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After Haggerty


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A: David Mercer Pf: 1970, London Pb: 1970 G: Pol. com. in 2 acts S: London, Budapest, Moscow, Havana, Prague, Chicago, New York, Long Island, and Yorkshire, 1956–70 C: 9m, 5fBernard Link, an overweight theatre critic of 45 with two failed marriages behind him, has leased a London flat belonging to Haggerty. Haggerty's aggressive separated wife Claire flies from New York to present Haggerty with his baby son Raskolnikov, only to find the alarmed Bernard in residence. She moves in with him. In flashback, we see Bernard the Marxist apologist in Budapest during the 1956 uprising, in Moscow, in Havana, and in Prague during the 1968 revolt. After each foreign visit, Bernard talks to his working-class father, a Yorkshire widower, whom we never see until he arrives one day at Bernard's flat because his own home is flooded. Haggerty, who moved to Paris, has mysteriously disappeared. Flashbacks show Claire talking to the unseen Haggerty in Chicago, during student riots in New York, and on Long Island. Bernard has a row with his father, and ends up putting a wreath round his neck. Two undertakers bring an empty coffin with a message that Haggerty was killed fighting as a guerrilla.

A: David Mercer Pf: 1970, London Pb: 1970 G: Pol. com. in 2 acts S: London, Budapest, Moscow, Havana, Prague, Chicago, New York, Long Island, and Yorkshire, 1956–70 C: 9m, 5f

Mercer's clever play sets various political viewpoints against one another, while allowing the characters to operate as real people within a dysfunctionally constructed ‘family’. Bernard is a nominal Marxist, but as a cynical theatre critic, is totally unproductive; Claire is a rich heiress who joins student protest as a fashion statement; Bernard's father is a genuine member of the proletariat, but his reactionary attitudes are deservedly commemorated with a wreath; only the unseen Haggerty commits himself fully to his revolutionary beliefs. What comes ‘after Haggerty’ is left to the audience to decide.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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David Mercer (1928—1980) playwright and scriptwriter


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