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Road

Road
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Jim Cartwright
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 70
Pub. Date: 1989
ISBN-10: 057301664X
ISBN-13: 9780573016646
Cast Size: 3 women, 4 men with doubling (or 6 women, 8 men)

About the Play:

Road was one of Royal National Theatre of Britain's top 100 plays of the 20th century.

Road is a full-length dramatic comedy by Jim Cartwright. This modern-day classic explores the lives of the people who live in an un-named road, in a deprived, working class area of Lancashire during the Thatcher government – a time of high unemployment in the north of England.

Road is a series of vignettes interspersed with monologues. It is 1987. An unpopular leader is re-elected while the country is still reeling from the effects of recession and lives in fear of terrorist attacks. Times are tough, but for the residents of a street in a deprived, working class area of Lancashire every night's a party. In the course of one wild night, a drunken, foul-mouthed, but charming guide named Scullery conducts a door by door tour of a scruffy, depressed road in a small Lancashire town. Moving from street corner to living room, from bedroom to kitchen, we meet the inhabitants of young, middle-aged, and old, glimpsing their socially and emotionally wretched lives. Road is an explicit and arresting mix of humour and pathos that explores many themes but most importantly community and the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit.

Road is the first play written by Jim Cartwright, and was first produced in London in 1986. The play was initially performed at the Royal Court "Upstairs" Theatre, with ex-Sex Pistol Edward Tudor-Pole as Scullery, moving "Downstairs" in 1987 with Ian Dury as the narrator. It was an enormous hit in London's West End and won the Samuel Beckett Award, Drama Magazine's Best New Play Award, and was joint winner of the Plays And Players Award, and The George Devine Award. The play was subsequently presented by Lincoln Center Theater at Off-Broadway's La Mama Annex in New York City in 1988.

Cast: 3 women, 4 men with doubling (alternate casting: 6 women, 8 men)

What people say:

"Nothing I had read about Jim Cartwright's Roadwhich actually started life at the Theatre Upstairs last March and which is now being revived again in the main house with Ian Dury – had quite prepared me for its emotional impact. John Osborne wanted a theatre that gave one 'lessons in feeling.' Cartwright's play does that, quickening our sympathy for the baffled young and old living in the blighted, scarred sections of our divided land." — The Guardian

"...sharp, funny, sad, angry ... The writing really is remarkably good – naive in the best sense, shocking, hilarious, poignant, true." — BBC Radio London

"Jim Cartwright's scorching, bang-up-to minute play is a State of the Nation piece with a vengeance. The world he shows us is a raw one and his language, coupling obscenities and street poetry gives us a passionate, unavoidable truth about a dis-United Kingdom. The openness and originality of Simon Curtis's production is a striking image for one theme in the play itself: humanity can be assertive, extraordinary and just plain lively in any sort of place." — The Times

"The climax comes when two flash lads have picked up two girls...This sequence is simply one of the most unlikely, audacious and, in the event, riveting scenes to be found currently in the theatre. ...Of the play itself enough has been said to fill a dictionary with superlatives. The writing is tough, funny, bitter, harrowing." — Financial Times

"A surreal vision of the contemporary urban landscape...uncomfortable and magical, funny and bitter. It is a northern Under Milk Wood, high on pills and booze." — The Sunday Times

"...captures with bawdy and frequently obscene precision what it is to be a living reject in a small Lancashire town in 1986." — Jewish Chronicle

"Beneath the gags, the playwright's rumbling sense of lost dignity resulting from unemployment, chauvinism or from simply getting paralytically pissed, give this stunning debut a perceptive and frightening reality." — City Limits

"The most significant and original new English play to appear in London for a long time. ...Mr. Cartwright is asking the right question and he has something to say. The question is, why is the world so hard?" — The Observer

"The debut of a writer of outstanding talent. This talent manifests itself in the skill with which Mr. Cartwright depicts the stunted, impoverished lives, full of regrets for the past and dreams of the future and in the creation of people of a poetic demotic...." — The Sunday Telegraph

About the Playwright:

Jim Cartwright is among Britain's best dramatists. His plays are consistently performed around the world, where they have won numerous awards, and been translated into 30 languages. He trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama. However, it is as a playwright that he has really made his mark. His very first play, Road, won a number of awards before being adapted for TV and broadcast by the BBC. He is probably best known for his play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

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