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A Day in the Death of Joe Egg


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AT: Funny Turns A: Peter Nichols Pf: 1967, Glasgow Pb: 1967 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Living room of Bri and Sheila's home, England, 1960s C: 2m, 3f, 1 child (f)Joe Egg is the affectionately mocking name given by her father Bri, a 33-year-old schoolteacher, to his 10-year-old daughter, who is totally paralysed from a damaged cerebral cortex. Despite obvious tensions in their marriage, Bri and his wife Sheila have learned to cope with living with a ‘human wegetable’, as Bri calls her in one of his ‘turns’ as a music-hall version of a German doctor. Indeed, despite the pain of the situation, their lives are made bearable by wit, humour, and fantasy games, and much of the dialogue is very funny. At the same time, Bri suspects Sheila of having an affair with a fellow amateur actor Freddie. Sheila is growing weary of Bri's self-pitying moods, which she believes are made worse by the indulgence of his mother Grace. Halfway through, in a dream sequence, little Joe Egg jumps up and skips, making her real-life condition all the more poignant. One evening after a rehearsal, Sheila brings home Freddie and his snobbish wife Pam, who offer well-meant but useless advice about little Joe. Bri is driven to such desperation that he pushes Joe out into the cold, hoping she will die of exposure. He relents, but goes out, while Sheila decides to put Joe into a home, so that they can build up their marriage again.

AT: Funny Turns A: Peter Nichols Pf: 1967, Glasgow Pb: 1967 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Living room of Bri and Sheila's home, England, 1960s C: 2m, 3f, 1 child (f)

Rejected by the famous agent Peggy Ramsay as being quite unsuitable for the stage, this unlikely comedy based on Peter Nichols's experience with his own daughter became a huge success. The ending remains ambiguous: Will Bri come back? Can Sheila find a home where Joe is happy, since this has never worked before? Does joking about it provide a solution?

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

Peter Nichols (b. 1927)


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