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The play’s the thing….

posted on 30 Oct 2017

The play’s the thing….

It’s been quite a long time since I last went to see a play being performed on stage. I’ve never been a big fan of the theatre and I find it very hard to sit through any performance that isn’t really top notch – I guess my threshold for the suspension of disbelief is very low. It’s also been quite a long time since I read plays on a regular basis. Generally speaking I would much prefer to read a play than risk going to see one but even drama on the printed page has become something I engage with only rarely now.

It wasn’t always so. I used to read plays avidly back in the 1970s and 1980s and I would work my way through the likes of Shakespeare, Shaw and Wilde as well as the more trendy and credible playwrights like Pinter, Stoppard, Brecht and the like. I can’t claim I was a student of drama or the ins and outs of theatre production – I read them rather like short, dialogue-based novels.

One of the pleasures of reading drama was that I really liked the play scripts produced by Methuen in the 1970s. They had a uniform presentation – card covers in blue and white with a photographic still from a production of the play at the centre and author name and title of the play in blue against white at the top. Somehow these felt like a cross between a desirable book and a working script that the actor might annotate.

We recently published a book review on this site by one of our regular contributors, Alun Severn, and in an email exchange with him about the nature of obsessive collecting he said:

There’s a chap online who collects Pan paperbacks. That’s it. Pan paperbacks — right from the very inception of the imprint. It doesn’t matter what the book is about. If it’s published by Pan, he wants it.

This made me wonder whether there were others who shared my fondness for Methuen play scripts of that period: maybe somewhere out there others were even crazier than me?

Sadly, despite trying every possible permutation I can think of, internet searches don’t uncover either a collectors corner or even a comprehensive list of the Methuen plays from that period – so perhaps there are some limitations to the collector’s mania.

In the absence of anything else, here are some of my favourites. They’re great aren’t they? You can see it can’t you? I’m not mad……..

Terry Potter

October 2017

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