Reading Plays

Over the last year or so I’ve enjoyed reading plays.

I started by knowing some names, both of plays and writers but not much more than anyone would know from popular culture. Bit by bit I found that I was finding that I had particular favourites. Tom Stoppard comes to mind. 'Arcadia' is stunning, 'Jumpers' surreal and funny, though almost anything by him seems to be clever, funny and humane.

I also enjoyed Pinter’s early plays; 'The Dumb Waiter,' 'The Room', 'The Caretaker', 'The Birthday Party'. All have been a grimy delight. As an aside, I finally got see some Pinter onstage when NT Live broadcast 'No Man's Land' which confirmed the power of the famous comedy of menace. Having Sirs Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellan in the lead roles didn't do it any harm either.

Back with the reading; 'Night, Mother' was stunning in its perfect simplicity. 'Wilt' was heartfelt, sad and peculiarly uplifting, while 'Equus' was strange and wonderful.

There were some real moments of pleasure reading Arthur Miller; 'Death of a Salesman', 'All My Sons', 'The Crucible' and 'A View from the Bridge' are deservedly revered.

When it came to Irish writer's, I had previously enjoyed 'The Weir' by Conor McPherson and added 'This Lime Tree Bower' and 'Port Authority' to that.

Martin McDonagh supplied 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane', 'The Pillowman' and 'Hangmen', all of which were distinctly different from each other while being fine pieces of writing. Another NT Live performance, this time of Hangmen, confirmed that they were, of course, even better on stage.

To many seasoned theatregoers and readers these will be basic beyond belief but to me, it's been an exciting and invigorating addition to my reading life and therefore my writing. My Goodreads has a more thorough record of all the other plays I enjoyed in this late arrival to the form if any of you are curious.

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