Plenty (play)

Last updated

Plenty is a play by David Hare, first performed in 1978, about British post-war disillusion.

Contents

Productions

Kate Nelligan as Susan and Edward Herrman as Raymond, Plymouth Theatre production 1983 Plenty(play) Poster.jpg
Kate Nelligan as Susan and Edward Herrman as Raymond, Plymouth Theatre production 1983

The inspiration for Plenty came from the fact that 75 per cent of the women engaged in wartime SOE operations divorced in the immediate post-war years; the title is derived from the idea that the post-war era would be a time of "plenty", which proved untrue for most of England.

Directed by the playwright, Plenty premiered in the Lyttelton Theatre on London's South Bank on 7 April 1978, featuring Kate Nelligan as Susan, the protagonist, and Stephen Moore as Raymond. [1] It was nominated for the Olivier Award as Play of the Year and Nelligan as Best Actress in a New Play, losing to Whose Life is it Anyway? and Joan Plowright in Filumena . [2]

The play premiered Off-Broadway on 21 October 1982, at the Public Theater, where it ran for 45 performances. Directed by Hare, Nelligan reprised the role of Susan, supported by Kelsey Grammer and Dominic Chianese. [3] The play opened on Broadway (directed by Hare) on 6 January 1983 at the Plymouth Theatre, running for 92 performances and eleven previews. Nelligan was joined by Edward Herrmann, Daniel Gerroll, Madeleine Potter and George N. Martin. [4]

In 1985, Hare's film adaptation was directed by Fred Schepisi, with Meryl Streep as Susan, and Charles Dance, Tracey Ullman, John Gielgud, Sting, Ian McKellen, and Sam Neill in supporting roles. Ullman and Gielgud were nominated for BAFTA Awards, and Gielgud was named Best Supporting Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics.

In 1999, Cate Blanchett played Susan in a production in London's Albery Theatre. [5] From 3 to 26 February 2011 the play was revived at the Crucible Theatre as part of a David Hare season (alongside Racing Demon and The Breath of Life ), featuring Hattie Morahan, Edward Bennett and Bruce Alexander. [6]

The play was revived Off-Broadway at The Public Theater, opening on 20 October 2016. David Leveaux directed, with the cast that starred Rachel Weisz as Susan Traherne and Corey Stoll as Raymond Brock. [7] The 1978, 1982, 1983 and 1999 scripts were all examined and Hare was consulted as the production took shape.

Plenty was revived at Chichester in 2019, in the Festival Theatre between 7-29 June. Kate Hewitt directed and it starred Rachael Stirling as Susan and Rory Keenan as Raymond.

Overview

Susan Traherne, a former secret agent, is a woman conflicted by the contrast between her past, exciting triumphs and her present, more ordinary life. She had worked behind enemy lines as a Special Operations Executive courier in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. However, she regrets the mundane nature of her present life, as the increasingly depressed wife of a diplomat whose career she has destroyed. Viewing society as morally bankrupt, Susan has become self-absorbed, bored, and destructive — the slow deterioration in her mental health mirrors the crises in the ruling class of post-war Britain.

Susan Traherne's story is told in a non-linear chronology, alternating between her wartime and post-wartime lives, illustrating how youthful dreams rarely are realised and how a person's personal life can affect the outside world.

Reception

In the programme notes to the original production Hare writes that "…ambiguity is central to the idea of the play. The audience is asked to make its own mind up about each of the actions.". This ambiguity, however, was not understood by contemporary critics, who found themselves in a "consensus of confusion" over the work's meaning and significance. Colin Ludlow, writing in London Magazine later that year, found that his fellow critics had failed to understand Plenty through "pure laziness" and because they were offered no easy solutions to the social problems presented on stage. After later productions, both in the theatre and on film, "…time has shown the play to be a significant contribution to both British and world drama.". [8] [9]

Awards and nominations

Sources: Playbill; [4] Lortel [3]

See also

Related Research Articles

Kevin Kline American actor

Kevin Delaney Kline is an American actor. He has won an Oscar and three Tony Awards and is a 2003 American Theatre Hall of Fame inductee.

<i>Chapter Two</i> (play)

Chapter Two is a semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon. The play premiered on Broadway in 1977, where it ran for 857 performances.

David Hare (playwright)

Sir David Hare is an English playwright, screenwriter and theatre and film director. Best known for his stage work, Hare has also enjoyed great success with films, receiving two Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for writing The Hoursin 2002, based on the novel written by Michael Cunningham, and The Readerin 2008, based on the novel of the same name written by Bernhard Schlink.

Donald Margulies

Donald Margulies is an American playwright and Professor (Adjunct) of English and Theater & Performance Studies at Yale University. In 2000, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Dinner with Friends.

<i>Torch Song Trilogy</i> Collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein

Torch Song Trilogy is a collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein rendered in three acts: International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery, and Widows and Children First! The story centers on Arnold Beckoff, a Jewish homosexual, drag queen, and torch singer who lives in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The four-hour play begins with a soliloquy in which he explains his cynical disillusionment with love.

<i>A Lie of the Mind</i>

A Lie of the Mind is a play written by Sam Shepard, first staged at the off-Broadway Promenade Theater on 5 December 1985. The play was directed by Shepard himself with stars Harvey Keitel as Jake, Amanda Plummer as Beth, Aidan Quinn as Frankie, Geraldine Page as Lorraine, and Will Patton as Mike. The music was composed and played by the North Carolina bluegrass group the Red Clay Ramblers.

Patricia Colleen Nelligan, known professionally as Kate Nelligan, is a Canadian stage, film and television actress. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1991 film The Prince of Tides, and the same year won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Frankie and Johnny. She is also a four-time Tony Award nominee for her work on Broadway, receiving nominations for Plenty (1983), A Moon for the Misbegotten (1984), Serious Money (1988) and Spoils of War (1989).

<i>Brighton Beach Memoirs</i>

Brighton Beach Memoirs is a semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon, the first chapter in what is known as his Eugene trilogy. It precedes Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound.

Lucille Lortel

Lucille Lortel was an American actress, artistic director, and theatrical producer. In the course of her career Lortel produced or co-produced nearly 500 plays, five of which were nominated for Tony Awards: As Is by William M. Hoffman, Angels Fall by Lanford Wilson, Blood Knot by Athol Fugard, Mbongeni Ngema's Sarafina!, and A Walk in the Woods by Lee Blessing. She also produced Marc Blitzstein's adaptation of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, a production which ran for seven years and according to The New York Times "caused such a sensation that it...put Off-Broadway on the map."

<i>Plenty</i> (film)

Plenty is a 1985 drama film directed by Fred Schepisi and starring Meryl Streep. It was adapted from David Hare's play of the same name.

Lynn Nottage American playwright

Lynn Nottage is an American playwright whose work often deals with the lives of marginalized people. She is a professor of Playwriting at Columbia University.

Classic Stage Company

Classic Stage Company, or CSC, is a classical Off-Broadway theater dedicated to re-imagining the classical repertory for a contemporary American audience, presenting plays from the past that speak directly to today's issues. Founded in 1967, Classic Stage Company is one of Off-Broadway's longest-enduring theaters. Its 199-seat theatre is the former Abbey Theatre located at 136 East 13th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues in the East Village near Union Square, Manhattan, New York City.

<i>A Moon for the Misbegotten</i>

A Moon for the Misbegotten is a play by Eugene O'Neill. The play is a sequel to O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night, with the Jim Tyrone character as an older version of Jamie Tyrone. He began drafting the play late in 1941, set it aside after a few months and returned to it a year later, completing the text in 1943 – his final work, as his failing health made it physically impossible for him to write. The play premiered on Broadway in 1947 and has had four Broadway revivals, plus a West End engagement.

John Tillinger is a theatre director and actor.

Jeff Calhoun is an American director, choreographer, producer and dancer.

Tiny Alice is a three-act play written by Edward Albee that premiered on Broadway at the Billy Rose Theatre in 1964.

Harriet Newman Leve is a four-time Tony Award–winning Broadway producer.

Licking Hitler is a television play about a black propaganda unit operating in England during World War II, broadcast by the BBC on 10 January 1978 as part of the Play for Today series. Written and directed by David Hare, it featured performances by Kate Nelligan and Bill Paterson. Photography was by Ken Morgan and John Kenway while the producer was David Rose for BBC Birmingham. Described as a work of "outstanding and unsettling power", it won the best single television play BAFTA award for 1978.

David Fishelson

David J. "Dave" Fishelson is an American producer, playwright, and director for film, theatre, television and radio, based in Manhattan since 1982. He is best known for being the lead producer of Golda's Balcony, the longest-running one-woman show in Broadway history (2003–05)—which he also produced as a feature motion picture, Golda's Balcony , that was popular in over 75 film festivals in 2019-20)—as well as being the founder/producer of Manhattan Ensemble Theatre ("MET"), an award-winning Off-Broadway theatre company located in SoHo, New York City. As a filmmaker, his work has been broadcast on PBS, exhibited theatrically, and selected for 87 international film festivals. As a theatre producer and playwright, his work has garnered 31 nominations from the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Obie, Drama League, Lortel, Blackburn Prize and Touring Broadway awards organizations, while landing on Time Out NY's year-end "Best in Theatre" list on 4 different occasions.

Steven Levenson American playwright and television writer

Steven Levenson is an American playwright and television writer. He won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Dear Evan Hansen.

References

  1. "Plenty". National Theatre Archive. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  2. "The Nominees and Winners of The Laurence Olivier Awards for 1978". Official London Theatre Guide. Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2007.
  3. 1 2 " 'Plenty' Off-Broadway" lortel.org, retrieved 11 February 2017
  4. 1 2 " Plenty' Broadway" Playbill, retrieved 11 February 2017
  5. "Plenty of praise for Cate". BBC News. 28 April 1999.
  6. "David Hare Season: Plenty". Archived from the original on 27 February 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011. sheffieldtheatres.co.uk
  7. Stasio, Marilyn. "Off Broadway Review: 'Plenty' With Rachel Weisz" Variety , 20 October 2016
  8. Ludlow, Colin (July 1978). "Hare and Others". London Magazine . pp. 76–78. ISSN   0024-6085.
  9. "Critical Overview". A Study Guide for David Hare's "Plenty". Boston, MA: Cengage. 2017. ISBN   9781375386425.