Theatre Script Downloads

Icon-Theatre-150There are plenty of well-known places to download movie scripts online, the best known of which is the Internet Movie Script Database, but there the resources for plays is much more limited, even for those in the public domain.

So, from Shakespeare to George Bernard Shaw to more contemporary playwrights, visit these sites.

  • ReadBookOnline.net: Here you can read plays by Chekhov, Thomas Hardy, Ben Jonson, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and others.
  • Plays: Read PygmalionUncle Vanya or The Playboy of the Western World here.
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: MIT has made available all of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, and histories.
  • Plays Online: This site catalogs “all the plays [they] know about that are available in full text versions online for free.”
  • ProPlay: This site has children’s plays, comedies, dramas and musicals.

Top Ten List of Things 2013

It’s the end of the year and everyone is doing best of year lists; books, films, music, footwear, memes, you name it, it’s on a list somewhere. So, I’ve decided to do one of my own, a list of the top 10 favourite things of 2013. (It was either this or a top 10 list of top 10 lists)

  1. Gravity in the Imax – I’ll start, not just with a movie, but with a cinema experience. I cannot remember being more thrilled, of experiencing a more fulfilling cinema experience than this. I have no idea whether Gravity will work anywhere near as well in 2D on my TV, I doubt it, but that moment will be unforgettable.
  2. Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories – 2013 had a lot of great music released, but it’s no great shock to anyone who has ever perused my Last.FM account that I was going to decide on RAM as my favourite album of the year.
  3. The Hour – I’d been recommended The Hour for a long time by a friend, but it was always a TV show that I’d eventually, maybe get around to. Well, I did get around to it, it was amazing and I’m gutted there won’t be a third season.
  4. London Screenwriters’ Festival – This was a game changer for me; the lessons I learnt, experiences I had and people I met have had a hugely positive effect on my writing, my confidence and, dare I say it, my life.
  5. Chic at Glastonbury – Oh, how they laughed. ‘Chic?’ they sniggered. ‘Well, they were okay back in the day I suppose, but they’re no Arctic Monkeys’. Indeed. Chic’s set was the best party at the best festival and I danced for an hour and a half solid.
  6. Saga – In a standout year for comics, this was nearly a close call. But the art, writing, excitement and emotional power of Saga easily dominates the field.
  7. The Sexy Lamp Test – Both in terms of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s alternative to the Bechdel Test, but also the fact that it was far and away the top post on my blog in 2013, with 5,854 views.
  8. Gizmo Love – After a less-than-stellar theatre experience, I sought out recommendations for theatre. I ended up in the wonderful New Diorama Theatre for Gizmo Love, a dark tale of obsession and writing. I’ll definitely be back to the New Diorama, currently in the shortlist for Fringe Theatre of the Year.
  9. London’s Southbank – You’d think I’d be tired of it by now, but I still have so many amazing memories of that stretch just south of the river, from Waterloo station to London Bridge.
  10. Friends – Yes, yes, I know this one is cheesy. But this year has been a year for friends being there for me, people becoming friends and spending time with friends. And that will never not be important to me.

Strangers on a Train: Theatre Review

Strangers on a Train

Strangers on a Train, Craig Warner‘s adaptation of Hitchcock’s ’51 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel was billed as a tightly scripted noir thriller of intrigue, adventure and deceit. This should have put the piece right up my street, ticked all my boxes and sent me home happy, even if it was average. I’m afraid to say that I didn’t leave the Gielgud Theatre happy.

I will say this, the staging was magnificent, and clearly a lot of money had been invested in it; I wonder if the cost of this might accelerate the financial decline and eventual cancellation of a production that was already discounting stalls seats two weeks after opening. Beyond that? Well, from here on in there’ll be mild spoilers and generally moaning, sorry.

Let me start off with noir, perhaps my favourite of genres, or tones of genre, irregardless of whether the execution is classic, like The Big Sleep, adapted like in the cyberpunk genre or modernised as with Brick. There was no a single element of noir visible on stage last night, despite that being the lure dangled beneath my gaping maw. (Quentin Letts described Strangers as being ‘as noir as a triple espresso‘; trust me when I say that I know both, and it was neither.) What they did have was all their sets and clothes and imagery in monochrome, which really isn’t the same thing. The idea was to create the feel of a black and white movie, but ended up coming across as ham-fisted and trite. Though perhaps that was done to complement the ham-fisted and trite overacting on display? The overuse of the monochromatic even extended to an overuse and misrepresentation of Plato’s Chariot Allegory.

Storywise, the tale featured overdone exposition, spending big chunks of time reiterating to characters what the audience, and in some case the characters, already knew. I know it was always meant to be the case that there were no innocents in Strangers, but not only were we robbed of a clear protagonist, I felt not a shred of sympathy for either of them, no matter how often the script told me to feel sorry for someone. The whole tone seemed off: for a thriller there were times I was bored; the lines that were supposed to be poignantly tragic got laughs; instead of tension we got clownish capering.

Okay, I’m glad I’ve got all that off my chest, I really do feel better for it. I enjoy the theatre, and even something you don’t enjoy can be interesting to watch, a way of filling the tanks. It was always the goal to experience more theatre next year. I think I should embrace that, rather than abandoning it, but perhaps I need to be guided as to what to see. Apply within.

Good Grief – A Theatre Review

Icon-Theatre-150My mother came to visit recently and needed to be entertained on a full-time basis, like sugar-addled toddler during half-term. So, when countless hours of shopping and museums were exhausted, it was decided we should go to the theatre. I’m no fan of musicals, which thankfully scuppered most of the initial suggestions. Thankfully, Guildford has the Yvonne Arnaud theatre and the production they had on starred Penelope Keith, who my mother has loved since the 1970s when she played Margo Leadbetter in the sitcom The Good Life. The play itself, Good Grief, was pretty much secondary to this.

Adapted by Waterhouse from his own comic novel, Good Grief tells the story of a recently bereaved widow who unexpectedly finds herself drawn to another man, for no reason other than that he is wearing one of her dead husband’s suits, which she had given to charity. The relationship between ‘the suit’, the widow and her interfering step-daughter quickly unravels. All this is pseudo-narrated by the widow, as she diarises her thoughts to her dead husband.

I’ll be blunt: At it’s best, Good Grief was mildly humourous banality. At it’s worst, it was tiresome, predictable, outdated, poorly acted codswallop. And yes, I’m counting ‘national treasure’ Penelope Keith in amongst that. She seemed content to phone in her acting while struggling to maintain a rough semblance of a Lancashire accent, fluffing her lines and mistiming jokes. Inexcusable, considering she’s been playing this role off and on since 1998.

The lighting was poorly done, the set change music didn’t fit the time period that seemed to be so slavishly adhered to the rest of the time and, worst of all, the comedy timing of the dialogue was totally off.

The audience, mostly people in their sixties, seemed to enjoy it and I think the production was aimed squarely at them. Nobody was blown away or enthralled, and perhaps none of them wanted to be. They wanted to see Penelope Keith in some mildly humourous banality. And they got exactly that and no more.