Full Length Plays
The Monster: Two hikers arrive at the foot of a distant mountain said to be in the grip of a Monster residing at its peak. After encounters with the Poor, the Rich, the Mob, the Nomads and the Guardians, they meet the Monster, with tragic consequences.
The Woman: A mysterious old woman arrives at the camp of the desert tribe, The Ploths, with psychic skills, and gets drawn into war with the tribe’s ancient enemies, the Delts. The outcome is bitter, and surprising.
The Lords of the White and Grey Castles: (a play with music; adapted from a classroom reader) – the two castles exist on the edge of a strange, magical forest, which the inhabitants of the castles are forbidden to enter. The son from one castle, and the daughter from the other, disobey the injunction and undergo a number of uneasy adventures.
A Play to pay the Rent: A Children’s Theatre script, involving audience-participation.
Dreamer: A symbolic journey from unreal Meadow to a truer Marsh, though that goal not fully attained – all female cast. An adopted teenager discovers the truth about herself; falls into the hands of a prostitution ring and is auctioned off in an event that falls into chaos. Play then moves into dream within a dream, and subsequently emerges with the girl having to accept that reunion with her real mother unobtainable, whilst she can’t go back to being the adopted person she had previously lived as.
Death at the New Year: A word-symphony in four movements – a poetic journey of a disturbed young ex-soldier, who kills his bride at the height of their wedding celebration on the stroke of the New Year. Set in time when there was considerable ambivalence about what murders attracted the death-penalty; but more interesting for its mixture of various forms of dramatic poetry.
The Monster can also be used as the first play in a sequence called Strugnell’s World, intended to contain seven plays, of which two have yet to be (or never will be) written:
The City: Quest returns from the Mountain and unwillingly gets involved in the politics of an authoritarian City (his birthplace). He is put on trial and banished to the slum area outside the City walls.
And the Grot: He falls in with other banished riff-raff, and gradually gets drawn into becoming leader of the local non-violent resistance movement. He organises a mass protest, which fails, and falls foul of a more organised military resistance movement led by Indigo, who orders him to get out of the area on pain of death should he be found there in future.
The Wilderness: In his wanderings, in a series of nightmarish experiences, Quest meets up with several of the characters from The Monster, finds his character torn apart and eventually disintegrates, being taken over by that of Flute, his hiking companion. Quest then takes the form of the Monster.
Flute Below: Quest gets rid of Flute by pushing him down a hole deep into the underground (a touch of Orpheus). There the revived Flute meets the Fisties, undergoes an uneasy educational experience, is pushed to the Ebb where all the characters are stoned, is advised by a tongue-tied guru, and eventually comes back to “the upper air”, where all is meant to be brightness and light, but aware that many problems remain in his own journey to completeness.
Two other plays remain to be written.
The Zodiac Plays: intending a sequence of twelve plays, based on twelve pieces of Instant Theatre, working through the star signs, I have managed only to write one, tentatively seen as the Aries start to The Blacksmith’s Bride.
The series was intended to be played against the background of various Dorset landmarks. This first play achieved that aim, but (more importantly for my purposes) shifted the nature of playwriting decisively into the telling of the story through a succession of rituals, and a deliberate willingness to use the poetic form to break from the dominating realism of contemporary theatre.
Weird things happen throughout, and great liberties are taken with possibility. The entire play sequence (If/when eventually written) deals ostensibly with a year in the life of Doreen, a lighthouse keeper’s daughter, but, within that span, extends into several years and different “real” and “unreal” body forms. This first Zodiac Play was written and performed in 2001 – another thirteen years wasted so far in trying to take this second sequence further.
The Strugnell cycle – the first telling the story of Mary who has turned up in Flute Below, as a third character in Strugnell’s inner world, and the final one depicting Strugnell’s “outer” life that has created this inner dream, which the cycle has explored.
The hesitancy in writing the last two plays (lasting thirty-eight years to date) reflects a deep uncertainty over the plausible shift from the break-up of the masculine into a more feminine-principled world (a pre-occupation that may turn out to be the central issue at work in all my playwriting). Another aspect of the duality in me is depicted in my awareness of the growing void between the collective and the individual, which the Strugnell plays have so far been unable to resolve.