A: David Storey Pf: 1970, London Pb: 1970 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Terrace of a residential home, England, 1960s C: 3m, 2fTwo elegantly dressed middle-aged gentlemen, Harry and Jack, meet on a terrace and talk in desultory fashion. They discuss Jack's recent illness, their schooldays, the weather, the sea, the Vale of Evesham, moustaches, the army, families, arthritis, etc., and Jack performs some card tricks. They leave for a walk before lunch. The atmosphere changes when two middle-aged women, Kathleen and Marjorie, enter. They swear, exchange rude jokes, and are unembarrassedly of a lower class than the two gentlemen. The men return and converse in a slightly odd manner with the women, then accompany them to the dining hall. After lunch, Alfred, who is a simple younger man, tests his strength by lifting the metal table and chairs on the terrace. As Kathleen and Harry now converse, it becomes apparent that they are confined to a mental institution. The women penetrate the evasive clichés of the men: Kathleen admits she attacked the milkman, and reminds Alfred that he painted obscenities in the town centre; Jack imagines he will soon be out, but Marjorie knows better. The men end the play gently weeping.
A: David Storey Pf: 1970, London Pb: 1970 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Terrace of a residential home, England, 1960s C: 3m, 2f
There is virtually no plot in the conventional sense, and the piece depends for its effect on the skill and precise observation of its dialogue. With its elliptical utterances and evasions, it is reminiscent of Pinter, but more naturalistic. Its premiere, directed by Lindsay Anderson, with John Gielgud as Harry and Ralph Richardson as Jack, was a success both in London and New York.