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Ashes


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A: David Rudkin Pf: 1973, Hamburg; 1974, London Pb: 1978 G: Drama in 3 acts S: England (Warwickshire and Birmingham?), 1970s C: 4m, 4fColin Harding, a former writer, now a teacher in his early thirties from Northern Ireland, and his wife Anne, a former actress, now a teacher in her late twenties from Yorkshire, are trying hard to have a baby, but Colin initially has a low sperm count. Several medical tests and advice finally result in Anne becoming pregnant. At first all goes well, but she then begins to bleed and has to rest for weeks, waited on by the slightly incompetent Colin and tormented by the sympathy of a pregnant friend. Eventually, she is taken to hospital, where she miscarries and has her womb removed. They apply to adopt a child. Colin travels to Northern Ireland for the funeral of his uncle, who was blown apart by a Republican bomb, but is rejected by his relatives for living ‘across the water’. Anne and Colin are refused permission to adopt; ‘Their hopes for parenthood lie in ashes.’

A: David Rudkin Pf: 1973, Hamburg; 1974, London Pb: 1978 G: Drama in 3 acts S: England (Warwickshire and Birmingham?), 1970s C: 4m, 4f

Based on the experiences of his wife and himself, Ashes brings together the personal with the political in naturalistic scenes and elegantly lyrical monologues. Apart from the obvious irony of terrorists destroying life when others are desperate to create it, Colin allies the sterility of Northern Irish bigotry to the sterility of his marriage: ‘the clan, from whose loins I come, had turned me out; to my own loins no child of tomorrow shall come.’ Rudkin's reflections on terrorism seem particularly relevant to the suicide-bombers of the 21st century: ‘If an undertribe can commit themselves to such atrocity, there must be some terrible misery they are trying to communicate.’

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

David Rudkin (b. 1936)


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