Afore Night Come

 

 

Publication:

Penguin, 1963:New English Dramatists series,vol.7; no longer in print.

Oberon Books, 2001:ISBN 1 84002 239 6.

In German translation as Vor der Nacht: Radikalisches Theater, Kiepenheuer und Witsch, Cologne, 1968.

In Italian as Primo che venga la notte: in the theatre journal Sipario, (?)1968.

 

 

 

           

 

'But Jesus loves me. He loves us all...' Last moments before the murder. Peter McEnery as Johnny Hobnails; Gerry Duggan as Roche. Background, left to right: Joe Gibbons (Albert), Henley Thomas (Jeff), Henry Woolf (Tiny). Foreground: David Warner (Jim), Timothy West (Ginger). RSC Experimental Season, Arts Theatre, London, June 1962: dir. Clifford Williams. 

September 1960. Where industrial Birmingham meets rural Worcestershire, seasonal labourers gather at a Bromsgrove fruit-farm for the pear harvest. Among them, a garrulous and useless old Irish vagrant becomes the butt of their bitter humour, then of their more dangerous frustrations and suppressed murderous hatreds. At the climax, the documentary texture is ripped open, exposing an atavistic horror at work beneath.

 

Critically located at the time (if at all) as a 'slice-of-life play' that shades over into Artaudian 'Theatre of Cruelty'.

 

Written 1960. First produced: Royal Shakespeare Company, Arts Theatre Experimental Season, London, June 1962. On its first night, at the play's transgressive climax the audience interrupted the performance and all but ended my theatrical career there and then. For an account of that occasion, see Commentary. First production revived, Aldwych Theatre, London, 1964. (In repertory with The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter, Beckett's Endgame and Peter Weiss' Marat/Sade. A hostile impresario dubbed this the 'Dirty Play Season', and by a perverted vagary of English law the Licensee of the theatre was brought to court.)

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