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October 30, 2019

Caryl Churchill Plays To Read


Whether you’re a Caryl Churchill aficionado or you’re new to her work, we know that once you’ve read one of her pieces, you’ll want to read them all.

To help you on your Churchill journey, we’ve put a list of some of our favourites together for you to enjoy.

A Number (US/UK)
(Full Length Play, Drama / 2m)
Human cloning is the subject of this beguiling psychological thriller that blends topical scientific speculation with a stunning portrait of the relationship between fathers and their sons. Though short, this play “contains more drama, and more ideas, than most writers manage in a dozen full-length works” (Daily Telegraph)

Cloud 9 (US/UK)
(Full Length Play, Drama / 3m, 3f, 16m or f)
A hilarious and scathing parody of colonialism and the Victorian Empire, particularly in its rigid attitude toward sex, Cloud 9 explodes conventions and challenges its audience with humour and wit. There is Clive, a British functionary; his wife Betty (played by a man); their daughter Victoria (a rag doll); Clive’s friend Harry, an explorer; Mrs. Saunders, who runs about dressed in a riding habit; Clive’s son Edward, who still plays with dolls (and is played by a woman); and Joshua, an African servant who knows exactly what is really going on. What really is going on is a marvellous sendup and a non-stop round-robin of sexual liaisons.

Drunk Enough To Say I Love You (US/UK)
(Short Play, Drama / 2m)
Described as “a very topical manifestation of mistrust, anxiety and, yes, anger” (The Times), this play takes an elliptical look at American and British politics, in which two men sit on a couch and fall in and out of love.

Fen (US/UK)
(Full Length Play, Drama / 3m, 3f, 16m or f)
This play takes place in England’s swamp or “fen” country, and focuses on a gang of women land workers. The play looks at their work situation, their private lives and their dreams. In particular, we follow the story of Val, who leaves her husband and children to live with a farm worker, Frank. Other characters include Angela, the outsider who torments her stepdaughter Becky; Alice, who has turned to religion; Nell, who tries to assert her rights against the farmer; Shirley, who prides herself on keeping going. It’s a community with strong links with the past but living in a present where the land is owned by multinationals.

Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp. (UK)
A girl made of glass. Gods and murders. A serial killer’s friends. And a secret in a bottle. Explore this collection of four “audacious, haunting and often horribly funny” (Independent) stories.

Here We Go (UK)
(Short Play, Drama)
This play confronts the topic of aging and death in 3 separate parts. In the first part of the play, friends gather at a funeral and discuss, without much feeling, the passing of a friend. The second is a monologue about the afterlife, while, in the third part, a dying man is dressed and undressed by a loving caregiver.

Ice Cream (UK)
(Full Length Play, Drama / 3m, 3f, 7m or f)
A middle-class American couple travel to England on a genealogical search and find third cousins who are decidedly low-lives and whom they aid following a violent event. Who’s worse: the doer of evil deeds or he who enables him to continue?

Vinegar Tom (UK)
(Full Length Play, Drama / 2m, 7f)
This exciting early play by an acclaimed Obie Award winning author was created in association with a British feminist theatre who requested a play about witches. Although Vinegar Tom is set in the 16th or 17th century in rural England, it has a contemporary feel. It tells the story of two farm women who are named as witches by a man whom they have spurned sexually. The connection between fear of female sexuality and witch hysteria is shown to be at the root of many of society’s problems.

Love and Information (US/UK)
(Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy)
Someone sneezes. Someone can’t get a signal. Someone won’t answer the door. Someone put an elephant on the stairs. Someone’s not ready to talk. Someone is her brother’s mother. Someone hates irrational numbers. Someone told the police. Someone got a message from the traffic light. Someone’s never felt like this before.
In this fast-moving kaleidoscope, more than a hundred characters try to make sense of what they know.

Pigs and Dogs (UK)
(Short Play / 2m, 1f)
In 2014, Uganda passed an Anti-Homosexuality Act. This short, startling play looks at what lies behind it. Caryl Churchill’s Pigs and Dogs premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 2016, in a production directed by Dominic Cooke.

Top Girls (US/UK)
(Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 7f)
Marlene has been promoted to managing director of a London employment agency and is celebrating. The symbolic luncheon is attended by women in legend or history who offer perspectives on maternity and ambition. In a time warp, these ladies are also her co-workers, clients, and relatives. Marlene, like her famous guests, has had to pay a price to ascend from proletarian roots to the executive suite: she has become, figuratively speaking, a male oppressor, and even coaches female clients on adopting odious male traits. Marlene has also abandoned her illegitimate and dull-witted daughter. Her emotional and sexual life has become as barren as Lady Macbeth’s.

Discover more Caryl Churchill plays to read on our website.

In the US/North America, click here. In the UK/Europe, click here.