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Christie in Love


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A: Howard Brenton Pf: 1969, London Pb: 1970 G: Drama in 1 act S: Garden of Christie's house, London, 1953 C: 3mA tape announces the facts of Christie's life. Born in 1898, he was arrested and hanged in 1953 for the murder of six women, whose bodies were found buried in his garden and concealed in the house. Digging in a pile of newspapers, a Constable is unearthing corpses while reciting obscene limericks. His Inspector helps him carry off a body, warns him not to brood on the crimes, and speaks of the public's prurient interest. Christie rises out of the pile of newspapers. He is frightened and excited by women. The Inspector questions him about the murders. Christie masturbates, taunted by women's voices on the tape. The Inspector is disappointed that Christie is not demonic but merely a pathetic asthmatic. The Constable, using a doll, approaches Christie as a prostitute. Pretending to be a policeman, Christie takes her home and strangles her: ‘I was in love with her.’ The Constable refuses to believe it was love, and the Inspector says that society has ‘got to keep love in bounds’. Together, they hang Christie.

A: Howard Brenton Pf: 1969, London Pb: 1970 G: Drama in 1 act S: Garden of Christie's house, London, 1953 C: 3m

In this provocative piece, Brenton challenges conventional notions of morality. The obscene rhymes of the Constable, the callousness of the Inspector, and the prurient interest of the public throw into question the accepted view of Christie as a monster. The danger with such moral relativism is that the brutalization of women, if not condoned, is rendered less objectionable.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Howard Brenton (b. 1942)


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