Play-reading Recordings

In this space, we will publish videos every week from our evenings of online play-reading that we held in September, November and December so that you can have a taste of theatre even in these difficult times when we can’t physically go to one.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST’
BY OSCAR WILDE
Performed by Lucy Jepson and Charlotte Creasey

First performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James’s Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personae to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play’s major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways.

THE RIVALS’
BY RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN
Performed by David Gelipter and Lynda Liddament

This comedy in five acts was first performed at Covent Garden Theatre on 17 January 1775. The play is set in 18th-century Bath, a town that was legendary for conspicuous consumption and fashion at the time. The plot centres on the romantic difficulties of Lydia Languish, who is determined to marry for love and into poverty. Realizing this, the aristocratic Captain Jack Absolute woos her while claiming to be Ensign Beverley. But her aunt, Mrs. Malaprop, will not permit her to wed a mere ensign, and Lydia will lose half her fortune if she marries without her aunt’s permission.

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW’
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Performed by Lucy Jepson and Oliver Jenkinson

This comedy is believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592. The main plot depicts the courtship of Petruchio and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew. Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship; however, Petruchio “tames” her with various psychological torments, such as keeping her from eating and drinking, until she becomes a desirable, compliant, and obedient bride.

‘ROSMERSHOLM’
BY HENRIK IBSEN
Performed by Mira Lieberman and Nick Lewis

‘Rosmersholm’ which was first performed in 1887 has been described as one of Ibsen’s most complex, subtle, multilayered and ambiguous plays. The play’s plot revolves around ex-parson Johannes Rosmer, a representative of high ethical standards, and his housekeeper, the adventuress Rebecca West. Both are haunted by the spirit of Rosmer’s late wife who committed suicide – and we will tell you no more to avoid spoilers!

‘NAMING OF PARTS’
BY HENRY REED
Performed by Nick Lewis

Our latest evening of readings took place on 11 November – Remembrance Day. So it seems appropriate that we should begin our selection of recordings from that evening with Nick Lewis reading ‘Naming of parts’, a poem by Henry Reed (1914-1986).

‘AS YOU LIKE IT’
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Performed by
Lucy Jepson and Oliver Jenkinson

This pastoral comedy is believed to have been written in 1599. The story is about Rosalind and her cousin who escape into the forest and find Orlando, Rosalind’s love. Disguised as a boy shepherd, Rosalind has Orlando woo her under the guise of “curing” him of his love for Rosalind. In this particular scene, Rosalind dressed as a boy interrogates Orlando to find out who has been marking her name on the trees as tokens of love.

‘GOING TO POT’
BY GEORGES FEYDEAU
Performed by
Robin Purshouse, Lesley Cottingham and Jana Kalalova

In this comedy, an aspiring contractor for the French war department (he wants to supply every solider with a chamber pot) falls victim to a series of disasters that are all more-or-less the result of his young son’s constipation.

‘LACEY’S LAST CHANCE’
BY GABRIEL DAVIS
Performed by
Lesley Cottingham

In this modern one act play published in 2012, Lacey yearns for lasting love but has the unfortunate habit of – when the going gets tough – killing her partners.

‘A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES’
BY DYLAN THOMAS
Performed by
Richard Carwardine

This piece of prose by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was recorded by Thomas in 1952. Emerging from an earlier piece he wrote for BBC Radio, the work is an anecdotal reminiscence of a Christmas from the viewpoint of a young boy, portraying a nostalgic and simpler time.

‘CLOSER’
BY PATRICK MARBER
Performed by
Rachel Bray, Nick Lewis and Richard Davies

Closer is an Olivier award-winning play from 1997 about modern relationships and sexual politics in which a quartet of strangers meet, fall in love, and become caught up in a web of sexual desire and betrayal. The opening scene introduces us to three of the four characters. If you like the scene, you might be interested to know that in 2004, this play was adapted for a film of the same name, starring Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Clive Owen.

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