Title: Plays: Volume Three
Author: David Hare
Page Count/Review Word Count: 463
To say that David Hare is my favourite playwright would be pretentious – I don’t really go to watch plays and I don’t often read them either, but there’s a particular play in this collection that caught my eye after a TV adaptation of it starring Uma Thurman, Paddy Considine and Jonathan Pryce. The critics panned the adaptation, but I loved it and enjoyed it enough for me to want to read a bit of Hare’s work.
The title of that TV adaptation was ‘My Zinc Bed‘, and that’s one of the four plays that are featured here. It follows the story of Paul Peplow, a journalist and member of Alcoholics Anonymous who meets the wealthy Victor Quinn for an interview. He goes on to meet Quinn’s wife, Elsa, and when he finds out that she’s also a recovering alcoholic, they hit it off. The rest is history, but you’re going to have to read the play to find out why!
My favouritism for My Zinc Bed carries over in to this collection of plays, but the other three plays are excellent too. Skylight was fairly forgettable, and it’s more notable for its run at the Vaudeville Theatre starring Bill Nighy and the fact that the actress cooks a spaghetti dinner live on stage than it is for its actual story-line. Amy’s View, meanwhile, is set over s period of sixteen years across four acts, and it’s a gripping story that highlights some of the issues that Hare sees in society.
Finally, The Judas Kiss covers Oscar Wilde‘s infamous fall from glory, including his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas (also known as Bosie), his subsequent imprisonment and his exile abroad. I’m not a huge Oscar Wilde fan, but I like his work enough to want to read all of it, and I’ve read maybe three or four plays over the years – this, then, seemed like a fitting tribute to him, from one playwright to another.
Now, I haven’t read any other collections of Hare’s plays, but that’s more because they’re expensive than because I don’t have the desire to do it. Unfortunately, that also means that I can’t compare this book to his others, but I can tell you that if his other collections are better than this then all of them are definitely worth reading, even if you’re not much of a play lover. Another bonus here is the formatting and the size of the print – it’s easy on the eyes and you’ll whizz through it. Better still, read the play and then go and watch it being performed on the stage – see if it matches up to your expectations and your imagination.