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Maydays


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A: David Edgar Pf: 1983, London Pb: 1983; rev. 1984 G: Pol. drama in 3 acts S: England, Hungary, USA, and USSR, 1945–early 1980s C: 24m, 8f, extrasOn May Day 1945, as Nazi Germany faces defeat, Jeremy Crowther speaks to the crowds of the triumph of international socialism. Budapest, 1956: a Soviet lieutenant Pavel Lermontov, sent to repress the Hungarian uprising, lets a dissident Hungarian student go free. 1962: Jeremy now teaching at a public school, recognizes that ‘there's all the difference in the world, between liberty and liberation’. 1967: one of Jeremy's pupils Martin Glass takes part in an anti-Vietnam demonstration in the USA. In the student revolts of 1968, Martin finds himself unable to commit to any of the warring socialist splinter groups, and Jeremy finds that his university office is occupied by a sit-in. Lermontov, working as a translator, is arrested as a Soviet dissident. May Day 1970: Nixon announces the US invasion of Cambodia. 1972: Jeremy is alarmed at Martin's new-found dogmatism and ruthless revolutionary stance. Two years later, Martin is sacked from his party. May Day 1975: Communists celebrate victory in Saigon. 1978: Lermontov defects to the West and, when he finds himself being exploited to support right-wing views in England, rejects the award offered by the Committee in Defence of Liberty. Early 1980s: while Martin helps to invade a US airforce base, Soviet dissidents meet in secret.

A: David Edgar Pf: 1983, London Pb: 1983; rev. 1984 G: Pol. drama in 3 acts S: England, Hungary, USA, and USSR, 1945–early 1980s C: 24m, 8f, extras

Premiered shortly after Margaret Thatcher was returned for a second term in office, Maydays is an epic elegy for socialism, cleverly combining ‘May Days’, the workers' celebration, with ‘mayday’, the international distress call. Edgar contrasts the seriousness of political struggle in Eastern Europe with the pathetic infighting of socialist groups in the West, both of which, as Edgar feared, contributed to the eventual triumph of capitalism.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

David Edgar (b. 1948)


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