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Quartermaine's Terms

Quartermaine's Terms
Your Price: $15.95 CDN
Author: Simon Gray
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 50
Pub. Date: 1984
ISBN-10: 0573113645
ISBN-13: 9780573113642
Cast Size: 2 women, 5 men

About the Play:

Quartermaine's Terms was named by the Royal National Theatre of Britain as one of the best 100 plays of the 20th century.

Quartermaine's Terms is a full-length dramatic comedy by Simon Gray. Never has the celebrated author of Butley and Otherwise Engaged been more amusing and more touching than in this thoroughly delightful portrait of a mediocre but lovable English schoolteacher named St. John Quartermaine and his fellow faculty who gravitate between classes the staff room of their small school in Cambridge which teaches English to foreigners.

Quartermaine's Terms takes place over a period of two years in the 1960s in the staff room at a Cambridge school for teaching English to foreigners. It deals with the interrelationship between seven teachers at the school. At the heart of the group is St. John (pronounced 'Sinjon') Quartermaine, a kind-hearted, pleasant and agreeable person, but utterly hopeless as a teacher himself. An almost permanent feature in the staff room, he's always available to listen to the problems of his self-obsessed colleagues. But when a new Principal is appointed, Quartermaine's future looks precarious. This probing classic is an artful portrait of doom and gloom blended with bristling wit and dry, even uproarious comedy.

Quartermaine's Terms premiered in 1981 at the Queen's Theatre in London, directed by Harold Pinter, and won The Cheltenham Prize. Since then the play had regional premieres at professional theatres across the UK and the US and has been performed in regional repertory, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 2 women, 5 men

What people say:

"A masterly portrayal of an innocent." — Harold Pinter

"A play that is at once full of doom and gloom and bristling with wry, even uproarious comedy. The mixture is so artfully balanced that we really don't know where the laughter ends and the tears begin: the playwright is in full possession of that Checkhovian territory where the tragedies and absurdities become one and the same.... The brave little lives that Mr. Gray so compassionately illuminates could be lived by any of us, and that's why they arouse emotions that are anything but small." — The New York Times

"A lovely play has brushed with the unexpected laughter and autumnal sorrow of life." — Newsday

"Compassionate and funny." — Variety

"Superficially, it is a light comedy about a group of educated, often eccentric English characters in an academic backwater in the early sixties. But though the jokes are excellent, the piece cuts deep. There are Strindberg-like glimpses of wretchedly unhappy marriages and, as in Ibsen, a sense of chickens coming home to roost. But the primary impression here is of an English Chekhov. As in the plays of the Russian master, the characters talk a lot, but they rarely listen, still less understand, so they are often at cross-purposes. And like The Seagull, the long time scheme in Quartermaine's Termsit spans several years – creates a poignant sense of transience and mortality." — Daily Telegraph

"Gray's selection of details and exchanges is immaculate: he achieves drama and mystery in mundane lives; the comedy is beautifully stated and even personal tragedies are underlined with running gags that ring with truthfulness. No false hothouse effect is necessary to make bare the bewilderment of spirit of his central figure, the grinning, forgetful and deeply kind staff lecturer, St John Quartermaine, an inarticulate character of awesome loneliness who rivals the tragic force of Willy Loman." — The Times

About the Playwright:

Simon Gray (1936-2008) was a British playwright who authored of over thirty plays. He also wrote many plays for television and radio, several novels, and eight memoirs. Simon Gray was appointed CBE in 2005 for services to drama and literature.

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