I’ve started off PED (Play Every Day) with some plays I’ve had sat on my bookshelf for a long time which I just haven’t got around to reading. Most of the time is because they’re in collections of plays by the same writer, and I only used one at the time for a monologue or performance etc. This explains why a lot of the plays I am reading are by the same author (I am currently not doing well financially so cannot buy new ones and am waiting before I get back to London to borrow some from the library!). If you’ve read any of these plays or have any suggestions for what I should read next then comment below or tweet me!
1 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Okay, I was in a production of AMND when I was 10, and studied it briefly at A-Level so it’s not like I was reading it for the first time, but this year has definitely sparked my interest back in Dream. I’ve seen two productions of it this year – one at the Globe and the other aired on the BBC – as well being in a production of it myself this summer, and I’m definitely reconnecting with the play again. It’s so interesting because it’s most definitely a lot darker than people think – Oberon, Demetrius, and Theseus are actually pretty vile, and the ending is left so ambiguous. Does Helena really get her happy ending marrying Demetrius when he is only in love with her because he’s been put under a spell? It’s a play about the human condition, for sure, and how our ideals of love aren’t always the best to aspire too. However, it’s also incredibly funny! The Mechanicals definitely brighten up the show, and depending on how the Titania x Bottom scene is played, that can also be hilarious, too.
If you’re wanting to get into Shakespeare but don’t know where to start, I would recommend this as it’s very funny and lighthearted (at a glance), and has many iconic scenes and characters you will recognise. The plot can get a little confusing at times, but that’s remedied by the entertainment of it all. There are also lots of adaptations to watch, too, which are accessible and visual.
2 –An Intervention by Mike Bartlett
I love the way this play is written, with two characters called only A and B, with no specification about their age, gender, or race. There’s so much flexibility with this and it definitely got my creative mind flowing! The play revolves around two friends who begin to have tensions between them due to both political reasons and the age-old “growing apart” aspect of friendships. The double-act style of the relationship; B was the straight-man and A the energetic fool reminded me of a few of my friendships, and their back-and-forth between each other felt very real, even on the page. The dialogue is quick, funny, but real, and the ending left me shocked and quite struck with the image it conjured. This play is about the lasting of friendship, but also could just as easily be about the bonds between countries.
3 – Oleanna by David Mamet
It’s not that I didn’t like this play, but it was a struggle to read; I can see it being more powerful on stage. It’s essentially a play about the struggle between the sexes, old and young, student and teacher, all with the claim of sexual harrassment hanging over the entire thing. Maybe because I read it that the harassment hadn’t happened that I kind of checked out of it? Sentences were left largely unfinished, which frustrated me as I felt I wasn’t getting anything out of it, too.
4 – All My Sons by Arthur Miller
I’ve read (and loved) two of Miller’s works before – The Crucible and A View From the Bridge. The format of this is similar, but still striking. A wider historical/social event is the framing of the play before zooming in on a smaller family or community’s reaction and involvement, which usually culminates in the head of the family (a male) being put in the boiling pot and -probably – dying. Though similar, it still did the job. Miller is a fantastic playwright.
5 – Pond Life by Richard Cameron
I read this over two sittings on a train journey (when am I not on a train?). I can honestly say it didn’t have any impact on me whatsoever. I felt kind of bored reading it, waiting for a climax or something interesting to happen. The entire play is set around a northern community by a pond (unsurprisingly), and the lives of the youth who live there. The only character I felt any kind of interest in was Pogo, an eighteen-year-old who is mentally ill. Her character had some captivating lines and transitions. I think because this is such an ensemble piece with lots of things going on but not being seen through, it’s open-ended and hard to clearly define who the “lead” character is.
6 & 7 – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (parts 1 and 2) by J.K.Rowling
I have no idea what to say. Maybe I should do a full (no-spoiler! #KeepTheSecrets) blog post about my thoughts? I am a massive Potterhead – ask anyone who knows me! – but I was left wanting a bit more. I loved the new characters though and I read it very quickly, it was very eays to read and I am very excited to be seeing it on stage in October.