From Quiz Revision Notes

Edward Albee

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962) – portrays husband and wife George and Martha in a searing night of dangerous fun and games. Filmed in 1966 starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor as George and Martha.

The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (2002) – concerns Martin, a successful architect who is married, but is also in love with a goat (named Sylvia).

Woody Allen

Don’t Drink the Water (1966) – is a farce that takes place inside an American Embassy behind the Iron Curtain.

Play It Again, Sam (1969) – concerns a recently divorced film magazine writer, Allan Felix, who is trying to restart his romantic life. He repeatedly seeks advice from the ghost of his idol, Humphrey Bogart.

Jean Anouilh was one of France's most prolific writers after World War II.

Antigone (1944) – is an adaptation of Sophocles' classical drama.

Becket (1959) – is a depiction of the conflict between Thomas Becket and King Henry II.

Guillaume Apollinaire

The Breasts of Tiresias (1917) – mentioned surrealism, both as subtitle and in the preface to the play.

For other works by this author see: Poetry

John Arden - Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance (1959) follows three privates in the British Army and their sergeant, all of whom are deserters from a foreign imperialist war.

Alan Ayckbourn has written and produced more than eighty full-length plays and was, between 1972 and 2009, the artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.

The Norman Conquests trilogy (1973) – Table Manners, Living Together, Round and Round the Garden. Each of the plays depicts the same six characters over the same weekend in a different part of a house.

Absurd Person Singular (1975) – documents the changing fortunes of three married couples. Each act takes place at a Christmas celebration at one of the couples' homes on successive Christmas Eves.

Bedroom Farce (1975) – takes place over the course of one night in three bedrooms, all present on stage.

A Chorus of Disapproval (1984) – follows Guy Jones, who joins an amateur operatic society and rises through the company ranks. The play is juxtaposed with scenes and music from John Gay's The Beggar's Opera.

Woman in Mind (1985) – is told from the first person perspective of Susan, a woman going through a breakdown.

A Small Family Business (1987) – is about the eponymous business and dealing with the Thatcherism of the time.

Man of the Moment (1988) – is satirical attack on the media obsession with celebrity centring on the reunion of a have-a-go hero and a bank robber.

J(ames) M(atthew) Barrie was a Scottish playwright best remembered as the creator of Peter Pan.

Quality Street (1901) – is a comedy in four acts. The story is about two sisters who start a school. The play was so popular that Quality Street chocolates and caramels were named after it.

The Admirable Crichton (1902) – concerns an aristocratic English family who are shipwrecked on a desert island. Crichton, the butler, proves to be the most intelligent, resourceful, and able man to command the party.

Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up or Peter and Wendy, often known simply as Peter Pan, is a 1904 play and a 1911 novel.

Mike Bartlett - King Charles III (2014) centres on the accession and reign of King Charles III.

Richard Bean - One Man, Two Guvnors (2011) is an English adaptation of Servant of Two Masters, a 1743 Commedia dell'arte comedy play by the Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni.

Pierre Beaumarchais was a polymath, and is best-known for his three Figaro plays –

Le Barbier de Seville (1773) was adapted into an opera by Rossini.

Le Mariage de Figaro (1784) was adapted into an opera by Mozart.

La Mere coupable (The Guilty Mother, 1793) was Beaumarchais’s last play. Subtitled The Other Tartuffe.

Francis Beaumont was known for his collaborations with John Fletcher.

The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607) is the earliest whole parody (or pastiche) play in English.

Samuel Beckett was a key figure in the “Theatre of the Absurd”. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969. Spent most of his adult life in Paris. Joined the French Resistance in 1940.

Waiting for Godot, subtitled A Tragicomedy in Two Acts, is an absurdist play written in the late 1940s and first published in 1952. Beckett originally wrote the play in French. The plot concerns Vladimir (also called Didi) and Estragon (also called Gogo), who arrive at a pre-specified roadside location in order to await the arrival of someone named Godot. Vladimir and Estragon, who appear to be tramps, pass the time in conversation, and sometimes in conflict. Lucky is Pozzo’s slave. First line: “Nothing to be done”

Endgame (1957) – is a bleak tragicomedy. Hamm, his servant Clov, his father Nagg, and his mother Nell are trapped together in Hamm's home. Nagg and Nell live in dustbins.

Happy Days (1961) – concerns Winnie, a woman inexplicably buried under mounds of earth who reminisces about better days. She is married to Willie.

Breath (1969) – lasts for 35 seconds. It consists of the sound of a birth-cry, followed by an amplified recording of somebody slowly inhaling and exhaling accompanied by an increase and decrease in the intensity of the light.

What Where (1983) – was Beckett’s last play. The four characters are Bam, Bom, Bim, and Bem.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles

Brendan Behan was born in Dublin into a staunchly republican family.

The Quare Fellow (1954) – first play. Set in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. The anti-hero of the play, The Quare Fellow, is never seen or heard.

The Hostage (1958) – depicts the events leading up to the planned execution of an 18-year-old IRA member in a Belfast jail, accused of killing an RUC policeman.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles

Aphra Behn - The Rover (1667) is a Restoration comedy dealing with the amorous adventures of a group of Englishmen and women in Naples at Carnival time.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles

Alan Bennett was born in Leeds in 1934.

Forty Years On (1968) – first play in the West End.

A Question of Attribution (1988) – is based on Anthony Blunt's role in the Cambridge Spy Ring and, as Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, personal art advisor to Queen Elizabeth II.

The Madness of George III (1991) – is a fictionalised biographical study of the latter half of the reign of George III.

The History Boys (2004) – is about a group of sixth formers from Cutlers' Grammar School, Sheffield, preparing for the Oxbridge entrance examinations during the 1980s.

The Habit of Art (2009) – is centered on a fictional meeting between W. H. Auden and Benjamin Britten while Britten is composing the opera Death in Venice.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles

Stephen Berkoff is a British actor, playwright, author, and director.

East (1975) – deals with growing up and rites of passage in London's East End.

Greek (1980) – is a retelling of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex.

Robert Bolt was a playwright and screenwriter.

A Man for All Seasons (1960) – is based on the true story of Sir Thomas More. Adapted into a 1966 film starring Paul Scofield.

Vivat! Vivat Regina! (1970) – is based on Mary, Queen of Scots and her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I

Edward BondSaved (1965) is set in London during the 1960s. Its subject is the cultural poverty and frustration of a generation of young people. The play was instrumental in the abolition of theatre censorship in the UK.

Bertolt Brecht was born in Germany and left in 1933. He spent several years in Scandinavia and moved to the US in 1941, returning to Berlin in 1949. He wrote The Threepenny Opera with Kurt Weill in 1924. The "alienation effect" was made popular by Brecht and is one of the most significant characteristics of epic theatre.

Baal (1918) – first full-length play.

Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, also known as The Private Life of the Master Race (1938) – first anti-Nazi play. Consists of a series of sketches, portraying National Socialist Germany of the 1930s as a land of poverty, violence, fear and pretence.

Mother Courage and her Children (1939) – is set in 17th century Europe. The play follows Anna Fierling, aka Mother Courage, a woman who operates a rolling canteen business during the Thirty Years War. Along with her three children, Anna travels across Europe in a covered wagon, selling goods to locals and alcohol to soldiers.

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (1941) – chronicles the rise of Arturo Ui, a fictional 1930s Chicago mobster, and his attempts to control the cauliflower racket by ruthlessly disposing of the opposition. The play is a satirical allegory of the rise of Adolf Hitler.

Life of Galileo (1943) – follows Galileo Galilei in the later part of his life, and his struggle to prove the Copernican theory of a heliocentric universe.

The Good Woman of Setzuan, also known as The Good Person of Setzuan (1943) – is about a young prostitute named Shen Te in the Chinese city of Setzuan, who struggles to lead a life that is "good" according to the terms of the morality taught by the gods.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1948) – two soviet communes stage a play to help decide which one of them will inherit a tract of land. The play within a play concerns a peasant girl who rescues a baby and becomes a better mother than the baby's wealthy biological parents.

Howard Brenton - The Romans in Britain (1980) became the focus of an unsuccessful private prosecution by Mary Whitehouse against the play's director Michael Bogdanov relating to the on-stage depiction of homosexual rape.

Harold Brighouse - Hobson’s Choice (1915) revolves around Willie Mossop, a gifted, but unappreciated shoemaker employed by the domineering Henry Horatio Hobson. He is bullied by Hobson's eldest daughter, Maggie, into marrying her and setting up in a shop of his own. The term "Hobson's choice" is often used to mean an illusion of choice.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton was a politician and Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1858 to 1859.

Richelieu (1839) portrays the life of Cardinal Richelieu. Includes the line: ”The pen is mightier than the sword”.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles

Jez Butterworth

Jerusalem (2009) – Johnny “Rooster” Byron” tells tales, gets drunk, does drugs, dodges the authorities, and both charms and infuriates all that he meets. Ginger is his sidekick.

The Ferryman (2017) – is set in Northern Ireland in 1981, during the height of the Troubles. Quinn, a former terrorist, has swapped his career with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for a life on the farm in rural Armagh.

Marc Camoletti - Boeing-Boeing (1960) is a classic French farce. Centres on bachelor Bernard, who has a flat in Paris and three stewardesses all engaged to him without knowing about each other.

Albert Camus - The Just Assassins (1949) is based on the true story of a group of Russian Socialist-Revolutionaries who assassinated the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich in 1905, and explores the moral issues associated with murder and terrorism.

For other works by this author see: Novels - World

John CartwrightThe Rise and Fall of Little Voice (1992) is about Laura Hoff who is known as LV (Little Voice). Her lack of confidence is conquered when she begins a singing career.

Anton Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short story writer. He died of tuberculosis aged 44.

The Seagull (1896) – is a drama set in the Russian countryside at the end of the 19th century. The cast of characters is dissatisfied with their lives. The four main characters are the author Boris Trigorin, the ingenue Nina, the actress Irina Arkadina, and her son the symbolist playwright Konstantin Treplev.

Uncle Vanya (1898) – is a dark comedy about a wealthy couple who plan to sell their country estate. Uncle Vanya is one of the estate managers. It is a reworking of Chekhov’s own play, The Wood Demon (1889).

Three Sisters (1900) – follows the lives of the Prozorov sisters as their fortune is in decline. Olga is the eldest sister, Masha is the middle sister, and Irina is the youngest sister. Their brother is Andrei.

The Cherry Orchard (1903) – last play. Revolves around Madame Ranevskaya, an aristocratic Russian landowner who returns to her family estate (which includes a cherry orchard) just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. She allows the estate to be sold to Lopakhin, the son of a former serf.

For other works by this author see: Novels - World / Literature - Non-Fiction

Agatha Christie The Mousetrap was originally a 30-minute radio play, Three Blind Mice, presented by the BBC in honour of the late Queen Mary's 80th birthday, in 1947. It opened in London's West End in 1952 and ran continuously until 2020. The play is set in the Great Hall of Monkswell Manor, a guesthouse run by Mollie and Giles Ralston, and opens with the murder of Maureen Lyon.

For other works by this author see: Crime Fiction

Caryl Churchill is a socialist feminist writer.

Cloud Nine (1989) – is a two-act play. Act I is set in British colonial Africa in the Victorian era, and Act II is set in a London park in 1979. The play establishes a parallel between colonial and sexual oppression.

Top Girls (1982) – follows Marlene, who hosts a dinner party to celebrate a promotion at the Top Girls Employment Agency. The guests are women plucked from history, art, and myth.

Serious Money (1987) – is a satirical study of the effects of the "Big Bang" boom of financial markets in the 1980s and how it gave rise to work where human values are compromised for success and wealth.

Colley Cibber wrote 25 plays for his own company at Drury Lane. He was Poet Laureate from 1730 to 1757.

Love’s Last Shift (1696) – concerns a good woman named Amanda, who reforms her rakish husband.

The Careless Husband (1704) – is another example of the retrieval of a straying husband.

The Provoked Husband (1728) – is based on a fragment of a play written by John Vanbrugh.

Brian ClarkWhose Life is it Anyway? (1978) – a hospitalised quadriplegic considers how much control they have over their own life.

Jean Cocteau was a French poet, playwright, novelist, and filmmaker.

La Voix humaine (1930) – involves one woman on stage speaking on the telephone with her (invisible and inaudible) departing lover.

La Machine infernale (1934) – is based on the ancient Greek myth of Oedipus.

Les Parents terribles (1938) – presents a vivid picture of erotic mayhem amongst the Parisian bourgeoisie.

William Congreve was a playwright and poet of the Restoration period.

Love for Love (1695) – is a comical farce. The main character is Valentine.

The Mourning Bride (1697) – is a tragedy that centres on Zara, a queen held captive by Manuel, King of Granada. Includes the phrases "Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast" and "Heav'n has no rage, like love to hatred turn'd, Nor hell a fury, like a woman scorned".

The Way of the World (1700) – is centered on the two lovers, Mirabell and Millamant.

Ray Cooney - Run for Your Wife (1983) – concerns bigamist John Smith, a London cab driver with two wives and two lives.

Pierre Corneille was a French tragedian. He earned the valuable patronage of Cardinal Richelieu, who was trying to promote classical tragedy along formal lines, but later quarreled with him, especially over his best-known play Le Cid.

Le Cid (1637) – is a five-act play. The stories of the Cid are based on the life of the Spanish warrior Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, who lived approximately from 1043 until 1099. In the play, however, he is lauded solely as a Christian soldier.

Noel Coward published more than 50 plays and wrote 300 songs. Coward died at his home, Firefly Estate, in Jamaica in 1973. His long-term partner was Graham Payn.

The Vortex (1924) – was Coward's first great commercial success. The play explores the darker side of the Cocktail Party set, including emotional blackmail and drug abuse.

Hay Fever (1925) – is set in an English country house in the 1920s, and deals with the four eccentric members of the Bliss family and their outlandish behaviour when they each invite a guest to spend the weekend.

Private Lives (1930) – the plot revolves around a divorced couple, Amanda and Elyot, who bump into each other on a honeymoon trip in Deauville with their respective new spouses.

Cavalcade (1931) – focuses on three decades in the life of the Marryots, an upper-middle-class British family, and their servants, from 1900 to 1930.

Design for Living (1932) – is a dark romantic comedy concerning a trio of artistic characters, Gilda, Otto and Leo. The play opened on Broadway because it was too risqué for London’s West End.

Blithe Spirit (1941) – is a comic play which takes its title from Shelley's poem To a Skylark. The action of the play centres on socialite Charles Condomine being haunted by the ghost of his first wife Elvira following a séance.

Shelagh Delaney

A Taste of Honey (1958) – debut play, written when Delaney was aged 19. Kitchen sink drama set in Salford in the 1950s. Jo is a 17-year-old schoolgirl with a promiscuous, alcoholic mother, Helen. Adapted into a 1961 film.

John Dryden

The Indian Emperour (1665) – is about the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire under Hernán Cortés. It is now most famous for Samuel Pepys writing of Nell Gwynn’s performance as Cydaria that "a great and serious part, which she do most basely".

Marriage à la Mode (1673) – is a Restoration comedy. The play has two unrelated plots. One concerns the princess Palmyra of Sicily and her childhood sweetheart Leonidas. The other plot is comic. After two years of marriage Rodophil and Doralice have lost interest in each other. Rodophil is attracted to Melanthe, whose affectations annoy her fiancé, Palamede.

All for Love (1677) – is an imitation of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, and focuses on the last hours of the lives of its hero and heroine.

For other works by this author see: Poetry

Andrea Dunbar - Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1982) is about two teenaged schoolgirls from a council estate in Bradford who have a sexual fling with a married man.

Nell Dunn - Steaming (1981) in which six women fight to save their local Turkish bath from closure.

T(homas) S(tearns) Eliot

Murder in the Cathedral (1935) – concerns the murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury cathedral in 1170.

The Family Reunion (1939) – the protagonist Harry struggles with feelings of guilt after the death of his overbearing, unpopular wife.

The Cocktail Party (1949) – focuses on Edward and Lavinia Chamberlayne, a troubled married couple who, through the intervention of a mysterious stranger, settle their problems and move on with their lives.

The Elder Statesman (1959) – last play. Lord Claverton, an eminent former cabinet minister and banker, is helped to confront his past by the love of his daughter.

For other works by this author see: Poetry

Eve Ensler is a playwright and feminist, also known as V.

The Vagina Monologues (1996) – is made up of various personal monologues read by a diverse group of women. Each of the monologues deals with an aspect of the feminine experience.

George Farquhar was an Irish playwright of the Restoration period, noted for his plays The Constant Couple (1699), The Recruiting Officer (1706), and The Beaux' Stratagem (1707).

George Feydeau was a French playwright who is remembered for his farces, including L'Hôtel du libre échange (The Free Exchange Hotel, 1894), La Dame de chez Maxim (The Lady from Maxim's, 1899), La Puce à l'oreille (A Flea in Her Ear, 1907) and Occupe-toi d'Amélie! (Look After Amélie, 1908).

Henry Fielding

Tom Thumb (1730) – was written as an addition to The Author's Farce, Fielding's first theatrical success.

The Tragedy of Tragedies (1731) – was an expanded and rewritten version of Tom Thumb.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles

John Fletcher – was best known for his collaborations with William Shakespeare on Henry VIII (1613), The Two Noble Kinsmen (c1613) and the ‘lost’ Cardenio (1613), and Francis Beaumont including Philaster (c1609) and The Maid's Tragedy (c1610). He wrote The Woman's Prize or the Tamer Tamed (c1609) which is a sequel to Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

Dario Fo was an Italian playwright who was awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Mistero Buffo (Comical Mystery Play, 1969) – is a series of brief monologues with Biblical themes. It was denounced by the Vatican as “blasphemous”.

Accidental Death of an Anarchist (1970) – is based loosely on real-life events involving the Italian rail worker and anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli, who died under mysterious circumstances while in police custody in 1969.

Can't Pay? Won't Pay! (1974) – is set in Italy at a time of social upheaval. Workers were striking in a bid to win better wages and women wouldn't accept that they were inferior. Tells the story of Antonia and Margherita as they join the crowds of people taking groceries from a supermarket without paying.

Peace Mom (2005) – is a play about Cindy Sheehan whose son was killed in the Iraq War.

John Ford is best known for the tragedy 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (1633), that concerns the incestuous love of Giovanni and his sister Annabella.

Brad Fraser is a Canadian playwright.

Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love (1989) is set in Alberta where a group of friends examine their love lives whilst a serial killer stalks the city.

Michael Frayn is a playwright and novelist, who is considered to be Britain's finest translator of Anton Chekhov.

Noises Off (1982) – is a comedy about a touring theatre company’s struggle to stage a farce. Each of the three acts contains a performance of the first act of a play within a play, a sex farce called Nothing On.

Copenhagen (1998) – deals with a historical event, a 1941 meeting between Niels Bohr and his protégé, Werner Heisenberg, who may be working on the development of an atomic bomb.

Democracy (2003) – dramatises the story of the German chancellor Willy Brandt and his personal assistant, the East German spy Günter Guillaume.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles

Brian Friel was an Irish dramatist, short story writer and founder of the Field Day Theatre Company.

Philadelphia, Here I Come! (1964) – takes place in a town in County Donegal on the night before and morning of Gar O’Donnell’s move to America.

Faith Healer (1979) – is a series of four monologues around the life and death of faith healer Frank Hardy.

Christopher Fry - The Lady’s Not for Burning (1948) is set in the Middle Ages. Concerns a war-weary soldier who wants to die, and an accused witch who wants to live.

Athol Fugard is a South African playwright best known for his political plays opposing the system of apartheid.

Blood Knot (1961) – was the first South African play performed with an interracial cast.

"Master Harold"...and the boys (1982) – follows Hally, a white Afrikaner boy, who is called Master Harold by the servants, Sam and Willie.

John Galsworthy was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932.

Justice (1910) – was part of a campaign to improve conditions in British prisons.

The Skin Game (1920) – concerns the struggle between two families and two ways of life: Squire Hillcrist, the landed gentry; and Hornblower, a nouveau riche developer.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles

Jean Genet

The Maids (1947) – follows Solange and Claire, two housemaids who construct elaborate sadomasochistic rituals when their mistress (Madame) is away.

The Balcony (1957) – is set in an upmarket brothel. Customers play out their erotic fantasies, oblivious to a revolution that is sweeping the country.

The Screens (1964) – is an account of the Algerian War of Independence.

For other works by this author see: Novels - World

William Gibson - The Miracle Worker (1959) is based on Helen Keller’s autobiography. Annie Sullivan is Keller’s governess and teacher.

John Godber – is best known for Bouncers (1977) set outside a Northern nightclub, Up 'n' Under (1984) about a pub rugby league team, and classroom comedy Teechers (1987).

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Faust – is a tragic play in two parts. The earliest forms of the work, known as the Urfaust, were developed between 1772 and 1775. Goethe finished writing Faust, Part Two in 1831. Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend, based on the historical Johann Georg Faust.

Egmont (1788) – relates the fight of Count Egmont in the Eighty Years' War against the despotic Duke of Alba.

For other works by this author see: Novels - World / Poetry

Nikolai Gogol The Government Inspector (also known as The Inspector General, 1836) – is a satirical play that highlights the stupidity, greed, and venality of Russian provincial officials. The townspeople deceive themselves into believing that Hlestakov is the government inspector, whereupon Hlestakov takes advantage of the case of mistaken identity, further extending the deception to his own advantage.

For other works by this author see: Novels - World / Historical Fiction

James Goldman - The Lion in Winter premiered on Broadway in 1966. It depicts the personal and political conflicts of Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, their children and their guests during Christmas 1183. Adapted into a 1968 film, with the screenplay written by Goldman.

Oliver Goldsmith

She Stoops to Conquer (1773) – was initially titled Mistakes of a Night. It is a comedy that lampoons the quirks and customs of 18th century England, from matchmaking and marriage to character and class. Mr. Hardcastle has chosen Marlow to be the husband of his daughter, Kate.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles / Poetry

Maxim Gorky

The Philistines (1901) – debut play.

The Lower Depths (1902) – depicts a group of impoverished Russians living in a shelter near the Volga.

Children of the Sun (1905) – was written while Gorky was briefly imprisoned in St. Petersburg during the abortive Russian Revolution of 1905. Set in Russia on the eve of the revolution. The country’s new middle-class flounders about, blind to their impending annihilation.

For other works by this author see: Novels - World

Simon Gray - Cell Mates (1995) concerns George Blake’s escape from prison. Stephen Fry famously walked out of the play near the start of its West End run and disappeared, after his performance received a bad review.

John Guare - Six Degrees of Separation (1990) explores the existential premise that everyone in the world is connected to everyone else in the world by a chain of no more than six acquaintances. It is an intricately plotted comedy of manners about an African-American confidence man who poses as the son of film star Sidney Poitier.

Lee Hall - The Pitmen Painters (2007) concerns a small society of artists from Ashington, Northumberland, composed largely of mine workers.

Willis HallThe Long and the Short and the Tall (1959) is set in the Malayan jungle during the Second World War. A British Army patrol find an abandoned hut and take a Japanese soldier prisoner.

Patrick Hamilton

Rope (1929) – concerns two university students, who have murdered fellow student Ronald Kentley as an expression of their supposed intellectual superiority. Adapted into a 1948 Alfred Hitchcock film.

Gas Light (1938) – is a dark tale of a marriage based on deception and trickery, and a husband committed to driving his wife insane to steal from her. Adapted into a 1944 George Cukor film.

Lorraine Hansberry was the first African American female author to have a play performed on Broadway.

A Raisin in the Sun (1955) – highlights the lives of Black Americans living under racial segregation in Chicago. The Younger family live in poverty in a run-down apartment on Chicago's South Side. The title of the play was taken from the poem Harlem by Langston Hughes.

David Hare is a playwright and screenwriter.

Slag (1970) – first play.

Plenty (1978) – tells the story of Susan Traherne, a former secret agent who now has a mundane life. The title is derived from the idea that the post-war era would be a time of "plenty", which proved untrue.

Pravda (1985) – is a satire on the mid-1980s newspaper industry.

Racing Demon (1990) – focuses on the Church of England, and tackles issues such as gay ordination, and the role of evangelism in inner-city communities.

Skylight (1995) – Tom Sergeant and Kyra Hollis are estranged lovers who are thrashing things out after a separation of several years.

Amy’s View (1997) – is a generational play about the long-term struggle between a strong mother, Esme Allen, and her loving daughter, Amy Thomas.

The Judas Kiss (1998) – concerns the Oscar Wilde scandal.

Stuff Happens (2004) – was written in response to the Iraq War. The title is inspired by Donald Rumsfeld's response to widespread looting in Baghdad.

The Moderate Soprano (2015) – is a play about Glyndebourne Opera and its founder John Christie.

Ronald Harwood was a South African-born British author, playwright, and screenwriter.

The Dresser (1980) – tells the story of Norman, the personal assistant of an aging actor known as “Sir”.

An English Tragedy (2008) – tells the story of English traitor John Amery, who is arrested in Italy and brought back to London for trial in 1945.

Michael Hastings - Tom & Viv (1984) – tells the story of the relationship between the American poet, T. S. Eliot, and his first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot.

Vaclav Havel served as the first president of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. After 1968, Havel's plays were banned in Czechoslovakia.

The Garden Party (1963) – concerns Hugo Pludek, who attends a garden party held by the Liquidation Office. Hugo soon finds himself sucked into an absurd bureaucratic world where everyone talks but no-one says anything.

The Memorandum (1965) – is a black comedy that parodies bureaucracy and conformity.

Lillian Hellman was an American playwright, author, and screenwriter who was blacklisted at the height of the anti-communist campaigns. She was romantically involved with Dashiell Hammett, but the couple never married.

The Children’s Hour (1934) – debut play. Mary Tilford, a student, makes an allegation that the two female owners of a girls’ boarding school slept together.

The Little Foxes (1939) – is set in Alabama in 1900. Regina Giddens struggles for wealth and freedom within the confines of a society where fathers considered only sons as their legal heirs.

Ernest Hemingway -The Fifth Column (1939) – is Hemingway’s only full-length play and concerns his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.

For other works by this author see: Novels - USA / Literature - Non-Fiction

Victor Hugo

Cromwell (1927) – tells the story of Oliver Cromwell's internal conflicts in being offered the crown of England.

Le roi s’amuse (1832) – is set in Paris. The hero of the play, Triboulet, is a court jester, through whose words Hugo attacks contemporary society.

Ruy Blas (1838) – is set is Madrid during the reign of Charles II. Ruy Blas, a commoner (and a poet), dares to love the Queen.

For other works by this author see: Novels - World / Historical Fiction

Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright, born in 1828. He went to Sorrento in Italy in 1864 in self-imposed exile and spent the next 27 years in Italy and Germany. He is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare.

Catilina (1850) – was Ibsen’s first play. Based on the noble Roman Lucius Catilina.

Peer Gynt (1867) – is based on the Norwegian fairy tale Per Gynt. The title character is a rogue who will be destroyed unless he is saved by the love of a woman. He falls in love with Solveig. First performed in Christiania (now Oslo) in 1876, with original music composed by Edvard Grieg.

Emperor & Galilean (1873) – is about the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate.

A Doll’s House (1879) – centres on the Helmer family: Torvald, a bank lawyer, his wife Nora, and their three children Ivar, Bobby and Emmy.

Ghosts (1881) – is a scathing commentary on 19th century morality. Tells the story of Helen Alving, a widow who is haunted by the many mistresses of her deceased husband and by her son who has inherited syphilis from his philandering father.

An Enemy of the People (1882) – tells the story of Dr. Thomas Stockmann, who discovers that the water of a recently opened spa is contaminated with bacteria, and has to decide whether to publish his findings in a local newspaper.

The Wild Duck (1884) – concerns Gregers Werle who has returned home from a self-imposed exile to avenge the crimes of his father, wealthy industrialist Hakon Werle.

Hedda Gabler (1890) – dramatizes the experiences of the title character, Hedda, the daughter of a general, who is trapped in a marriage and a house that she does not want.

The Master Builder (1892) – explores the insecurities of an aging architect, Halvard Solness, who suspects that his creative powers have diminished with age.

When We Dead Awaken (1899) – last play. Charts the existential ruminations of professor and famed sculptor Arnold Rubek as he reunites with his former muse, Irene von Satow.

Eugene Ionesco was born in Romania and was one of the foremost figures of the French avant-garde theatre in the 20th century.

La Cantatrice chauve (The Bald Soprano or The Bald Prima Donna, 1950) – debut play. Important work in the Theatre of the Absurd. Set in a middle-class English home. Two families chatter in meaningless banter, tell stories and relate nonsensical truisms and poems.

Alfred Jarry was a French symbolist writer who coined the term and philosophical concept of ‘pataphysics’.

Ubi Roy (Ubu the King, 1896) – is a parody of Macbeth. The dialogue is obscene and childish and the play is seen as a precursor to the Theatre of the Absurd.

Ben Jonson was an English playwright and poet.

Every Man in his Humour (1598) – is a ‘comedy of humours’, in which each major character is dominated by an over-riding humour or obsession. All the words and acts of Kitely are controlled by an overpowering suspicion that his wife is unfaithful.

Volpone, or The Fox (1606) – is a black comedy and a satire of greed and lust. Volpone (The Fox) is a Venetian gentleman who pretends to be on his deathbed after a long illness in order to dupe Voltore (The Vulture), Corbaccio (The Raven) and Corvino (The Crow), three men who aspire to inherit his fortune.

The Alchemist (1610) – Lovewit leaves his house in London due to the plague and leaves Jeremy, his butler in charge. Jeremy, whose name in the play is Face, lives in the house with Subtle, a supposed alchemist, and Dol Common, a prostitute. The three run a major con operation.

Bartholomew Fair (1614) – takes place during the Fair, which opened on 24 August each year at Smithfield. Along with getting the best meat in town, one could also watch a public execution.

James Joyce - Exiles (1918) – is Joyce’s only play.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles

Sarah Kane suffered from depression and committed suicide at the age of 28. Her plays include Blasted (1995), Cleansed (1998), and 4.48 Psychosis (1999).

Joseph Kesselring was an American playwright.

Arsenic and Old Lace (1941) – is a black comedy that centres on two elderly sisters, Martha and Abby Brewster, who poison old men who come to their home looking for lodging. The two women are assisted in their crimes by their nephew who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt. The hero is Mortimer Brewster, who is Teddy’s brother. Adapted into a 1944 Frank Capra film starring Cary Grant.

Jack Kirkland - Tobacco Road (1933) is based on the novel of the same name by Erskine Caldwell. The play ran on Broadway for a total of 3,182 performances to become the longest-running play in history at the time.

Lucy Kirkwood - Chimerica (2013) takes its title from the term Chimerica, referring to the predominance of China and America in modern geopolitics.

Edward Knoblauch (aka Edward Knoblock) – Kismet (1911) Hajj a beggar rises to become Emir of Baghdad during the fictional period of the Arabian Nights. Later adapted into a musical using several pieces composed by Alexander Borodin.

Tony Kushner - Angels in America (1991) is an examination of AIDS and homosexuality in America in the 1980s.

Thomas Kyd was a 16th century English playwright, who may have been the author of a Hamlet play pre-dating Shakespeare's, which is now known as the Ur-Hamlet.

The Spanish Tragedy (c. 1582) – established a new genre, the revenge play or revenge tragedy. Set at the time of the war between the Viceroy of Portugal and the ruling Spanish nation.

Howard Lindsay and Russel CrouseLife with Father (1939) is based on a humorous autobiographical book of stories compiled in 1935 by Clarence Day. The Broadway production ran for 3,224 performances to become the longest-running non-musical play on Broadway, a record that it still holds.

Mike Leigh - Abigail’s Party (1977) in which Beverly Moss invites new neighbours Angela and Tony over for drinks. Also invited is another neighbour Sue, whose teenage daughter Abigail is holding a party at home. It was recorded later in 1977 as a BBC Play for Today which brought it to a much wider audience. Abigail does not appear in the play.

Ira Levin - Deathtrap (1978) Sidney Bruhl hasn’t written a hit play for 18 years when he receives a script from a former student, Clifford Anderson that is a guaranteed success. His wife, Myra, suggests the two men could collaborate; Sidney jokes that it would be just as easy to murder Anderson and steal the script for his own.

For other works by this author see: Horror Fiction / Science Fiction and Fantasy

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm - Emilia (2018) is a play inspired by the life of the 17th century poet and feminist Emilia Bassano, as well as her speculated role as William Shakespeare's "Dark Lady".

Matthew Lopez - The Inheritance (2019) was inspired by the novel Howards End. It is a play about gay culture in the wake of the AIDS epidemic. Won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2019 and the Tony Award for Best Play in 2020.

Federico Garcia Lorca wrote three plays sometimes referred to as a ‘rural trilogy’ –

Blood Wedding (1933) – narrates the story of a peasant wedding. The bride runs away with Leonardo on her wedding day.

Yerma (1934) – tells the story of a childless woman living in rural Spain. Her desperate desire for motherhood becomes an obsession that eventually drives her to commit a horrific crime.

The House of Bernarda Alba (1945) – is set in Bernarda's house, where she lives with her five daughters, her maid La Poncia, and several other servants.

For other works by this author see: Poetry

Maurice Maeterlinck was a Belgian poet, playwright, and essayist writing in French. The main themes in his work are death and the meaning of life. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911.

Pelleas and Melisande (1893) – is a Symbolist play about the forbidden, doomed love of the title characters. Adapted into an opera by Claude Debussy.

The Blue Bird (1908) – is about a girl called Mytyl and her brother Tyltyl seeking happiness, aided by the good fairy Bérylune. One of many big screen adaptations in 1940 starred Shirley Temple as Mytyl.

David Mamet first gained critical acclaim for a trio of off-Broadway 1970s plays: The Duck Variations, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, and American Buffalo.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) – concerns a group of Chicago real-estate salesmen who are prepared to engage in any number of unethical, illegal acts to sell undesirable real estate to unwitting prospective buyers. Won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Adapted into a 1992 film.

Speed-the-Plow (1988) – is comprised of three lengthy scenes involving the corporate dreams and strategies of Hollywood executives. The main character is Bobby Gould, who has recently been promoted to head of production at a major Hollywood studio.

Patrick Marber

Dealer’s Choice (1995) – debut play. Set in a restaurant and based around a game of poker.

Closer (1997) – concerns a group of strangers who constantly swap partners, caught between desire and betrayal.

After Miss Julie (2003) – relocates August Strindberg's play, Miss Julie, to an English country house in 1945 when the Labour Party have just won their famous 'landslide' election victory. Originally written as a play for television.

Frank Marcus - The Killing of Sister George (1964) concerns an elderly actress, June "George" Buckridge, who faces the loss of her role in a radio series and the breakdown of her long-term relationship with a younger woman.

Christopher Marlowe was an Elizabethan poet and playwright who died in 1593, aged 29. His death is shrouded in mystery, but he was probably stabbed to death by Ingram Frizir in a drunken tavern brawl. The Marlovian theory of Shakespeare authorship holds that Marlowe was the main author of the poems and plays attributed to William Shakespeare.

Dido, Queen of Carthage (c. 1585) – debut play. Tells an intense dramatic tale of Dido and her fanatical love for Aeneas.

Tamburlaine the Great (c. 1587) – is loosely based on the life of Timur.

The Jew of Malta (c. 1589) – follows the Maltese merchant Barabas with the Spanish and Ottoman struggle for control of the Mediterranean as a backdrop.

The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (c. 1589) – is a dramatization of the Faust legend. Includes the line “the face that launched a thousand ships” referring to Helen of Troy.

Edward II (c. 1592) – focuses on the relationship between Edward II and Piers Gaveston, and Edward's murder on the orders of Roger Mortimer.

The Massacre at Paris (c. 1593) – is based on the actual events that took place on St. Bartholomew’s Day in Paris in 1572 and the part played by the Duc de Guise.

For other works by this author see: Poetry

Anthony Marriott – co-writer with Alistair Foot of the farce No Sex Please, We’re British (1971).

Martin McDonagh is a British playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director.

Leenane Trilogy is set in a small village on the west coast of Ireland, and consists of The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1996), A Skull in Connemara (1997) and The Lonesome West (1997).

Aran Islands Trilogy is set off the coast of County Galway, and consists of The Cripple of Inishmaan (1996), The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2001) and The Banshees of Inisheer (unpublished).

The Pillowman (2003) – tells the tale of Katurian, a fiction writer living in a police state, who is interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a number of bizarre child murders occurring in his town.

Frank McGuinness

The Factory Girls (1982) – deals with a group of female workers facing redundancy from a small town in Donegal.

Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme (1985) – centres on the experiences of eight unionist Ulstermen at the beginning of World War I.

Terrence McNally was described as "the bard of American theatre" and was the recipient of five Tony Awards.

Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994) – is set at a lakeside summer vacation house where eight gay friends spend the three major holiday weekends of one summer together. Won the Tony Award for Best Play.

Master Class (1995) – is presented as a fictional master class by opera singer Maria Callas near the end of her life. Won the Tony Award for Best Play.

Thomas Middleton was a Jacobean playwright and poet.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (1613) – follows the humorous chain of events set off by Moll Yellowhammer, the titular maid, and a nobleman subjected to an arranged marriage.

Women Beware Women (1621) – is a tragedy that tells the story of Brancha, a woman who escapes from her rich home to elope with the poor Leantio.

The Changeling (1622) – was co-written with William Rowley. The play centres around Beatrice, a woman promised to a man she doesn’t love, and the lengths she goes to in order to marry her true love.

Arthur Miller was married to Marilyn Monroe from 1956 to 1961.

All My Sons (1947) – was directed by Elia Kazan. Based on a true story of how the Wright Aeronautical Corporation conspired with army inspection officers to approve defective aircraft engines destined for military use.

Death of a Salesman (1949) – follows the protagonist Willy Loman, a travelling salesman who is disappointed with his life, and appears to be slipping into senility. Won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play.

The Crucible (1953) – is a dramatised story of the Salem witch trials. Miller wrote the play as an allegory for McCarthyism. He was questioned by the House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 and convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended. Won the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play.

A View from the Bridge (1955) – is set in 1950s America, in an Italian-American neighbourhood near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It is narrated by a lawyer, Alfieri, and revolves around the Carbone family – Eddie, his wife Beatrice and their niece Catherine.

After the Fall (1964) – is a deeply personal view of Arthur Miller's own experiences during his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. The main character is Quentin, a New York City Jewish intellectual who decides to re-examine his life, in order to determine whether or not he should marry his most recent love, Holga.

Resurrection Blues (2002) – is a dark comedy set in an unidentified South American country. The plot revolves around a prisoner who may or may not be the second coming of Christ.

Moliere was the pen name of the 17th century French playwright Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed at the Comédie-Française in Paris more often than those of any other playwright today.

L'école des femmes (The School for Wives, 1662) – follows Arnolphe, who is so frightened of women that he decides to marry his ward, Agnes, a girl entirely unacquainted with the ways of the world.

Tartuffe, ou l'Imposteur, or The Hypocrite (1664) – concerns Orgon, and his mother. Orgon has allowed himself to be duped by a fraud, Tartuffe, who hypocritically pretends to be pious and holier-than-thou, but is really a scoundrel.

Le Misanthrope (1666) – Alceste has become disenchanted with the ways of society. He is tired of the dishonesty and superficial dealings of people in the court of France, and he wants people to speak their mind sincerely. He is madly in love with Celimene, the personification of everything he despises.

L’Avare (The Miser, 1668) – tells the story of Harpagon, a miserly man that hopes to steal his son’s lover away from him.

Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (The Bourgeois Gentleman, 1670) – satirizes attempts at social climbing and the bourgeois personality. The play takes place at Mr. Jourdain's house in Paris. The music was composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully.

Le Malade Imaginaire (The Hypochondriac, 1673) – was Moliere’s last work. The play focuses on a man named Argan who is so overly worried about his health that he gets taken advantage of by several crooked French doctors. Moliere died on 17 February 1673 shortly after becoming ill whilst performing in this play.

John Mortimer - A Voyage Round My Father (1963) is an autobiographical play that first appeared on radio.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles

Bill NaughtonAlfie (1963) recounts the life of Alfie Elkins. Adapted into a 1966 film starring Michael Caine.

Peter Nichols

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1967) – centres on Bri and Sheila, who are struggling to save their marriage whilst trying to raise their only child, a girl named Josephine, who suffers with cerebral palsy.

Privates on Parade (1977) – follows a military concert party known as SADUSEA – Song & Dance Unit South East Asia – touring Singapore and Malaysia in the late 1940s.

Lynn Nottage is an American playwright. She is the only woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice.

Intimate Apparel (2003) – is set in New York City in 1905 and concerns a young African-American woman who travels to New York to pursue her dreams, becoming an independent woman as a seamstress.

Ruined (2007) – is set in a small tin mining town in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and follows a businesswoman protecting and profiting from the women she shelters. Awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Sweat (2015) – describes the betrayal and resentments of striking female factory workers in an era of industrial decline. Awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Sean O'Casey was an Irish playwright best known for the Dublin trilogy –

The Shadow of a Gunman (1923) – centres on the mistaken identity of Donal Davoren, a building tenant who is thought to be an IRA assassin.

Juno and the Paycock (1924) – is set in the tenements of Dublin in 1922. Juno Boyle desperately tries to hold her family together in the face of adversity and misfortune. However, her husband, Jack Boyle, would rather spend his time drinking with his pal, Joxer, than try to look for work and help the family. The word "paycock" is the Irish pronunciation of "peacock", which is what Juno accuses her husband of being.

The Plough and the Stars (1926) is set in a Dublin tenement before and after the 1916 Easter Rising. The play's title references the Starry Plough flag which was used by the Irish Citizen Army.

Eugene O’Neill was an American playwright. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1936 and the Pulitzer Prize for drama on four occasions.

Anna Christie (1920) – is the story of a former prostitute who falls in love, but runs into difficulty in turning her life around.

The Emperor Jones (1920) – tells the tale of Brutus Jones, an African American and a former Pullman porter, who kills another black man in a dice game, is jailed, and later escapes to a small, backward Caribbean island where he sets himself up as emperor.

Mourning Becomes Electra (1931) – is a retelling of the Oresteia by Aeschylus. It is divided into three plays – Homecoming, The Hunted, and The Haunted. Electra from the Oresteia becomes Lavinia Mannon.

The Iceman Cometh (1940) – is a depiction of a collection of alcoholics in a run-down New York City boarding house run by Harry Hope. The saloon regulars numb themselves with whiskey and make grandiose plans but they do nothing. They await the arrival of big-spending Theodore Hickman.

Long Day’s Journey into Night (1941) – was first performed in 1956. Semi-autobiographical play that follows a turbulent day in the life of the Tyrone family in a Connecticut summer house in 1912.

A Moon for the Misbegotten (1943) – is a sequel to Long Day's Journey into Night. Jim Tyrone (based on O’Neill’s older brother Jamie) grasps at a last chance at love under the full moonlight.

Clifford Odets

Waiting for Lefty (1935) – debut play, composed of seven vignettes. Framed by a meeting of cab drivers who are planning a labour strike.

Awake and Sing! (1935) – concerns the Berger family who struggle to maintain some respectability and self-esteem in the Bronx while grappling with the anxiety produced by economic collapse.

Joe Orton was a writer of black comedies. Aged 34, Orton was bludgeoned to death by Kenneth Halliwell at their home in Islington in 1967. Halliwell then killed himself with a drug overdose.

Entertaining Mr Sloane (1964) – is a black comedy. Mr Sloane comes into the house of Kath, her brother Ed, and her father Kemp, looking to rent a room. It doesn’t take long before both Kath and Ed become infatuated with Sloane.

Loot (1965) – is an extremely dark farce which satirises the Roman Catholic Church, social attitudes to death, and the integrity of the police force. Follows the fortunes of two young thieves, Hal and Dennis.

What the Butler Saw (1967) – final play. First performed in 1969. Set in the sexually charged private clinic of psychiatrist, Dr. Prentice.

John Osborne was a British playwright. His play Look Back in Anger spawned the term "angry young men" to describe Osborne and those of his generation who employed the harshness of realism in the theatre in contrast to the more escapist theatre that characterised the previous generation. This harsh realism has led to Look Back in Anger being considered one of the first examples of kitchen sink drama in theatre.

Look Back in Anger (1956) – follows Jimmy and Alison Porter, as they attempt to navigate class conflict and deal with a deteriorating marriage in 1950s England. Alison comes from a traditional upper-class background. Jimmy comes from a working-class background, though he is highly educated.

The Entertainer (1957) – deals with Archie Rice, a showman in his fifties who refuses to adapt to the changing times.

Inadmissible Evidence (1964) – portrays the collapse of solicitor Bill Maitland, an angry but sad man, who cannot maintain decent standards in his life and antagonises everybody.

Arthur Wing Pinero

The Second Mrs Tanqueray (1893) – concerns widower Aubrey Tanqueray, who marries Paula Jarman, a “woman with a past”.

Trelawny of the Wells (1898) – tells the story of Rose Trelawny, who is an actress in a theatrical troupe known as the “Wells” (a thinly disguised Sadler's Wells Theatre).

Luigi Pirandello was an Italian writer who was awarded the 1934 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921) – is an absurdist play about the relationship among authors, their characters, and theatre practitioners. The characters are The Father, The Mother, The Stepdaughter, The Son, The Boy, and the Child. The Father explains to the Director of a play that they are unfinished characters in search of an author to finish their story.

For other works by this author see: Novels - World

Harold Pinter was a British author who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005. He also composed 27 screenplays and film scripts for cinema and television.

The Birthday Party (1957) – first full-length play, classified as a ‘comedy of menace’. Concerns Stanley Webber, a piano player who lives in a rundown boarding house run by Meg and Petey Boles, in an English seaside town. Two sinister strangers, Goldberg and McCann, arrive looking for him, supposedly on his birthday.

The Dumb Waiter (1959) – concerns two hit men, Ben and Gus, who are waiting in a basement room for their next assignment. But as they await instructions, they start to receive strange messages via a dumb waiter.

The Caretaker (1960) – was Pinter’s first commercially successful production. There are three main characters – Aston, who lives in a flat owned by his brother, Mick, and Davies, an older man who lives as a tramp.

The Homecoming (1964) – is a play about the disruption caused to an all-male household when Teddy, a long-absent son, brings his glamorous wife, Ruth, home to meet the family.

Old Times (1971) – has only three characters: a man named Deeley, his wife Kate, and Anna, a friend of Kate's whom they have not seen for twenty years.

Betrayal (1978) – was inspired by Pinter’s affair with Joan Bakewell. Starts in 1977 when long time lovers Jerry and Emma meet after her marriage to her husband Robert dissolves, and then backtracks all the way to 1968 when their affair first began.

Dennis Potter is best known for his television plays. He only produced one play exclusively for theatrical performance (Sufficient Carbohydrate, 1983)

Lucy Prebble

Enron (2009) – concerns the financial scandal and collapse of Enron, the American energy corporation based in Texas.

The Effect (2012) – deals with the impact anti-depressants can have on emotions and character.

J(ohn) B(oynton) Priestley

The Good Companions (1931) – is a play based on Priestley’s own novel about a touring concert party. Co-written with Edward Knoblock.

Dangerous Corner (1932) – in which a character's reference to a single object (a cigarette box) sets off a seemingly endless number of associations for the six characters at Freda and Robert Caplan’s country home.

Time and the Conways (1937) – deals with different theories of time, and how time is experienced. The play focuses on the Conways, a wealthy family living in a prosperous suburb.

An Inspector Calls (1945) – takes place on a single night in 1912, focusing on the prosperous middle-class Birling family who are visited by a man calling himself Inspector Goole.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles / Literature - Non-Fiction

Alexander Pushkin Boris Godunov (1825) – follows Russian ruler Boris Godunov, who reigned as Tsar from 1598 to 1605. Adapted into an opera by Modest Mussorgsky.

For other works by this author see: Novels - World / Historical Fiction / Poetry

Jean Racine was a French dramatist, one of the ‘big three’ of 17th century France, along with Moliere and Corneille. He was primarily a tragedian but did write one comedy, Les Plaideurs (1668).

Andromache (1667) – takes place in the aftermath of the Trojan War, during which Andromache's husband Hector has been slain by Achilles.

Britannicus (1669) – concerns the son of the Roman emperor Claudius, and heir to the imperial throne.

Berenice (1670) – following the death of Vespasian, Titus wants to marry Berenice, the queen of Palestine but the Romans find this match undesirable.

Phaedra (1677) – tells the story of Phaedra, wife of King Theseus of Athens and her consuming lust for her stepson Hippolytus.

Athaliah (1691) – final play. Concerns the daughter of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.

Terence Rattigan

The Winslow Boy (1946) – is based on a father's fight to clear his son's name after the boy is expelled from Osborne Naval College for stealing a five-shilling postal order.

The Browning Version (1948) – is about a classical master at an English public school who has been forced from his position due to his ill health. A student named Taplow gives him a small going-away gift – a copy of the translation by Robert Browning of Aeschylus's play Agamemnon.

The Deep Blue Sea (1952) – tells the story of Hester Collyer, the wife of a High Court judge, who is caught in a self-destructive love affair with a Royal Air Force pilot.

Separate Tables (1954) – is the collective name for two plays set in the Beauregard Hotel in Bournemouth: Table by the Window, that focuses on the troubled relationship between a disgraced Labour politician and his ex-wife; and Table Number Seven, that deals with the friendship between a repressed spinster and Major Pollock, a kindly but bogus man posing as an upper-class retired army officer. David Niven won the 1958 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Major Pollock in the film adaptation.

Ross (1960) – is a biographical play about T. E. Lawrence and his time in the Royal Air Force.

Cause Celebre (1975) – last play. Originally a radio play. Inspired by the trial of Alma Rattenbury and her teenage lover in 1935 for the murder of her third husband Francis Rattenbury.

Mark Ravenhill

Shopping and Fucking (1996) – first full-length play. The four main characters (Mark, Robbie, Gary, and Lulu) take their names from pop stars, and the play shows them buying, selling and stealing whatever they can – drugs, sex and ready meals.

The Cut (2006) – refers to surgery that cures a patient or victim from desire, or maybe even personality.

Yasmina Reza is a French playwright.

‘Art’ (1994) – concerns three friends in Paris who fall out after one of them buys an expensive piece of modern art.

God of Carnage (2006) – concerns two married couples who meet to discuss a scuffle between their sons and become increasingly childish themselves. Won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Play.

Arnold Ridley was a playwright who later in life played Private Godfrey in Dad’s Army.

The Ghost Train (1923) – centres upon the social interaction of a group of railway passengers who have been stranded at a remote rural station overnight.

Edmond Rostand was a French poet and dramatist associated with neo-romanticism.

Cyrano de Bergerac (1897) – concerns the life of a real 17th century French author who had a very large nose. The entire play is written in verse. Concentrates on Cyrano's love for the beautiful Roxane. Cyrano’s last word is “panache”.

Sarah Ruhl

Eurydice (2003) – retells the myth of Orpheus from the perspective of Eurydice.

The Clean House (2004) – is centered on Matilde, a Brazilian cleaning woman who would rather be a comedienne.

In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play, 2009) – concerns the early history of the vibrator.

Willy Russell

Educating Rita (1980) – follows Susan, a hairdresser from Liverpool who is dissatisfied with her life and signs up for an Open University course in English Literature. Her tutor is Frank, a middle-aged, alcoholic career academic. Adapted into a 1983 film starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters.

Shirley Valentine – follows a middle-aged housewife who flies to Greece for a two-week holiday. Adapted into a 1989 film starring Pauline Collins.

Friedrich Schiller was a German playwright, poet, and philosopher. He was involved with the Weimar Classicism movement along with Goethe.

The Robbers (1781) – debut play. Concerns the rivalry between the aristocratic brothers Karl and Franz, both of whom operate outside conventional morality.

Don Carlos (1787) – is the story of King Philip II of Spain and his abused, love-tormented son, Don Carlos.

The Wallenstein Trilogy (completed in 1799) – is a series of three plays that address the decline of the general Albrecht von Wallenstein, based loosely on actual historical events during the Thirty Years' War: Wallenstein's Camp (Wallensteins Lager), The Piccolomini (Die Piccolomini), and Wallenstein's Death (Wallensteins Tod).

Mary Stuart (1800) – depicts the last days of Mary, Queen of Scots.

William Tell (1804) – focuses on the legend of William Tell. Adapted into an opera of the same name by Rossini.

For other works by this author see: Poetry

Anthony Shaffer was an English playwright and was the identical twin brother of Peter Shaffer.

Sleuth (1970) – is set in the house of Andrew Wyke, a famous author who invites Milo Trindle, his wife’s lover, to the house. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play.

Peter Shaffer

The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1964) – is a historical drama. Francisco Pizarro enters the Inca Empire and captures its leader, Atahualpa.

Equus (1973) – tells the story of psychiatrist Martin Dysart, who attempts to treat Alan Strang, a stable lad who has blinded six horses.

Amadeus (1979) – a fictional account of the lives of composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. Winner on the 1981 Tony Award for Best Play. Adapted into a 1984 film directed by Milos Forman.

George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin and wrote more than 60 plays. He was the first person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) and an Academy Award (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion.

Widowers’ Houses (1892) – first play.

Mrs Warren’s Profession (1893) – concerns Kitty Warren, a former prostitute, now a brothel-keeper, who attempts to come to terms with her disapproving daughter, Vivie.

Arms and the Man (1894) – is a comedy showing the futility of war that takes place during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War. The title is taken from Virgil's Aeneid.

Caesar and Cleopatra (1898) – depicts a fictionalized account of the relationship between Julius Caesar and Cleopatra VII of Egypt.

Man and Superman (1902) – centres on Ann Whitefield, a graceful and intelligent young woman. Ann’s father has just died, leaving behind a will instructing that two men become her caretakers. The first man, Roebuck Ramsden, is an elderly civil servant. The second, Jack Turner, is a well-educated young man who espouses anarchistic ideas. Shaw modelled Turner on Don Juan.

Major Barbara (1905) – deals with the validity of religious and charitable organizations. Major Barbara Undershaft, an officer of The Salvation Army, becomes disillusioned when the Salvation Army accepts money from her father, who is an armaments manufacturer. Set in a shelter in West Ham.

The Doctor’s Dilemma (1906) – concerns Colenso Ridgeon, who has developed a revolutionary new cure for tuberculosis. However, his private medical practice can only treat ten patients at a time. From a group of fifty patients he has selected ten he believes he can cure and who, he believes, are most worthy of being saved.

Androcles and the Lion (1912) – retells the fable about a Christian slave who pulls a thorn from a lion's paw and is spared from death in the Colosseum as a result of his kind act.

Pygmalion (1912) – premiered in Vienna. The story concerns Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from Professor Henry Higgins, a phonetician, so that she may pass as a lady. The part of Eliza Doolittle was played by Mrs. Patrick Campbell in the West End premiere. Adapted into the musical and film My Fair Lady.

Back to Methuselah (1922) – tackles human history in five parts starting with Adam and Eve and finishing 30,000 years in the future. It concerns Bernard Shaw’s vision of immortality.

Saint Joan (1923) – is a play about Joan of Arc and is set between 1429 and 1431. The play was written with Sybil Thorndike in mind.

For other works by this author see: Literature - Non-Fiction

Richard Brinsley Sheridan was an Irish playwright and owner of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He was also a Whig MP.

The Rivals (1775) – debut play. Comedy of manners, set in Bath. Jack Absolute pretends to be "Ensign Beverley", a poor army officer, in order to woo Lydia Languish. Lydia has two other suitors: Bob Acres and Sir Lucius O'Trigger. Mrs. Malaprop is Lydia’s guardian and the origin of the word “malapropism”.

The School for Scandal (1777) – presents a scathing look of the conceits and questionable morality of the upper classes in 18th century England. The aptly named Lady Sneerwell sets herself the target of ruining the lives and reputations of others for her own gain.

The Critic (1779) – is based on George Villiers' The Rehearsal. It concerns misadventures that arise when an author, Mr Puff, invites Sir Fretful Plagiary and the theatre critics Dangle and Sneer to a rehearsal of his play The Spanish Armada.

R(obert) C(edric) Sherriff - Journey’s End (1928) tells the story of several British army officers involved in trench warfare during World War I.

Neil Simon was a playwright and screenwriter. He has received more combined Oscar and Tony Award nominations than any other writer.

Come Blow Your Horn (1961) – debut play. Tells the story of Buddy Baker who leaves his parents’ home for the bachelor pad of his older brother Alan who is a ladies' man.

Barefoot in the Park (1963) – is a romantic comedy that takes place on the fifth floor of a New York apartment building that does not have an elevator. Corie, a free-spirited young woman, and Paul Bratter, a conservative, uptight man, are a recently married couple who move into the apartment.

The Odd Couple (1965) – concerns two roommates: the neat, uptight Felix Ungar who has been thrown out by his wife, and the slovenly, easygoing Oscar Madison. Adapted into a 1966 film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

Eugene trilogy – is a semi-autobiographical account of Neil Simon's own early life and career. Tells the story of Eugene Jerome. The plays in the trilogy are Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983), Biloxi Blues (1985), and Broadway Bound (1986).

Aaron Sorkin is an American playwright, screenwriter, and film director.

A Few Good Men (1989) – tells the story of military lawyers at a court-martial who uncover a high-level conspiracy in the course of defending their clients, two United States Marines accused of murder following the death of Private Santiago as the result of a punishment labeled a "Code Red" at a US naval base in Guantanamo Bay.

The Farnsworth Invention (2007) – tells the story of Philo Farnsworth, who made many contributions to the development of the television.

Wole Soyinka was born in Nigeria. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Death and the King’s Horseman (1975) – is based on a real incident that took place in Nigeria during the colonial era: the horseman of a Yoruba King was prevented from committing ritual suicide by the colonial authorities.

Tom Stoppard was born in Czechoslovakia as Tomáš Straussler. He is a playwright and Academy Award-winning screenwriter.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1966) – is an absurdist tragicomedy. Set in Denmark, the play expands upon the exploits of two minor characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet, the courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1968.

Jumpers (1972) – explores and satirizes the field of academic philosophy. It is set in an alternative reality where British astronauts have landed on the moon.

Travesties (1974) – is set in Zurich during World War I. Imagines the interactions of three famous revolutionaries: Vladimir Lenin, James Joyce, and Tristan Tzara. The interactions take place in the memory of Henry Wilfred Carr, a British diplomat.

The Real Thing (1982) – focuses on the relationship between Henry and Annie, an actress and member of a group fighting to free Brodie, a Scottish soldier imprisoned for burning a memorial wreath during a protest.

Arcadia (1993) – is a comedy about the lives and preoccupations of the inhabitants of Sidley Park, Derbyshire in the early 19th and late 20th centuries. One time period is trying to predict the future, the other trying to reconstruct the past. The basic focus is on the relationship between science and art, between the rational and romantic, about chaos theory, and sex.

The Invention of Love (1997) – portrays the life of poet A. E. Housman.

The Coast of Utopia (2002) – is a trilogy of plays: Voyage, Shipwreck, and Salvage focusing on the philosophical debates in pre-revolution Russia between 1833 and 1866. Won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2007.

Rock ‘n’ Roll (2006) – is concerned with the significance of rock and roll in the emergence of the socialist movement in Eastern Bloc Czechoslovakia between the Prague Spring of 1968 and the Velvet Revolution of 1989. The underground Czech group The Plastic People of the Universe are held up as an ideal of resistance to Communism.

August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright who wrote more than sixty plays.

The Father (1887) – concerns a man who is driven mad by doubts concerning his parenthood. Captain Adolph, an officer of the cavalry, and his wife, Laura, have a disagreement regarding the education of their daughter Bertha.

Miss Julie (1888) – takes place on a midsummer eve. In the absence of her father, a nobleman, Julie initiates a psychological battle with Jean, the valet, that culminates in his sexual triumph.

Creditors (1889) – is a naturalistic tragicomedy with three characters – Adolph (an artist), Tekla (his wife, who is a novelist), and Gustav (a teacher).

To Damascus (1898) – is a trilogy. Strindberg depicts himself as “the Stranger,” a wanderer seeking spiritual peace and finding it with another character, “the Lady”.

The Dance of Death (1900) – refers to two plays, The Dance of Death I, and The Dance of Death II. Edgar and Alice, embittered husband and wife, duel with each other until one is utterly defeated.

A Dream Play (1902) – is an expressionist drama. The central character is the supernatural Daughter of Indra, who descends to Earth to bear witness to problems of human beings.

The Ghost Sonata (1908) – is an example of a chamber play. Mr. Arkenholz, a poor student, chances on a rich old invalid and is invited to a ghost supper where adultery, murder, deceit and betrayal are stripped bare in the house of the living dead.

For other works by this author see: Novels - World

John Millington Synge

Riders to the Sea (1904) – is set in the Aran Islands and is based on the struggle against the cruelty of the sea. Ralph Vaughan Williams made an almost verbatim setting of the play as an opera using the same title.

The Playboy of the Western World (1907) – is set in Michael James Flaherty's public house in County Mayo during the early 1900s. It tells the story of Christy Mahon, a young man running away from his farm, claiming he killed his father. Riots occurred in January 1907 during and following the opening performance of the play at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

Tom Taylor - Our American Cousin (1858) is a farce featuring American Asa Trenchard, who is introduced to his aristocratic English relatives when he goes to England to claim the family estate. The character Lord Dundreary gave his name to the form of exaggeratedly bushy sideburns called dundreary whiskers. Abraham Lincoln was watching the play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in April 1865. Booth knew the play and waited to time his shot to coincide with the line "Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal; you sockdologizing old man-trap!" which always brought a big laugh from the audience.

Peter Terson - Zigger Zagger (1967) is a play about football hooliganism.

Brandon Thomas - Charley’s Aunt (1892) is a farce. The story centres on Lord Fancourt Babberley, an undergraduate whose friends Jack and Charley persuade him to impersonate the latter's aunt. It broke all historic records for plays of any kind, with an original London run of 1,466 performances.

Dylan Thomas

Under Milk Wood (1954) – is a play for BBC radio, which was later adapted for the stage. Set in the fictional small Welsh fishing village Llareggub (“bugger all” backwards). Characters include: Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard, Captain Cat, Organ Morgan, and Polly Garter. First line: “To begin at the beginning”.

For other works by this author see: Poetry

Jack Thorne - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016) is based on an original story by Thorne, J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany. The story begins nineteen years after the last novel and follows Harry Potter, now Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Magic, and his younger son, Albus Severus Potter, who is about to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Ben Travers wrote a series of Aldwych farces, performed at the Aldwych Theatre from 1923 to 1933.

A Cuckoo in the Nest (1925) – concerns an unmarried couple who are obliged to share a hotel bed. The divorce laws of the time took it for granted that any unmarried couple who spent the night together must be guilty of adultery.

Nicholas Udall - Ralph Roister Doister (c. 1553) is a comic play, generally regarded as the first comedy to be written in the English language.

John Vanbrugh was an architect and playwright. A committed Whig, he was a member of the Kit-Cat Club. He was part of the scheme to overthrow James II and put William III on the throne and was imprisoned by the French for four and a half years as a political prisoner.

The Relapse (1696) – is a sequel to Colley Cibber's Love's Last Shift. A Restoration rake succumbs to temptation and has a new love affair.

The Provoked Wife (1697) – was controversial due to its themes of marital adultery. Lady Brute seeks distractions from her rude, boorish and drunken husband Sir John Brute. Theirs, it seems, is a marriage of convenience: wed for sex and wealth respectively. It is sometimes claimed that Vanbrugh wrote part of the play while imprisoned in the Bastille.

Keith Waterhouse

Billy Liar (1960) – is based on his own book of the same name which he then turned into a stage play co-written with Willis Hall.

Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell (1989) – is based on the louche life of London journalist Jeffrey Bernard.

John Webster was a Jacobean dramatist. His life and career overlapped with William Shakespeare's.

The White Devil (1612) – is based on the assassination of the Italian noblewoman Vittoria Accoramboni, and follows the illicit affair between Vittoria and the Duke Bracciano, with their actions resulting in an epic and bloody end.

The Duchess of Malfi (c. 1613) – is loosely based on the life of the Duchess of Almafi, Giovanna d'Aragona. The play follows two corrupt brothers as they take revenge on their sister for marrying below her class.

Arnold Wesker was a Jewish playwright, born in London.

The Kitchen (1957) – debut play. Follows the staff in a cafe's kitchen. His inspiration for the play came when he was working at a hotel in Norwich.

Chicken Soup with Barley (1958) – spans twenty years of the lives of the Jewish, immigrant Kahn family living in 1936 in London, and traces the downfall of their communist ideals.

Roots (1959) – is a kitchen sink drama based in Norfolk.

Chips with Everything (1962) – examines the nature of class consciousness in post-war Britain. Pip Thompson has been conscripted for National Service in the RAF, but prefers to be treated as an ordinary airman and not become an officer.

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. Full name Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde. He was sentenced to two years' hard labour for gross indecency for consensual homosexual acts. He died from meningitis aged 46.

Vera; or, The Nihilists (1880) – debut play. loosely based on the life of Russian socialist activist Vera Zasulich.

The Duchess of Padua (1883) – is written in blank verse. The title character is Beatrice Gesso.

Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) – is subtitled A Play about a Good Woman. Concerns Lady Windermere, who suspects that her husband is having an affair with Mrs. Erlynne.

A Woman of No Importance (1893) – satirises English upper-class society. The play centres on the character of Mrs Arbuthnot, who is secretly a ‘fallen woman’ whose son Gerald was born out of wedlock, although she is very devout and maintains the pretence of being a respectable widow.

An Ideal Husband (1895) – revolves around blackmail and political corruption. Sir Robert Chiltern must stop his wife from finding out that he’s built his entire career on selling out political secrets.

The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) – is subtitled A Trivial Comedy for Serious People. Concerns two gentlemen, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, pretending to be people other than themselves. Lady Bracknell is Gwendolen’s mother. Jack Worthing’s real name is Ernest. Bunbury is the imaginary friend of Algernon. Miss Prism confesses that she inadvertently left a baby in her handbag at Victoria Station.

Salome (1896) – is based on the New Testament story. Originally written in French. First English text edition of the play was illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley.

For other works by this author see: Novels - British Isles / Poetry / Literature - Childrens

Thornton Wilder

Our Town (1938) – tells the story of the fictional community of Grover's Corners, modeled on several New Hampshire towns, between 1901 and 1913 through the everyday lives of its citizens. Won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Skin of Our Teeth (1942) – is an allegory about the history of mankind told through the story of one family, the Antrobuses from New Jersey, who lived through a new ice age, a great flood, and a devastating war. The title comes from the Book of Job in the Bible. Won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

For other works by this author see: Novels - USA

Tennessee Williams was born in Mississippi. Moved to New Orleans in 1939.

The Glass Menagerie (1944) – is a memory play narrated by Tom Wingfield, who works in a warehouse to support his mother, Amanda, and his sister, Laura. Set in 1930s St Louis. Amanda, sensing that Tom wants to leave, tries to make a deal with him. If Tom and Amanda can find a husband for Laura, a man who can take care of her, then Tom will be free of his responsibility to them.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) – Stanley and Stella Kowalski live in a small apartment in New Orleans. Blanche DuBois, Stella’s sister, is a former Southern belle who has lost her family home. She moves into the apartment as she is broke and had nowhere to go. Desire is a district of New Orleans. Won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Rose Tattoo (1951) – is set in a Sicilian immigrant community in New Orleans. Tells the story of Serafina Delle Rose, who has allowed herself to withdraw from the world after her husband’s death and expects her daughter to do the same. Won a Tony award in 1951 for Best Play.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955) – is the story of a Southern family in crisis, focusing on the turbulent relationship of a husband and wife, Brick and Maggie (‘The Cat’) Pollitt. Set in the plantation home in the Mississippi Delta of Big Daddy Pollitt, a wealthy cotton tycoon. Won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Night of the Iguana (1961) – is centered on a disgraced former minister, Lawrence T. Shannon, who has been barred from his church after defaming God.

August Wilson is best known for a series of ten plays, collectively called The Pittsburgh Cycle, which chronicle the experiences and heritage of the African-American community in the 20th century, Includes the plays –

Fences (1984) – focuses on Troy, a 53-year-old working-class head of household and former baseball player who struggles with providing for his family. Won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 1987 Tony Award for Best Play.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1984) – is set in a Chicago music studio the 1920s when blues singer Ma Rainey joins her band for a recording session. The title comes from Ma Rainey's song of the same name, which refers to the Black Bottom dance.

The Piano Lesson (1987) – concerns the Charles family from Pittsburgh, who quarrel over whether to sell a piano that was once traded by the family’s white master for two of the family’s ancestors. Won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

William Wycherley was an English dramatist of the Restoration period.

The Country Wife (1675) – follows Harry Horner, a notorious womanizer, who spreads a rumour that he has accidentally been made impotent. He persuades his doctor to spread this story all over town, hoping that gullible men will leave their wives, sisters, and daughters with Horner without suspicion that he might seduce them.

The Plain Dealer (1676) – is based on Moliere's Le Misanthrope. Captain Manly returns to London after his ship had been sunk in a battle with the Dutch. He is looking for another ship because he dislikes the hypocrisy of the age. Manly is in pursuit of the beautiful Olivia, a wealthy woman who is just as misanthropic as he is.