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Bloody Poetry

Bloody Poetry
Your Price: $15.95 CDN
Author: Howard Brenton
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 105
Pub. Date: 1989
ISBN-10: 0573690383
ISBN-13: 9780573690389
Cast Size: 2 women, 3 men

About the Play:

Bloody Poetry is a full-length drama by Howard Brenton. Byron, Shelley, Mary Shelley and Claire Clairemont spent one summer writing together, drinking together, sleeping together. For several years the incestuous foursome thrilled and horrified the English aristocracy. But eventually their decadent lifestyles began to destroy them… Dark, erotic and bitingly funny, Howard Brenton's Royal Court hit tells the true story of that most dangerous summer of love.

Bloody Poetry follows Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, and their lovers Mary Shelley and Claire Clairemont, into exile. This strange family, vilified for their private lives and socially banished to the Continent, try on the shores of Lake Geneva to turn creative writing into a collective practice of subversive intent and revolutionary ambition, free of repression and constraint, and filled with love and revolutionary passion. But what emerges is a fascinating tangle of disappointments. Howard Brenton stages the famous biographical events of the writers' lives – the meeting of Shelley and Byron, the stormy night when Frankenstein was conceived – deftly and lyrically. Bloody Poetry is an elegiac and fiery play about poetry and failed utopias.

Bloody Poetry premiered 1984 at the Hampstead Theatre to critical acclaim and subsequently in a revival at the Royal Court Theatre in 1988. The play has been performed in regional repertory, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 2 women, 3 men

What people say:

"Radicalism, artistic defiance, an intellectual rage. These are the virtues celebrated in this extraordinary dream play which begins, as it ends, on a foreign shore." — Financial Times

"A phantasmagoric play... Brenton is celebrating the idea of the committed artist who seeks to stir and provoke sullen, defeated, bourgeois England. At the same time with clear eyed honesty, he shows how difficult it is to upset the moral order." — The Guardian

"Howard Brenton's bold freewheeling play. Its sensitive insights into the tragicexistential predicament of this second generation of romantics." — The Independent

"Possessed of humour and a healthily moderated sense of spleen-healthy because in giving us a portrait of Romantic poetical geniuses behaving badly, it shows us how much damage crusading spirits can do." — The Daily Telegraph

"What makes the play rich is that its politics – social,sexual,aesthetic – are so fantastically messy. A work that compellingly puts flesh and blood on the bones of literary legends." — The Times

"Brenton's text is alive with romantic poetry as much as political radicalism. The play is a great reminder of the English radical tradition, and remains an enthralling account of the conflict between theory (the desires of Claire especially) and practice (the shortcomings of Shelley and Byron as regards fidelity and fatherhood).Wonderfully humorous as well as politically astute." — The Tribune

About the Playwright:

Howard Brenton is a prolific English playwright, noted for his controversial political plays of the 1970s and 80s. He became resident dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre in 1972, following on from David Hare. His plays have been staged at the Royal Court Theatre, National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare's Globe among others. Other writing work includes collaborations with David Hare and Tariq Ali. He also wrote the BBC drama series Spooks (aka MI5) and has translated many plays into English.

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