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Goodnight Children Everywhere


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A: Richard Nelson Pf: 1997, Stratford-upon-Avon Pb: 1997 G: Drama in 8 scenes S: Large flat, Clapham, south London, spring 1945 C: 3m, 4fIn the last months of the Second World War, Peter, now 17, who had been sent away five years previously to Canada, returns to his sisters in London: Vi (19), a would-be actress; Ann (20), pregnant and married to Mike (fifties), a doctor; and Betty (21), a nurse who works for Mike. Their parents are dead, and they all mother Peter, wondering at how he has grown. Vi and Ann had been evacuated to Wales. A song played on the radio, ‘Goodnight Children Everywhere’, makes Peter and Ann sad, as they think of their mother killed by a bomb and their father killed in action in France. When Peter has a bath, Ann masturbates him and makes him come. That evening, another doctor, Hugh, comes to see if Peter would like to work for him. He brings with him his daughter Rose, who is studying to be a teacher. Mike tells Peter that Ann confessed her odd behaviour to him, and he says he understands. Hugh invites Betty out for a meal. Ann suggests sex with Peter, and they make love the following day. Vi gets a part she has auditioned for by sleeping with the director. Betty goes off with Hugh but soon returns, having decided that he repelled her. Some months later, Mike and Ann call with their new baby to show it off, and Ann discovers Rose emerging from Peter's bedroom.

A: Richard Nelson Pf: 1997, Stratford-upon-Avon Pb: 1997 G: Drama in 8 scenes S: Large flat, Clapham, south London, spring 1945 C: 3m, 4f

Peter's return to his family is warm, shocking, and unpredictable. It is as though he has found himself in Chekhov's Three Sisters after they have abandoned conventional morality and now pursue without inhibition their desires and aspirations, limited by the war and by their emotional and economic vulnerability.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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