Many thanks to Dick L for contributions to this page.
Ancient Greek. By Oliver Emanuel. Sony nominated writer, Oliver Emanuel’s sharp contemporary drama about a sixth-former who decides to take a stand. Since Christmas, strange words have been appearing all over the school – on the walls of the maths department, across the windows of the gym, scratched into the deputy head’s Mondeo. A protest of sorts it would seem. Apparently written in Ancient Greek. On the last day of school, Alex King walks into Head’s office and admits that the work is all his. He’s one of the brightest students in the school. And now he wants his chance to speak.
Beyond the Borders. By Mike Walker. 1950, much of Europe still lies in ruins from the Second World War. Germany is crushed and the Allies are divided about allowing the country to rebuild in the face of a growing Soviet threat. Jean Monnet is charged with planning the reconstruction of France. Appalled by the devastation of two world wars, he is a highly efficient technocrat and a thinker who knows how to influence politicians. For years he has believed in European collaboration to secure a peaceful and prosperous future. Monnet’s vision is for a radical realignment of Europe, not by one nation asserting itself over another, but by negotiation, integration and ultimately, through political and economic unification. Monnet knows he has to move swiftly. Within days the Allies will decide the future of Germany at a conference in London. He gathers a small group in his cottage outside Paris to thrash out a revolutionary plan to bring the coal and steel industries of France and Germany together. Working with the Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, Monnet plots how far to press his idea. His grand vision of unification remains in the background – the focus is on the practicalities of getting the two nations on board. Monnet’s team produces 9 drafts, arguing intensely about what can be achieved and how it should be implemented. With a radical plan agreed, Schuman dispatches a secret envoy to the German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer to bring him on board. When on 9th May Schuman outlines the plan that bears his name and leads to the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community, many in the room are taken aback at its boldness, but few predict how the Schuman Declaration will become the founding document for the European Union, and a catalyst for those pursuing Monnet’s vision of a United States of Europe.
Against the Grain. By Charlotte Greig. Gemma, a promising young journalist, is sent to interview former restaurateur, Milo Markhov, whose glossy new cookery book, Against the Grain, is the latest publishing sensation. Milo has retired to the Perigord where he spends his time preparing experimental dishes in his search for the most pleasurable taste sensations. Gemma’s disturbing experiences at the house of the reclusive chef lead her to contemplate a whole new way life.
Burning Both Ends – When Oliver Reed Met Keith Moon. By Sean Pertwee and Arthur Darvill. Burning Both Ends, starring Sean Pertwee as Oliver Reed, and Arthur Darvill as Keith Moon. Burning Both Ends tells the story of one of the most infamous, unexpected and touching of friendships between two icons of the 1970s, Oliver Reed and Keith Moon. In the mid-1970s, Oliver was an international movie star, and Keith was a rock n’roll legend, the drummer for rock band, The Who. Both were famous for their partying and boozing, as well as their undeniable talents. Mercurial and unpredictable, both men were at the top of their game – but the top can be a very lonely place. Then they met, on the film set of The Who’s epic rock opera, Tommy. What followed was a revelation – in each other they found a true kindred spirit, their own shadow image. This is a story of madness and mayhem, antics and adventures, but also of love and loss – the dangerous, dazzling brilliance of two unbridled spirits connecting, but then the huge pain when one of them dies prematurely. Recounting the electrifying “bruv-affair” between these two iconic figures, Burning Both Ends is the story of two men who found in each other a true friend, and who loved each other as fiercely as they partied…
Burning Up. By Rebecca Lenkiewicz. It’s Monday 5th December, and Maisie steps out of a Secure Children’s Centre. She’s had an extraordinary year – she turned fifteen, met the love of her life, and then spent four months in detention following the London riots. Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s hard-hitting drama tells her story.
Choice of Straws. By ER Braithwaite. Dramatisation by Roy Williams of the novel by ER Braithwaite. 1960, London’s East End: twins Jack and Dave Bennett are a happy-go-lucky, rootless pair. If they do occasionally rough-up a black guy it’s just a game to them – until a victim in Whitechapel fights back and Dave pulls a knife.
To Sir With Love and Paid Servant by ER Braithwaite can be found on Drama Page 14.
Christmas Eve. By Adam Beeson. Comic drama based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol. As the snow falls on Christmas Eve in the Ukrainian village of Dikanka, the local witch is in league with a devil to steal the moon and stars. Meanwhile, the witch’s son goes on a magical night flight to St Petersburg to borrow a pair of shoes from Catherine the Great.
Down and Out in Auchangaish. By BAFTA-winning writer, Donna Franceschild. Cal’s about to turn eighteen and he’s sleeping rough. Ziggy keeps setting fire to his hotel. And Gino, the local chip shop owner, wants to help everyone. Everyone except his wife, that is. A gentle comedy about the love that fire-fighting brings to a remote Highland village.
Four by Jimmie Chinn
01: Looks Like Rain. Following their mother’s funeral, Joyce and Stan unearth some dodgy family secrets.
02: Looks Like Rain Again. After their mother’s funeral, the return of a missing brother stirs up big trouble.
03: Rain on the Just. Dark family secrets and a severe case of sibling rivalry lead to murder.
04: Perfect Timing. A struggling music hall duo try to make a decent fist of a cruise ship booking.
The title of this collection of four plays was originally ‘Jimmie Chin’.
The Benefit of Time. Terri-Ann Brumby’s comedy about a young woman who believes she was once Anne Boleyn. Debbie Green is dull. Debbie Green is plain. Debbie Green works in Human Resources, where she has few friends, and lives a very mundane existence. That is, until she starts going to visit a hypnotist, who claims to be able to explore people’s past lives. And guess what? Debbie, apparently, has had a very eventful past life – she was once Anne Boleyn. Or so Donald Cruikshank her hypnotist excitedly confirms. He is, of course, a charlatan, and he’s gulling her. Or is he? Is she gulling him? As the sessions progress, and Debbie starts doing an office round-robin e-mail of her experiences, her popularity at work increases dramatically, as do her career prospects. In our celebrity-fixated world, what better celebrity to conjure up – and then actually be – than a famous figure of history? And as Debbie climbs that greasy pole to success and high status, she leaves a trail of human devastation in her wake.
The Bid. By Matthew Solon. After five years of planning and an 18-month campaign to win votes costing more than £15m, England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup ended in humiliation in front of millions of TV viewers around the world. Exactly a year after FIFA President Sepp Blatter walked onto the stage at the Messe Centre in Zurich and revealed that Russia would be hosting the 2018 World Cup, this drama tells the behind-the-scenes story of what happened in Zurich in the days leading up to the announcement on 2nd December 2010. Focusing on the England bid team – which included David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham – the drama is based on interviews with many of those who were there, and on published material, and uses actors to play all the key characters. This is a gripping story of hope, broken promises and disappointment – a compelling and entertaining insight into the business behind the game.
This drama was first aired in 2012, three years before FIFA came under investigation for corruption.
The Distant Echo. By Val Mcdermid. Four students stumble upon the body of a dead girl, in the snow, late one night. Twenty-five years later the police mount a cold case review of the unsolved case, and the friends finally have an opportunity to clear their names once and for all. However, when one of them dies in a suspicious house fire, and another in a burglary gone bad, it seems someone is still pursuing their own brand of justice. If the remaining two are to avoid becoming the next victims they need to find out what really happened all those years ago.
The Gate of Angels. By Penelope Fitzgerald, dramatised by Yvonne Antrobus. Penelope Fitzgerald’s 1990 novel, set in Edwardian London and Cambridge, exploring love, religion, physics and the random nature of chance.
The Hamster. By Anders Lustgarten. The Hamster is a dark comedy inspired by an observation made by the New Economics Foundation; a Hamster doubles in weight every week until maturity, after which its growth slows down. If it were to continue growing at that rate it would reach nine billion tonnes by its first birthday. This is why growth, in nature, is limited – and yet we are told that economic growth should continue for ever and ever.
The Hireling. By L.P.Hartley. In this 1957 thriller ex-Sergeant Stephen Leadbitter, raised from an unhappy working class childhood between the wars, is on a peacetime mission to business success as a chauffeur and car for hire. He uniformly despises his clients, especially the ladies, until the young, widowed, naive and immensely rich Lady Franklin hires him to take her on trips to cathedrals which she had visited with her late husband. Lady Franklin has been in mourning for her late husband ‘a man considerably older than her and an invalid’ for two years, and is finding it impossible to return to normal life. In the confines of the car, and in search of a cure for her depression, she shares her burden with him. He obliges with a story of his own, a fiction, which grows, monster-like, to plague the inventor. Two alien classes are put on a collision course, causing salvation or destruction to all involved, from the epicentre of an unexpected burst of love.
Lennox. (R) By Craig Russell. Shady private investigator Lennox is a hard man in a hard city at a hard time: Glasgow, 1953, where the war may be over but the battle for the streets is just beginning. It’s a place where only the toughest and most ruthless survive. The McGahern twins were on the way up until Tam, the brains of the outfit, opened his door to find two hitmen pointing shotguns at him. The Three Kings, the crime lords who run Glasgow’s underworld, all deny ordering the hit, so Tam’s brother Frankie turns to Lennox to find out who killed his twin. Lennox refuses. Later that night, Frankie’s body is discovered on the road, his head mashed to pulp, and Lennox finds himself in the frame for murder. The only way of proving his innocence is to solve the crime – but he’ll have to dodge men more deadly than Glasgow’s crime bosses before he gets any answers. Craig Russell combines atmosphere, action and a pitch-black sense of humour with an intelligent and complex character who is a product of the recent war he lived through. The first in a unique and memorable crime series, Lennox is gritty, compelling, and unashamedly neo-Noir.
Our Country’s Good. By Thomas Keneally. Timberlake Wertenbaker’s stage play was adapted from Thomas Keneally’s novel, ‘The Playmaker’. It tells the true story of Lieutenant Ralph Clark’s attempts to put on a production of George Farquhar’s ‘The Recruiting Officer’ using a cast of convicts. The play met with high praise when it was first staged at The Royal Court and the play argues eloquently for the redemptive power of theatre. Many of the arguments are still current today as we debate how best to rehabilitate prisoners. At the heart of the play is its language; Wertenbaker celebrates the beauty of language in the slang of the criminal classes and the poetry of the play but she also looks at how language is used as an instrument of power.
William And Mary. In William And Mary we meet Mary Pearl, who thinks she’s finally free of William, the tyrannical husband who forbade her all life’s pleasures, when he dies after a short illness. She subsequently learns, however, that – hoping to cheat the grave – he allowed a scientist to remove his brain and attach it to a life support system. This gives her the opportunity to get her own back.
Parson’s Pleasure. In Parson’s Pleasure we meet Cyril Boggis, an unscrupulous antiques dealer, who charms his way into people’s homes disguised as a simple parson, hoping to pick up neglected treasures for a song. One bright, Sunday afternoon however, all does not go according to plan when, in the home of farmer Rummins, he discovers a priceless Chippendale commode.
Royal Jelly. In Royal Jelly we meet bee keeper Albert Taylor and his wife Mabel. Worried that their newborn daughter isn’t eating properly, Albert starts giving her royal jelly – a highly nutritious substance fed by bees to the larvae of their queens. The baby starts to put on weight. But Mabel begins to notice other changes too.
Mrs Bixby And The Colonel’s Coat. With Kerry Shale and Lorelei King. In Mrs Bixby & The Colonel’s Coat, Mrs Bixby – wife of a dull, New York dentist – is having an affair with a wealthy playboy known as the Colonel. When he decides to end their relationship, the Colonel gives her a mink coat as a keepsake. Realizing that her husband will wonder where she acquired such an expensive gift, Mrs Bixby devises an ingenious plan to explain it away.
The Landlady. The landlady, who inhabits a sitting room filled with stuffed animals, is welcoming but odd. Wondering if he’s her only guest, Billy checks the register and sees two strangely familiar names. Taking tea with her later, Billy suddenly remembers reading in the papers that both her former guests disappeared in mysterious circumstances. The landlady tells Billy that, like him, each was a beautiful young man whom she didn’t want to leave.
Close The Coalhouse Door. Close the Coalhouse Door. By Alan Plater. With songs by Alex Glasgow. Based on the stories of Sid Chaplin, with additional material by Lee Hall. Northern Stage and Live Theatre’s production of the celebrated sixties political docudrama. An exhilaratingly furious, funny and ultimately moving ride through the strikes, victories and frustrations of British mining history, the play captures the political anger and fight for justice of ordinary people from the formation of the first Unions in 1831. At its heart beats the joyous, soulful music of Alex Glasgow, inspired by the anthems of working people.
Sid Chaplin’s stories outline all the major strikes, victories and disappointments in British mining history from the formation of the first unions in 1830s all the way through to the 1960s. Alan Plater uses the dramatic device of a Geordie family celebration as a framework to tell this history whilst their own story unfolds in 1968. One son, Frank, has left behind the mines to study at university, while his brother John is a dissatisfied pitman. Frank brings home his liberated girlfriend free-spirited student Ruth who threatens to tear them apart in the central love story.
“The terrible thing about history,” said Orwell, “is how few names of its slaves have been preserved. Tenderly and furiously ‘Close the Coalhouse Door’ does a little to redress that injustice” – The Observer.
Sunset Song. By Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Gerda Stevenson’s dramatisation of the 1932 novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, set in north-east Scotland before and during the First World War. Chris Guthrie is torn between her love of the land and her ambition to become a teacher. As Chris’ domineering father struggles with the harshness of the land, her mother’s fear of childbirth leads her to despair.