Composers and their stage works 


The Prodigal

Drama: Jack Richardson.
10 men, 5 women. Multiple

A retelling of the Greek legend of Orestes; this is an attack on the senselessness of war. This Orestes is an indifferent man, completely unsympathetic to his father, Agamemnon, and his warlike ambitions. Unlike his sister, Electra, Orestes has no burning desire for vengeance when Clytemnestra and Aegisthus murder Agamemnon. He freely accepts his banishment to Athens with his friend, Phylades, and there falls in love and is about to wed Athenian. The fates, however, have ordained that Orestes play the hero and avenge his father's death and so unwillingly yet hopeless, he becomes what is decreed.

The Prodigious Snob

Comedy. Molière. Adapted from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Miles Malleson. Music by John Hotchkis
M 16 (young, middle-age) F6 (young, middle-age). A room in Paris.

Monsieur Jourdain, the wealthy merchant, is prepared to suffer any indignity provided it is inflicted by someone of high enough quality. He refuses to allow his daughter to marry except into the nobility. In the end he is made the victim of a practical joke, as the result of which he unwittingly takes part in the marriage of his daughter to the man of her choice. Period 1670
ISBN 0 573 01359 4


Play. Doug Lucie
M6 (21-30s) F2 (20, 33). A living-room.

The play is set in the London home of Will, a handsome, well educated television-documentary researcher, and his attractive, social activist wife, Ronee, who runs a community centre, in South London. Anxious to match his wife's liberal concerns, Will has taken over most of the household chores and has formed a male consciousness-raising group whose principal interest seems to be a close examination of pornography. Ronee, however, is now involved with a female lover, and her unwillingness to expand the relationship to a ménage à trois (as Will would like) has driven a wedge between husband and wife. Further complications arise when Ronee brings home a young battered wife, Ange, whose brutish young husband soon discovers her whereabouts and tries, by force, to take her home. Also in and out of the action are the rather pathetic Oliver, who is shattered by the sudden absence of his live-in lover, Martin; a young barman named Bruce (who is Martin's new boyfriend); and Will and Ronee's boarder, Mark, a Fleet Street gutter journalist who delights in tasteless jokes and imagines himself to be sexually irresistible. Filled with bitterly funny repartee, and sudden bouts of anger and violence, it is the uneasy relationship between these characters which forms the disturbing, but revealing, heart of the play - and, when all pretences are stripped away, demonstrates how little these middle-class activists are able to bring order to their own lives, much less to the larger society in which they are foundering.
ISBN: 0-8222-0920-9

The Promise

Play. Aleksei Arbuzov. Translated by Ariadne Nicolaeff.
2 men (17), 1 woman (15). Interior, with variations.

The play opens during the three-year siege of Leningrad, as three young people - two boys and a girl - find shelter together and establish a triangular relationship. The girl wants to be a doctor. One of the boys dreams of becoming a poet, while the other has decided to be an engineer so that he may build bridges. The intricacies of the triangle, the rising and falling of their hopes for each other and themselves, over the next 17 years provide the drama of the play. Arbuzov has constructed his work simply but soundly; the framework is broad and flexible, allowing the action to evolve organically. There is no attempt to establish dominant symbolic overtones in the writing, and, thankfully, this is mirrored in the production; the playwright is concerned with the literal situation, its obvious reality, and any attempt to place the work within a rigid symbolic structure would have strangled it.
ISBN: 0-8222-0921-7

Psychpathia Sexualis

Comedy. John Patrick Shanley.
3 men, 2 women. Unit Set.

Arthur, an obscure young painter struggling in the, art world of Manhattan, announces to his self-satisfied friend, Howard, that he is engaged to be married. To whom? asks Howard. The answer is to Lucille, a powerful, attractive, no-nonsense Texas socialite, a kind of wealthy Annie Oakley. But, Arthur confides to Howard, there are three problems: 1. Arthur is a fetishist and Lucille doesn't know. He cannot make love without being in proximity to his father's argyle socks. 2. Arthur's psychiatrist, Dr. Block, unable to cure Arthur of his fetish, has stolen said socks. 3. Arthur's wedding night is fast approaching and he needs his socks back Howard vows to retrieve his friend's socks from the wily Dr. Block This brilliant if unconventional shrink proceeds to reduce Howard to a sniveling wreck. We finally meet the robust Lucille, in her wedding dress, as her friend Ellie (Howard's wife) blurts out all the bad news. At this point, Arthur enters and begs Lucilles forgiveness, which he obtains. Lucille resolves to go to this Block character and rescue her man's socks. Lucille and Dr. Block fight it out for the soul and the socks of Arthur. Lucille wipes the floor with the clever psychiatrist. Her secret weapon? A hearty store of common sense and razor-sharp country wit. Block finally resorts to trying to seduce her. When she cries help, Arthur and Howard burst in and save her. Arthur reclaims his socks (as each man must), and he and Lucille are married.
ISBN: 0-8222-1615-9


Comedy. Nicky Silver.
3 men, 2 women. Interior.

An absurdist black comedy about the demise of the Duncan family, and, by extension, the species. Emma Duncan, a hypochondriac with memory problems, and her orphaned fiancé, Tommy, confront her mother, Grace, with the news of their intended marriage. Disapproving at first, Grace acquiesces and puts Tommy to work as a maid. Shortly after, Grace's son, Todd, returns home and announces he has AIDS which sets off a frenzy of denial-spurred activity. The father, Arthur Duncan, reaches out to his son who is more interested in assembling the dinosaur bones he discovers in the back yard. As the wedding approaches, Tommy falls in love with Todd and when confronted with this news, Emma goes quite spontaneously deaf. It is only during a frenzied wedding rehearsal, after Tommy is informed he's HIV positive and Emma shoots herself with a gun given to her by her brother as a wedding gift, does the possibility that Todd is destroying his family rear it's head. As winter descends, the bottom falls out of the farce and the tone is replaced with a more ironic one. Tommy has died (although he's not been buried as "the ground is too hard"), Grace's glamour has been replaced with an alcoholic haze, and Arthur cannot remember that Emma has died. Only Todd remains unchanged. In a final manipulation, Todd accuses Arthur of being responsible for Emmâs death, and provokes his father into attacking him. Grace has no choice but to banish Arthur from the house and into what now seems a lifeless tundra outdoors. Left alone with his mother, Todd pours her drink after drink as the months pass, until she too, at last, is dead. Finally, as Todd embraces his sister's ghost, we see the dinosaur skeleton, now complete. No one knows why the dinosaurs lived, or died, Todd told his mother. He suggests the possibility that their end was the natural order of things "and no tragedy. Or disease. Or God."
ISBN: 0-8222-1375-3

A Public Mischief

Kenneth Horne : Comedy
4M 4F Interior set

Temporarily disenchanted with her husband Nicholas, Bridget is persuaded into running away with Mark. But Mark has expectations from a rich, fearsome aunt and cannot afford scandal, so arranges for Bridget's disappearance to look like a bathing accident. At first, the police seem to be taken in by this, but the added disappearance of Nicholas, who has set off from his flat to find Bridget, leads them to suspect him of Bridget's murder and a nationwide manhunt ensues. Meanwhile, Nicholas has traced Bridget and Mark to a guesthouse in Bath where the aunt lives. Much of the comedy stems from the situation which is created when Nicholas takes a room under a false name and settles down to recover his wife.

Pull the Other One

Farce. Norman Robbins
M4 (35, 65, elderly) F3 (18, 35, 60). A living-room.

When Albert's mother-in-law Boadicea discovers a letter written to Albert from his friend Hilary she refuses to believe it is perfectly innocent or that Hilary is a man. Along comes Hilary in blonde wig and evening dress straight from his drag act at the local pub. Further disasters ensue as Hilary attempts to make amends for the trouble he has caused and tries to help Albert.
ISBN 0 573 11358 0

Punch and Judy

Comedy. Bill Svanoe.
3 women. Interior.

Marina Cliff, a Hungarian-Swiss beauty who is recently divorced from her real estate billionaire husband, decides she wants to write a novel to amuse herself. She hires Carol Spearman, a smart, reclusive, cynical, witty, failed writer, to work with her. Marina is still emotionally tied to her ex-husband and guarantees a loan for him. Carol is in a push-me, pull-me relationship with a married man for twenty years and allows him to treat her badly. At the beginning, the two women dislike each other and seem to have nothing in common. They spar, test, betray and manipulate each other, yet come to an uneasy truce and agree to continue working together. But by the end of Act One, Marina loses all her money to her ex, and Carol's boyfriend drops dead. Now the two women have more in common than they realize. In Act Two, Marina and Carol, dealing with their losses are drawn together and apart. Carol's book is a huge success, and at first Marina is furious, but comes around and tries to help Carol with her grief. Carol, having trouble with intimacy, tries to push her away, but the two women struggle through and find a budding, though tenuous, friendship. Realizing they can work together, Carol confronts Marinâs ex-husband to get back the money he's lost. Intertwined in their relationship and activities is Melody Charm, Marinâs ex-husband's current girlfriend, who seems like a `bimbo , but who is really a smart woman who knows better than Carol or Marina how to get the man she wants.
ISBN: 0-8222-1504-7

Purple Dust

Comedy. Sean O'Casey.
11 men, 3 women. Interior.

Two English financiers, Stoke and Poges, have acquired an old Irish Tudor mansion and have romantic plans to refurbish it and install themselves like country squires. They bring their mistresses to the house and indulge in pastoral pursuits, like country dancing, much to the amusement of the shrewd local workmen who are repairing the dilapidated building. Gradually their aspirations begin to fade in the face of rural discomforts and the increasing inefficiency of their Irish workforce, who are by stages reducing their dreamhouse to a pile of `purple dust'. A garden roller demolishes a wall, antique furniture is destroyed, a horse is shot in the hall and the foreman rides off with Stoke's mistress. The two Englishmen have totally failed to understand the Irish mentality which finally defeats them and they are forced to escape back to England as floodwaters engulf the house and their mistresses run off with their money to their Irish lovers.
ISBN: 0-8222-0922-5

Pvt Wars

James McLure : Comedy
3M Exterior set

A full-length version of a short play dealing with three Vietnam veterans who are recuperating in an Army hospital, the play combines humour and compassion with uncompromising honesty as it follows the irreverent doings of its exceptionally engaging characters. The Three GIs while aware their time on the terrace of the hospital. Gately, a hillbilly, fiddles compulsively with a disembowelled radio: Silvio, a street-wise big-city type is addicted the flashing (even though his sex organs have suffered irremediable battle damage): while Natwick, a prissy rich kid from Long Island writes letters to his mother telling her how much he wants to become a close friend of Gately while failing to mention how actively Silvio dislikes him. Comprised of a series of brief scenes the play creates a meaningful mosaic as the three men tease, torment, entertain, exasperate and, on occasions, console each other.
ISBN: 0 8222 0925 X