily has the cure: Hormone Replacement Therapy. Recent discoveries in the field of menopausal therapy, says Dr Robert, may serve to prolong for many women – and for the men who love and admire them – that wonderfully happy aura of love and adoration that full femininity inspires. Only 15% of women are able to grow old gracefully. The rest are suffering from a serious, painful and often crippling disease – the menopause.
Although this play is a gentle comedy – much in the manner of 2010’s highly successful The Year They Invented Sex (Drama Page 47) by the same authors – it explores and explodes the prevailing attitudes that underlay these views of women, their sexuality, and the roles ascribed to them (particularly in relation to age) – views that may not be quite as ‘historical’ as we might like to imagine.
ID. Dark thriller by Tajinder Singh Hayer about Asian identity in modern Britain. A confused Asian man walks into a Manchester police station and says he needs help because he thinks he’s going to kill. He can’t remember a thing, not even his name. An attention seeker? Maybe an amnesiac? Or is it something more complicated?
Insignificance. By Terry Johnson. Terry Johnson’s thought-provoking play about the meaning of celebrity in America and the perils atomic warfare, made into a film in 1985 by Nicholas Roeg. An actress, a baseball player, a professor and a senator (bearing striking similarities to Marilyn Monroe, Joe Di Maggio, Albert Einstein and Joseph McCarthy) are gradually drawn to the professor’s New York City hotel room in 1954.
The academic and the actress talk about the limits of their fame and are joined the next morning by the other members of the quartet, who have pressing questions for them.
Jallebies and Tea. By Bettina Gracias. A fantastical comedy starring Nina Wadia. Asha has recently arrived in London from India with her husband. She is shy, lonely and left in the flat all day long; a drastic contrast to the varied community, family and social life she had easy access to back home which has vanished almost overnight. She is scared to go out, and is intimidated by a noisy and racist neighbour, but her husband Ajay believes he is providing for her every need. Reluctant to hurt his feelings or seem ungrateful for all his hard work, she doesn’t complai.
Asha turns round one day in her kitchen to see Mahatma Gandhi standing there, who after all that fasting, is extremely hungry. In the 50 years since his death no one else has been considerate enough to provide him with a plaster for his gunshot wound, least of all one with a Pooh Bear pattern. Gandhi is fascinated too by modern domestic machinery. Soon Gandhi is joined by Paravati (Goddess Of Love) and SHIVa (Paravati’s husband). Asha finds herself cooking large quantities of food for this bizarre, bickering adopted family who remain invisible to her husband. It becomes increasingly difficult for her to explain where the money goes.
But Asha finds herself gaining new skills and confidence from the threesome and, having learnt, with them, to use the computer, she begins to make some social headway and eventually find a mutually happy life for herself and Ajay in London.
Murder Every Monday. By Pamela Branch. Clifford Flush and the other members of the Asterisk Club are forced to leave London in a hurry, and take up residence in the dilapidated Dankry Manor, where they establish themselves as ‘homicide consultants’. All goes well until someone is murdered on the premises. Mark Gatiss’s adaptation of Pamela Branch’s comedy.
Normal and Nat. By Debbie Oates. Nat’s life spirals out of control after she describes hearing voices in her head, until a sympathetic teacher helps to unlock the obsessive musical way in which Nat thinks.
Playing With Trains. By Stephen Poliakoff. Adaptation of Stephen Poliakoff’s RSC play about an entrepreneurial engineer and his relationship with his son and daughter. After making his fortune in the gramophone industry in the 1960s, Bill Galpin becomes a champion of inventors and sets out to change the conservative attitude of British industry. His ambition and drive lead him into difficult waters with his talented daughter and son.
Remains of the Day. By Kazuo Ishiguro. Dramatised by James Friel. Darlington Hall Based on the award-winning novel, this is a haunting tale of lost causes and lost love. It is a celebrated evocation of life between the wars in a great English country house, and the echoes of the violent upheavals spreading across Europe in the 1930s.
Silk – The Clerks’ Room. By Mick Collins. Jake thinks that barristers’ clerks and Italian-American gangsters are cut from the same cloth. They both demand loyalty, run people’s lives and if you want your business to survive, you have to pay them a chunk of your earnings. In the first part of a series on based on the TV drama Silk, Jake inadvertantly continues the analogy, when he finds himself in the firing line after double-crossing Head Clerk Billy.
As Head Clerk Billy Lamb (Neil Stuke) would have it known, the Clerks’ Room is the epicentre of everything that happens in a successful set of chambers like Shoe Lane. Barristers’ clerks act as their agents; they get the cases, distribute the work, and can make or break careers. To some, they’re a gang of wide-boys with an inflated sense of their own importance. To others, they’re an essential pillar that dates back to the beginnings of the Inns of Court. Now, as modern management supersedes tradition, their livelihoods may be under threat, and our drama reflects this through the ongoing battle between Head Clerk Billy Lamb and Practice Manager Harriet Hammond (Miranda Raison).
The three radio dramas centre around life in the Clerks’ Room, and each play focuses on the professional tribulations of the three Junior Clerks; Jake, Bethany and John.
The Euphio Question (R). By Kurt Vonnegut. When a professor creates a machine that can manufacture an overpowering feeling of happiness and bliss, intriguing moral and ethical dilemmas are raised.
Read by Stuart Milligan.
The Greater Good. By Justin Hopper. It is 1915 and the celebrated German chemist Fritz Haber turns to developing poison gas as a weapon for the German military. His wife and former colleague Clara is appalled and sets about trying to stop him.
Where’d You Go Bernadette. By Maria Semple. When 15 year old Bee wins perfect grades, she calls in her parents’ promise of a graduation present of ‘anything she wants’. This turns out to be a family trip to Antarctica – a prospect that will challenge her mother Bernadette’s agoraphobia and social reclusiveness.
The Wolf Border. (R) By Sarah Hall. Sarah Hall’s new novel is a compelling story about personal and political borders – about power, land, family and love. At its heart is Rachel Caine, tough, untouchable, an expert on wolves, and long estranged from her home county of Cumbria and her fiery mother and lost brother. Like the wolves she protects and champions, she is wary of humanity, happy in the untamed wilderness. Set against the dramatic and artfully drawn backdrops of the Lakeland fells and the towering ranges of Idaho, The Wolf Border explores issues of ownership and vested power, of re-wilding and of family as Rachel reaches a turning point in her life and learns that choice and change are possible.