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Plenty


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A: David Hare Pf: 1978, London Pb: 1978 G: Pol. drama in 12 scenes S: London, 1947, 1950s, and 1961–2; Blackpool, 1962; St Benoît, near Poitiers, France, 1943–4; and Brussels, 1947 C: 9m, 5f1962: Susan Brock, née Traherne, is leaving her husband Raymond. 1943: Susan, working in Special Operations in occupied France encounters ‘Code Name’ Lazar, a fellow agent dropped by parachute. 1947: Susan meets Raymond, who works in the diplomatic service in Brussels. He visits her at weekends in London, where she works in a boring secretarial post and lives with artistic Alice. 1951: Susan, keen to have a child, asks Mick, a spiv, if he will oblige. 1952: Susan, now an advertising copywriter, is still not pregnant. She persuades Mick to leave by firing a revolver at him. 1956: Susan, now married to Raymond and living in luxury, entertains guests, including Raymond's former boss, who admits that Britain's Suez expedition is based on a lie. Susan, under strain, shocks the guests by incoherently talking of political sham and her mental illness. 1961: Susan and Raymond return from his posting in Iran to attend his boss's funeral. Susan gives money for drugs to an attractive teenager, confesses her attraction to Alice, and decides to stay in London. 1962: Susan is concerned that her behaviour has damaged her husband's career. Raymond leaves the diplomatic service, and Susan has a breakdown, tearing up dresses and throwing away their possessions. In a seedy hotel in Blackpool she meets up with Lazar, who is now married and living in the suburbs. He leaves her drugged on her bed, and the scene transforms to France in 1944, where Susan insists: ‘We will improve our world.’

A: David Hare Pf: 1978, London Pb: 1978 G: Pol. drama in 12 scenes S: London, 1947, 1950s, and 1961–2; Blackpool, 1962; St Benoît, near Poitiers, France, 1943–4; and Brussels, 1947 C: 9m, 5f

Plenty shows the ideals for which people fought in the Second World War betrayed by the ‘plenty’ and self-indulgence of post-war Britain. Susan is not idealized, for her behaviour is equally self-indulgent. However, as Hare says, ‘people go clinically mad if what they believe bears no relation to how they live’. The piece was made into a successful film with Meryl Streep in 1985.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

David Hare (b. 1947) English dramatist and director


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