Pity in History was commissioned by BBC Television, Birmingham, 1982. It was transmitted on 4 July 1985.




BOYS    A  Sergeant………………….Paul Jesson




SPONGE……………………………...Roger Frost

SPILLMAN …………………………..Paul Dalton

SKINNER…………………………….Ian Mercer


APPS…………………………………Patrick Field


CROOP Chaplain ……………………Alan Rickman


FACTOR Officer…………………….Patrick Malahide


MURGATROYD A Cook…………...Ian McDiarmid


GAUKROGER A Mason ……………Norman Rodway


POOL An Apprentice ……………….Steven Rimkus


VENABLES A Widow………………Anna Massey




Directed by………………………….Sarah Pia Anderson








Scene One



The nave of a cathedral. The slamming of massive doors and a cacophony of voices. MURGATROYD, a dying man, is singing from his stretcher at full pitch. A squad of SOLDIERS, crazed by battle, shout a catechism initiated by a SERGEANT to restore discipline.

MURGATROYD (to the tune of 'A-roving'). I'm dy-ing, I'm dying, who shot me, was it Private Apps, I'm dy-ing, I'm dy­ing bas-tard mates!


BOYS: Why are we fighting?


SOLDIERS: Because we are right!


BOYS: Why will we win?


SOLDIERS: Because we are stronger!


BOYS: Why are we stronger?


SOLDIERS: Because God's on our side!


MURGATROYD: I can see you, Apps, I watch you. Apps,

eyes right to the stretcher, look, the dead man's eye!


BOYS: Are we right to be ruthless?


SOLDIERS: It shortens the pain!


MURGATROYD: Whose pain? What do you know about

pain, you know nothing about pain, I got the pain, not you!


BOYS: When shall we show mercy?


SOLDIERS: The day we have won!


MURGATROYD: You ain't  gonna win, you don't deserve to win, you're all dead men, I cooked yer breakfast you ungrateful parasites!


BOYS: And when will it be?


SOLDIERS: As soon as God wills it!


MURGATROYD: I tell you a funny thing about dying-a funny thing about dying-listen, will yer, it's a dead man talking! When I die you all die too-it's a fact you disappear the moment I do and serves you right I never liked you, least of all you, Apps, I been trying to poison you for six weeks, never trust a cook­-----


BOYS: Don't look at 'im, Skinner­----


MURGATROYD: Don't look at me, Skinner, oh, Skinner, it 'urts, Christ, Skinner. . .!


BOYS: Why do we say that God's on our side? Spillman!


SPILLMAN: Because­-----


BOYS: Spillman!


SPILLMAN: Because the enemy-is degenerate-and worships false idols----­


BOYS: Sponge! Why do we say that God's on our side?


 SPONGE: Because it says so in Mark 17----­


MURGATROYD: Oh, very good, Sponge, you creep, Sponge,

you murderer, Sponge, call Apps!


BOYS: Who started this war, was it us?


SOLDIERS: It was not!


BOYS: Who did, then?


SOLDIERS: It was them!


MURGATROYD: Who murdered the cook!


BOYS: Why did they?


SKINNER: Because of­---


BOYS: Not you, Skinner, Apps!


MURGATROYD: Yes, Apps, why did you, you were messing about with your rifle. Apps, and off it went, Apps, that's what the trigger's for, Apps, you daft bugger-----­


BOYS: What do we fight for?


SOLDIERS: Our honour! Our rights!


MURGATROYD: I want to protest! Is anyone in touch with God? That man! (He points to the CHAPLAIN, as the SOLDIERS lower the stretcher to the floor.) Yes, you! I was standing with the ladle making soup; the salt-box in the left hand and the ladle in the right, and this bullet comes through the canvas, through the tent, no warning, what's the explanation you know God, it stands to reason bullets should be deflected from the cooks! Is the sun going down or is it me?


The SOLDIERS drift away.


CROOP: Rest now, you have your pain in a perfect cause-for

   Christ and justice­---


MURGATROYD (grabbing his arm tightly). Where's the justice

   in this mush?


CROOP: We have, each one of us, our time of coming and our

   time of going.­


MURGATROYD: Not good enough!


CROOP: His will is unknowable----­


MURGATROYD: Not good enough, mush! Where are they going I saw enough of yer when I was king of the bacon! I'll tell yer a story, there was a cook and he 'ad seven children---correction! Seven orphans!


CROOP (standing up). You make it hard for yourself.


MURGATROYD: 'Ard for you, you mean! And he joined the army to cook the soldiers' breakfasts and to steal a little of their rations that is accepted practice-(CROOP turns away.) Don't go, ain't I dying quick enough, my most sincere apologies, Murgatroyd, snuff in silence you will depress the spirits of the troops. Look you are goin' 'orne and I am not, ain't that a bleedin' scandal? (He falls back on the stretcher.)



Scene Two


An apprentice brings a sandwich to a mason.

POOL: A soldier is dying!


GAUKROGER: Rain falls. Dogs bite. Nurses steal. Shall I go on? Where's the pickle?


POOL: There ain't no pickle. The grocer's boarded up and the baker's been arrested.


GAUKROGER: Pity. I fancied some pickle.


POOL: They've piled their rifles on the altar----


­GAUKROGER: You call this a sandwich? It's a floorcloth.


POOL: I'm sorry, guvnor, there's a war on----


­GAUKROGER (intimidating). I'm sorry there's a war on? You come on like that and I'm sorry I will smack your arse-----­


POOL: I was only----­


GAUKROGER: You come on like greengrocers and whores and I'm sorry I will turn you out, I'm sorry you are an apprentice and you'll find pickle when I want it!


POOL: There ain't no pickle. There ain't no shops, only soldiers.


GAUKROGER: Well, I don't make monuments for shop­keepers after this. Let 'em do their own scrolls and epitaphs for running off with the mustard. I hate grocers and I hate their daughters.


POOL: Everybody's run, except 'er at the big 'ouse. She won't move for nobody. 'Let them crucify me on the door' she says. Will they?


GAUKROGER: She is a passionate woman. More than that I won't say.


POOL: She says Cromwell's men tear pictures with their teeth.  Do they?


GAUKROGER: They keep telling us the rebels never get enough to eat. I believe anything, lies especially. Here­--- (He shoves the remnants of the sandwich at POOL, gets up to work.) And if the soldiers trip you, laugh, and if they cuff you, thank 'em. See, I teach you everything... (POOL carries the toolbag. Sounds of  MURGATROYD singing deliriously. )



Scene Three



MURGATROYD: I'm not dead, I'm only pre-tendin', I ain't in pain, it's a joke, God never borrows, 'e's only lend-in', 'e's a bugger to blokes who've gone broke!


CROOP: Because he blasphemes, Christ scourges him. And the more he is scourged, the worse he blasphemes. I never knew a man die so badly, it dishonours the regiment.


FACTOR: You could barely get good morning out of him once...


MURGATROYD: Christ was on the cross, yer see, Christ was on the cross, says Christ, I can't stick much more of this, I been dyin' for eight hours, I should be very grateful if one of you lot would stick a spear in me---it was a terrible pain, yer see, it was making him turn against God, so along came this soldier named Apps, yes Apps was 'is name, Appsius Appsius, it's a fact.


CROOP (walking). This is a place full of sin. Do you feel it?


FACTOR: Which sin?


CROOP: The worship of idols. The mocking of the Lord. Look around you, it is not a place of worship it's a wedding cake.  Dead men's tombs higher than the altar. Vanity offends Him, pomp makes His wounds bleed. What do you say?


FACTOR: Christ went into the temple, and threw down the tables of the money-changers. Coins tinkling down the steps...


CROOP: Smash it then. Call the soldiers


FACTOR: They went barmy today, killing the killed several times over. . .


CROOP: They were filled with the fury of God.


FACTOR: At lunchtime the only cadaver they'd seen was their grandad, by tea-time they'd walked through an acre of brains. . .


CROOP: What are you saying?


FACTOR: The sergeants could hardly restrain them. Had  them drilling and shouting their names. . .


CROOP: Was not Samson furious, and in his fury pure?


FACTOR: Yes, but give them their dinner.


CROOP: Dinner?


FACTOR: And after dinner, discussion. (CROOP looks disappointed.) Don't fret, Mr Croop, we'll take hammers to the screens, and send the noses of the angels flying through the glass. . .


GAUKROGER (with exaggerated unction). Good battle, gentlemen? I understand the casualties were suitably high? The effect of cannon fire, I gather, is even more devastating than the manufacturers suggest?


CROOP: Who's this?


GAUKROGER: We listened from the tower, I said to Pool, I hope this will not be another skirmish, just cuts and grazes, then we heard the cannonade and I knew,  this was History coming over the hill. Gaukroger's the name, I can produce any pattern of memorial, in greensand or granite, granite's dearer because it has to travel.


FACTOR: What are you?


GAUKROGER: There's a war on and everybody's barmy, so I'll make you an offer, name and number, thirty bob, choice of biblical verses, half a dollar, crossed swords a tanner----­crossed swords are cheap because I have at last drummed crossed swords into my apprentice----his lettering leaves everything to be desired, and his Latin!


FACTOR: We bury the dead on the field.


GAUKROGER: What about an obelisk?


CROOP: God knows their sacrifice.


GAUKROGER: Yes, but man might easily forget. What do you say to a twenty-foot pillar with Corinthian caps, or reclining warrior with toga and shield askant, with swags in the entablatures--Pool, work this out--or simple urn and bas relief of spoils?

POOL: Fifty bob­-----


GAUKROGER: Fifty bob, plus cheese and pickle.... (They stare at him coldly.)   Cheese and pickle I can't quote for, under the circumstances of war.


FACTOR: What are you, a craftsman, or a profiteer?


GAUKROGER: How about angels over a sacophagus? No one catches angels' wings like me. I might have groomed the real thing I am so perfect. Ask Pool who is the best angel carver south of Lincoln.


POOL: You are.


GAUKROGER: I am, he says so. There's Bert Catheter of Bristol, but he's arthritic.


CROOP: There will be no monuments. Monuments are finished.


GAUKROGER: Christ, what's in, then? I've trained Pool for redundancy! Quick, boy, go and sign up with a printer. What's in, gents? Bibles?  Or a gunsmith, would you recommend? I promised him a trade, I swore it to his mother. Go and carve rifle stocks for left-handed blind men.


CROOP: Do you find something to mock in the army?


GAUKROGER: No, killing must be done or I lose half of my commissions. (He turns to a nearby tomb.) Here's a captain of marines got murdered on an island. I did that twenty years back----I was never very good at skulls, not that there's a call for skulls now. Necrophilia's got unfashionable, they all want swag and trophies.


CROOP: This is God's army, and we rinse out all sin. . .




CROOP: We demolish all pagan ornament----­


GAUKROGER: Well, it's only mass production, half of it----


CROOP: You pander to the ostentation of the vulgar. Pack up your hammers and grow potatoes. (He goes off.  Pause.)


FACTOR: Sometimes History comes into the quiet man's drawing room, and goes barmy in his china.... were you never a soldier?


 GAUKROGER: I was spared the indignity of murdering mothers' sons I'd never met. Nor did I make my trousers dirty. Nor run at other men's commands, nor wanted to scream at pimply boys. I admit in this I am obviously abnormal.


FACTOR: You are a contemptuous old man...


GAUKROGER: Don't flatter me, I can't lend you a penny.


FACTOR: Things have to be broken. He says for God. I say for man. You think you carve, but you carve out slavery when you lend dignity to greedy squires.


GAUKROGER: Tell him when he wants to bust my work, I have a heavy mallet...


(Pause.  FACTOR looks at him curiously.)




GAUKROGER: I bear no grudges and I like to sleep at night.  When I die my coffin will be kicked about. Nothing rests, in peace or otherwise, does it? You spend three years on a chancel-screen and twenty yobbos break it. Across the floor the bits go, and end up in a garden. Come another century, some antiquary restores it, lovingly, with brush and ruler, then a cannon brings it down again. Well, only a fool cries at chaos, it's the condition. I foresee nothing, I expect nothing, and because I do an angel's wing near perfect gives it no rights, no more than a lovely woman expects to win forever, down she goes to dust and wrinkle, do I depress you?


FACTOR: Yes. To hear human endeavour so casually dismissed. Yes, that depresses me.


GAUKROGER: Rejoice in a sandwich, I do.


FACTOR (seeing POOL): All that's to spare himself.   An excuse for spilling skill in trivia.


POOL: Don't listen to what he says.  See what he does. Mind     you, it's out of date. (Pause)  So what, it's out of date.






Scene Four



MURGATROYD against a pillar.


MURGA TROYD: La, la, la, la-la, la! It's all right, leave a dead man alone, that's decent of yer, I appreciate that, yer doin' it for me, of course you are, yer think the sight of all that 'ealth and vigour's only goin' to depress me. I do think that's bleedin' considerate----- (He catches sight of someone.) What's that! I saw death creepin' round the pillar! Back you bastard----la, la, la, la-la la! Oh, it's Apps, it's Apps, hopin' for forgiveness! Forgive you? I will spit my last bit of froth at you and it will poison your life!


APPS: Shuddup, will yer!


MURGATROYD: I accuse the army of failing to instruct its soldiers 'ow to die! They teach you 'ow to kill, what about dying, I will raise this with my MP! Regulations on dying gracefully!


APPS: Look, I never did it, yer know I never----


­MURGATROYD: You shot me, you hungry liar, wasn't the bacon salt enough?


APPS (to BOYS who enters). Why does 'e keep sayin' it was me?


BOYS: He's delirious. . .


MURGATROYD (mocking). He's delirious... He's delirious. .. say something sensible and they call you delirious, proper sergeant's talk that is, mother, will you light a candle, there's a scratching in the room. . .


BOYS: See what I mean­


MURGATROYD: I'm teasin' yer!


BOYS: Look, John­----


MURGATROYD: Don't John me, I'm not John, call me



BOYS: John----­


MURGATROYD: Corpse is the name! (BOYS turns to go, bitterly.) You want me to forgive you, 'ow nice if corpse forgives you, everything's smooth, everything's symmetrical, lie down in yer 'ole and let us get on with it, I don't forgive you, not this corpse, not Cromwell nor the 'ouse of  Commons neither? You got my blood on yer!


FACTOR: Be quiet, and find a little dignity.


MURGATROYD: A little dignity? A little dignity! Have you seen a little dignity? I saw one a minute ago but it disappeared down a crack. Find a little dignity, you outlandish rascal you!


FACTOR: Then just be quiet.


MURGATROYD: Is that an order? Come again? Look, you can't control me 'cos you 'can't punish me! What are you going to do? Take my leave away! I've lost my leave forever you! Really, the impertinence of officers, giving dead men orders, it's a frightful habit, I hear they dip their wives by numbers, take yer armour off, you look ridiculous. There was a captain once, who when they took his pips off, his jacket fell to the ground----there was nothing inside, just a shouting jacket, get yer own breakfast, I'm cooking for Christ now.


FACTOR: This is a regiment of honest and God-fearing men­-----


   MURGATROYD: Oh, you don't want to be afraid of God, I know, I'm 'alfway to His bosom, I would rather be with my wife's old tits any day, I shall never see 'em again, oh.... I'm so lonely 'ere....


FACTOR (at his side). Have I been a good officer to you?


MURGATROYD: You 'ave and you 'aven't.....


FACTOR: When have I not been?


MURGATROYD: When you were an officer. When you were a man you were all right, for a few seconds before bed. At cocoa time I saw something human, fluttering on the edges of your eyelids.… what is this place? Is it Heaven? Spare us an afterlife if you lot turn up. . .


FACTOR: We build a new country here, a new freedom, very sweet, out of our labour and your pain. . .


MURGATROYD: Don't tell a dead man about the future. 'ave you got no tact?


(FACTOR rises slowly to his feet.  MURGATROYD's eyes close, he breathes hard.)


FACTOR: Remove him to the crypt. We can't have him here,    upsetting the soldiers.


(BOYS and APPS bend to lift the stretcher. )


APPS: What is it---what is it like to die?


BOYS: Marvellous in a good cause, rotten in a bad one. Pick up!


APPS: But why, though...


BOYS: The question has no answer, and because it has no answer, it is not a question.


APPS: It is a question!


BOYS: No, it is not a question, it's a mood. Real questions have real answers. How do you govern? Who needs a king? Who owns the land? Who owns the river? All you can do is ask real questions, and the moods will sink to the bottom.





Scene Five



Part of the cathedral. CROOP in a colloquy.



CROOP:  When you look around you, what is it you see?

(Pause. They look at one another.) You see what?






CROOP: Good. And how expressed?


SPILLMAN: In idols.


CROOP: Yes. And would Christ like it?


SPILLMAN: No. 'e would be furious.


SKINNER: 'e would go barmy. 'e would go on the rampage



CROOP: He would say, in pretending to honour me, you

   honour yourselves, you hypocrites.


SPILLMAN: So 'e would fill our 'earts with anger, an' we

   could bash away, an' God would say, look, my soldiers bash

the temple down, good lads.


CROOP: Honour my troopers who deliver me from sin----


­SPILLMAN: Down with vanity an' greed.


CROOP: Good, for we fight Christ's war and carry out His gospels!


   SPONGE: 'old on. (They look at him.) Sorry. 'old on. (Pause.) 'Cos 'e says, chuck the money changers out the temple. 'e tips the tables over, right? (CROOP looks at him.) I mean... what's 'e mean, I mean?


CROOP: Christ comes into----


SPONGE: 'old it-----sorry------'old it-----


SKINNER: Get it out, Mick­-----


SPONGE: I mean, I feel I wanna bash the 'ouses....


CROOP: It's God who is offended in his house­------


SPONGE: No. It's me. (Pause.)



SPONGE: It's me 'o's offended. . .


CROOP: We are not at war with property. Only idolatory...


SPONGE: That is idolatory. Ain't it? When we got in the big 'ouse at Harborough, we was 'ot with fighting, an' we broke the winders, an' we got into the rooms, an' I went up these stairs, the stairs that was wider than my mother's 'ouse, an' at the top of the stairs was this room, an' the room looked bigger than a field, an' it was full of bits, like pictures, an' this furniture, an' it was all there, like it was a church, an' I wanted to smash it, an' I smashed it 'cos it was idolatory. Inlaid whatnots, splinterin', an' vain pictures of geezers fifteen foot 'igh, rip under my boot. .. an' I loved it... I was full of the Lord... I fuckin' was... (Pause. CROOP looks at him intently.)


CROOP: Vandal. Not Christ's trooper.


SPONGE: Somethin' was in it... in all that stuff...


CROOP: Property is the basis of all order.


SPONGE: There was somethin' in that stuff----


CROOP: God's soldiers do not spoil----­


SPONGE: Worshipped an' precious an' gorgeous stuff----


­CROOP: We fight for the rights of property against injudicial



SPONGE: Shuddup, will yer! (Pause, shock. A WOMAN is

   staring at them.)


VENABLES: They will cut your hands off, and nail them to a

   tree. Every hand lifted against the King and God. Hand tree.

   (She goes off, watched by them.)



Scene Six


Part of the cathedral. GAUKROGER is working on a monument of a reclining figure.


GAUKROGER (at last). You're not watching me.


POOL: I was.


GAUKROGER: No, you were looking at me, but not



POOL (turning away). What's it matter, anyway?


GAUKROGER (stopping). What's it matter? I turned down

    twenty boys who would have stuck their eyeballs to the chisel

    blade to learn things you're so casual of.


POOL: They're gonna smash it anyway. Boot it, crack and

    split and scatter it.


GAUKROGER: You have all the sculpture in the world stored in your fingertips if     you watch. And if they do not crush your fingers you can make it all again, like the books can be re-written and all the pictures painted over again, unless they murder all the painters, which can't be done because painters are born every minute, unfortunately. I say unfortunately because there's too much talent and it's got cheap.


POOL: Pack up and run, I say.


GAUKROGER: Where to?


POOL: There's other cathedrals.


GAUKROGER: And when they fall, run to another? All the masons will be herded in one place like mad sheep, offering their services to the bishop. Down will come the wages and you will have fifty starving masons instead of one fed. Stick to where you are. This will pass and you'll get an income if you're patient.


POOL: It's a dead trade, Michael.


GAUKROGER: Pass the chisel.


POOL: You 'eard the preacher. There's gonna be a new God

now, official. An' dead quacks an' colonels will go straight

under the floor. No purbeck. No alabaster. An' your letterin'

ain't so blood marvellous, neither.


GAUKROGER: Oh, listen to him! Before the troops got here

you were all compliments about my genius.

POOL: Yeah, well...


GAUKROGER: If the cavaliers had done a bit better on the

  hill, you would have kept your little rosebud shut.


POOL: Everythin's fallin' apart! No one told me this when I

     signed my papers. I'm eighteen, and everything's slidin'!


GAUKROGER: Because we work in stone we think all things

     last like granite, like monarchy, like peace, like marriages.

     But no. One clean blow of the mallet and the air is full of

    fragments. Look at my old skull, I could step under a falling

       tile and when I got home find my old wife in bed with a corporal.


POOL: Unlikely, that...


GAUKROGER: Unlikely, he says. You know nothing. Now

watch, I turn the chisel on its back to rub the edge off the

angle.. (They work with concentration, seeing VENABLES



VENABLES: This is hell. This is rubbish. And God is on our

side, the priest said so on Sunday. What's He playing at? I

refuse to run away. I will not squat on a cartful of carpets and

pee in the bushes. I look their cockney soldiers in the face

and they know me as a mistress. My eyes say dislodge me if you dare I have ruled this place for five centuries. How is my husband's tomb?


GAUKROGER: The short rations don't help. And I'm never

   happy on a ladder. . .


VENABLES: I'm worried this is not the latest look. What are

they doing in Rome?


GAUKROGER: I haven't managed to get to Rome lately...


VENABLES: Don't be sarcastic, you've seen the pattern

books, surely?


GAUKROGER: The war's jacked everything.



VENABLES (touching the finished portions). My husband had

      meticulous taste. . .



GAUKROGER: So I gather. I thought the drapery falling over the tabulua rasa was       something he's appreciate, and the tassels are the latest in what I understand is known as naturalism. . .


VENABLES: You aren't Bernini, are you...? (She fingers a

sculptured hand.)


GAUKROGER: No, I'm not Bernini.


VENABLES: You're Gaukroger...


GAUKROGER: I'm Gaukroger, I can't pretend otherwise...


VENABLES: He loved the marbles, cold as death...


GAUKROGER: You can't get marbles now­-----


VENABLES: It's so infuriating not to get what you want!


GAUKROGER: Yes, it must be, but purbeck's a very nice

stone, warm unfortunately. . . warm as life. . .


VENABLES: Nice for who?


GAUKROGER: For me, of course, it cuts nicely. . .


VENABLES: There was an Italian here six months ago, but he fled. You can't blame him, the puritans think all Italians are       popes. . . the war has ruined English art. Look at Van Dyke.




VENABLES: Are you being clever?


GAUKROGER: I am very sorry that your husband should have been obliged, for                shortage of Italians, to have his monument hacked together by me-----


VENABLES: Now you're being silly-----­

GAUKROGER: An English mason without orginality or-----


­VENABLES: I said you're being silly.


GAUKROGER: Your ladyship mistakes my wit for pride. I

have no pride. If you can't eat it, chuck it, that's my motto. All the same, I'm sorry   the Flemish went out, I was getting the hang of the symbols.


VENABLES: This will be the biggest monument in Holchester.


GAUKROGER: Sir Henry was the biggest merchant, so that's only logical.


VENABLES: Eighteen feet from the floor to mantel, and forty lines of tribute.     Imagine the unveiling! But that's off now. Everything's off for the duration. Fun's off, dignity's off, but at least they cannot maul the silver. The silver's packed and          gone to Antwerp.


GAUKROGER: Antwerp's safe this week.


VENABLES: Lady Digby's china was lost in a wreck.


GAUKROGER: The weather's a rebel----still, it pleases the fish...78


VENABLES: I think it amuses you.




VENABLES: To see order upset. God's mansion a dung heap. Estates full of weeds. Ungathered crops. Etcetera. I think it does.


GAUKROGER: It rains as much as it shines. I meet plenty who curse the rain, but really, it's wasted breath. (Pause. She         examines a carved hand.)


VENABLES: That is exquisite. . . how many hours did it take?


GAUKROGER: How many hours?


VENABLES: Yes. Someone will ask me and I want to say he

spent-----that many hours­-----


GAUKROGER: A dozen. . .


VENABLES (pausing). Good... (She turns to go.)


GAUKROGER: Mrs----(She stops.) I have to be paid yet. (She remains with her back to him.) The boy has a mother crippled in bed, and if I get nothing, he gets less. I employ the sentimental argument. . . to begin with. . .


VENABLES: There's a war on.


GAUKROGER: Everyone says that.


VENABLES: Well, isn't there? My cashbox went to Calais.


GAUKROGER: Ah, it's the way with cashboxes, they do slip away. Cash is a very sensitive thing. I must have an advance,  though. We talked about that.


VENABLES: Oh, did we?


GAUKROGER: Yes. (Pause. She turns at last.)


VENABLES: I thought you were an artist.




VENABLES: Superior in sensibility. Above all mercenary

consideration. Lofty-----




VENABLES: It bewilders me that the mind or eye that can make that----- (She indicates the sculpted hand.) should make room for the dirty little clockwork of financial gain... sordid calculations, the rattling of grasp and profit. Really, I am disappointed, but you learn something of human nature every day, don't you? The little shocks, the tiny horrors. It's still good, but you have spoiled it for me, what do you want?


GAUKROGER: Five dishonourable shillings. (Pause. She looks at him, then dips into. her pocket, removes some coins, holds them out.) Forgive my taint, but could you make it silver? The pre-war copper's gone quite dead.


VENABLES: Five shillings, you said.


GAUKROGER: I did, but­-----

VENABLES: That's five shillings, rebels or not.


GAUKROGER: No grocer will take it.


VENABLES: Tell them they must. It is treason to refuse the coin of the realm, report them to a magistrate (She writes in a notebook.) Five shillings to the mason, paid with thanks. (She goes out, watched cruelly by POOL.)


POOL: That's it. (He chucks down his chisel, leaps off the





POOL: Sod this. Stuff this.




POOL (untying his apron). Take yer tools back. Make yer own

sandwich. Sorry but stuff this.


GAUKROGER (working on). Where are you going?


POOL: Guess.




POOL: If they'll have me.


GAUKROGER: Oh, they will.


POOL: Do you blame me?


GAUKROGER: What's blame? The word is not my dictionary.


POOL: Yer think I'm a fool? The war's as good as over.


GAUKROGER: Cocks fight in pits. Dogs bite bears. Boys scream on windy hills and cooks die in basements.


POOL: Look, cut the wisdom, will yer? All this stuff, this life

      stuff. Tell us, do this, or this, will yer? (Pause. GAUKROGER

    stops. )




POOL: Why not? (He looks angrily at GAUKROGER) Why

    not? (GAUKROGER is silent. POOL flings down his apron

    and stalks out)





Scene Seven


The crypt, silent and dark. MURGA TROYD is lying on the stretcher. His eyes open. Pause.

MURGATROYD: I'm dead. (Pause.) Put the light on some­body. (He sits bolt upright, stricken with horror.) Wait a minute. Use yer 'ead. (He lies down again.) I am not dead because I 'ave a body. 'ow do I know I 'ave a body? Because it 'urts. Right! (Pause.) I've been buried alive. Keep calm, keep calm, you've been buried alive----keep calm you stupid bugger! (He sits up again, takes deep breaths.) I can't be buried alive because there would be no air, and there is air. I know there's air because I'm breathin'----where in Christ's name am I, then? (He lies back again.) Calm down, calm down, if I'm alive----why can't I see nothing? I can't see nothing. (He puts his fingers up before his eyes.) I'm blind! (He sits bolt upright again.) I'm blind! (He shuts his eyes.) I'm alive and I'm blind or I'm dead and its 'ell, or it's night and it's cloudy, or maybe I'm dreamin', will somebody 'elp? (Pause. He opens his eyes. There is a creak of a massive door, and a sound of something dragging over the floor.) Oh bloody 'ell. . . it's 'im. . . it's Death. . .


Stiff with horror, MURGATROYD cranes his head to the source of the sound. A figure in a hooded garment is dragging a cumbersome object into the crypt. By the thin light, it is seen to be VENABLES with a massive framed painting which she is concealing. MURGATROYD lets out a groan. She sees him. Pause.


VENABLES: Who the bloody hell are you?



MURGA TROYD: War dead.


VENABLES: Well, you can't lie around here.


MURGA TROYD: Where am I?


VENABLES: None of your business.


MURGA TROYD: Come again?


VENABLES: I am not obliged to explain myself to you. You explain yourself to me.


MURGATROYD: I was born in 1620, my mother was a kitchen maid, I never knew my dad, I 'ad three children by two women, one in Christ's eyes, two without, the two without are 'ealthy, the one who 'ad God's blessing died at birth-----where did yer say this was? (He sees the room is stacked with paintings.)



Scene Eight


GAUKROGER is visited at work by FACTOR. He watches him for a while.

   FACTOR: A boy comes to me. A boy says in his wisdom, everything is upside down now and the only skill worth having is skill with a rifle. I said that makes you a mercenary. Our soldiers fight for a cause. One soldier with a reason is worth three without. The boy says he will study. So we took him. Do you know the boy?


GAUKROGER (working). He got under my feet.


FACTOR: You take things well. No protest. No squeak.


 GAUKROGER: Why shouldn't I? His dying wound won't

make me wince.


FACTOR: You're angry and you hide it with your chip, chip,



GAUKROGER: If you insist.


FACTOR: You are, though.


GAUKROGER: Well, he could sniff out a dinner. You are

    taking my light.. (FACTOR moves considerately. Pause.)


FACTOR: This is a moral war we fight. We call it God's war

    on our side.


GAUKROGER: So I gather. They quote Him on the other,


FACTOR: And who is He with, in your judgement?


GAUKROGER: Well, idiot, the side that will win, of course.


(FACTOR walks round him and the monument.) Don't let me keep you. Or are you being shy, and want to take on as my apprentice? It's seven years and ten for ex-soldiers.


FACTOR: Why the penalty?


GAUKROGER: They take three years to forget. Pass the soft­headed hammer. (FACTOR hands up a tool.) There, you've done something useful. (Pause.)


FACTOR: Why do you do this? Carve honour for courtiers?

    Run up splendour for dishonest men?


GAUKROGER: The honest men have nothing to pay me



FACTOR: It's a lie, this. Bigger than the altar for a lout who

    spent his life sipping in clubs and tampering with prostitutes.


GAUKROGER: His blood went bad and blew his heart up

    three times big, and his foot came of with his boot. . .


FACTOR: Show that, then.­


GAUKROGER: It wasn't part of my commission.


FACTOR: His expression is charitable, though he was mean. . . his hand is graceful, though it was tight. . . his wig is lovely, though his hair was full of lice...


GAUKROGER: It doesn't look a bit like him, but it has got



FACTOR: A bad art, this...


GAUKROGER: Why? It tells the truth.


FACTOR: What truth?



GAUKROGER: That he was rich enough to buy my skill, and vain enough to believe his epitaph. He could have bought Bernini, but Bernini wasn't passing, so he bought Gaukroger for fifteen quid.


FACTOR: I was brought up a poor farmer's son, and when he died he got no stone but a hummock in a damp field, with thistle and cowshit for his dignity. Now I have tramped through thirteen battles fighting haw-haw dukes and their retainers and I find you, poor man, chipping vulgar pomp for my oppressors. You understand what I must do. On seeing a lie, a good man stamps on it, or skins it like an onion till the yellow heart is clear to see... (GAUKROGER works on for a long time.)


GAUKROGER: I want to finish the head...let me finish the head....




Scene Nine


The aisle. The SOLDIERS, bearing sledgehammers, march down, singing.


SOLDIERS (to the tune of 'The Girl I Left Behind Me'). Oh, Jesus Christ belongs to us, His words are plain to see, We don't need no arch-bishops crawling on their knees! (Then, like a chant, to 'Rule Britannia'.) Up the republic! The rep­ublic will be free! No more bishops and no bleed-in' monarchy! (To the first tune.) Christ is our mate, 'e makes us hate all things vain and i-dIe, Stuff the Bishops and the Pope, We'll find 'im in the Bi-ble! (Reprise) Up the republic! the rep-ublic will be free! No more bishops and no bleed-in monarchy!



Scene Ten


The crypt. Distant sounds of singing and rampage.

MURGATROYD: This ain't 'eaven. I can 'ear Apps. Apps bawlin'. (He looks at VENABLES, who is still.) This ain't   'eaven. 'O put me down 'ere?

VENABLES: Shut up, you hideous idiot.

MURGATROYD: Oi! The cook ain't dead! Down 'ere, lads!

VENABLES (taking a blade from her skirt). Be quiet or I will stab you. (He looks at her.) I have no qualms about stabbing.         Really. None.         .


MURGATROYD: No, Mrs, I don't think you 'ave... (Sound

   of destruction above.)


Scene Eleven



CROOP presides over an orgy of destruction.

CROOP: Oh, Jesus, thy servants attack thy prison, tear down the walls of thy incarceration and bring thy mockers into just rebuke! Behold thy servant Apps in ecstasy of Christ relief!

APPS (swinging a hammer). 'ow am I doin'?


CROOP: Good work, soldier in Christ!

APPS: Carry on?


CROOP: He commands thee!


SPONGE: Jesus is in me, Mr Croop.


CROOP: This also is a. war, this also is a battle!


SPONGE: 'e says to me, all that offends thee, strike it out. . .


CROOP: Make haste, then! Cast down the fortress of



SPONGE: That's right, then, is it?


CROOP: Oh, when He works in thee, thou knowest it. . .


SPONGE: That's what I thought. . .


CROOP (proceeding). Down Jericho, down, the tinsel of thy enemies!



Scene Twelve


Sounds of wreckage. GAUKROGER, on a ladder, working.


POOL enters, in ill-fitting armour. He waits until GAUKROGER catches sight of him.



POOL: Them  Gothic canopies we spent three months on-----you should see 'em. An' the Tudor screen----I won't tell yer... (GAUKROGER carries on working) Tomorrow I do training on twelve-foot pikes. Present pikes! Slope pikes! Pikes avaunt! (Pause.) Then I get on to muskets. Mark V. Mark VI are waiting for delivery. (Pause.) Flint! Flint primed! Draw powder! (Pause.) Double Dutch to you, ain't it? Then I got religious training. The Soldiers catechism, pages 1 to 17... (Pause.) 'ow do yer like me?


GAUKROGER (looking contemptuously): I have heard the sight of uniforms might make a girl's legs wobbly. . .


  Sound of soldiery entering.

  APPS: 'ullo, 'ullo, what 'ave we 'ere?


GAUKROGER: There. Now talking to you, I haven't



SKINNER: Off the ladder, mush!


APPS: Off the ladder!


GAUKROGER: I wonder if you might consider leaving this, as I've yet to be paid for it. Everything else I've settled, ate, drunk and swallowed it.


SPONGE: Get off the ladder.


APPS: Off the ladder.


GAUKROGER: Ah. Appeal falls on deaf ears.


SKINNER: We'll finish it for you. Down you get. (He descends

a little way, looks at it finally.)


FACTOR (entering). How do they pay you?


GAUKROGER: With money.


FACTOR: (to the SOLDIERS). Where do they have it from?


 APPS: Money?


FACTOR: Yes, the money for the mason.


SPONGE: From the Labourer!


FACTOR: From the labour of the ploughman, the wood­

cutter, the milkwoman, the shepherd, the coal digger. That is how they have their money. Where is the tomb of the ploughman, the woodcutter, the milkwoman, the mason? The place the thief lies dead in is better than his labourer's house.


GAUKROGER (turning). I shall be in the taproom of the

   Green Man if any of you want new monuments. . .


FACTOR: We have no monuments because we worship no



GAUKROGER: Then I'll rot in the pub and be buried under

the floorboards.


SPONGE: 0l' geezer, we are breakin' it. . .


GAUKROGER: I'd be glad if you don't steal my hammers,  you can trade a decent hammer for a pint­----


POOL: Don't walk out. (Pause. He stops.) You just made that.


GAUKROGER: I had a nightmare once. That people spent their lives making something they called Museum. And I went through the door of Museum, and saw great galleries of objects under glass. And I saw my own work, and men were polishing it with soft cloths, and a boy who tried to carve his initials on the tomb was beaten and called delinquent. And Museum grew, until it covered England. Now, let me go.


POOL: Stay and argue for it.


GAUKROGER: The plough will go through every palace and

   the bomb in every bedroom------


POOL: Codswallop. (Pause) Say what it is. (Pause.)


GAUKROGER (starting to go). No pity in History-----


­POOL: No. Argue for it. (Pause.) What is it? Rock, is it?

FACTOR: It's sweat, and suffering, and going without, and touching caps, and bending knees, and dirty childbirths on old straw, and drinking unclean water and all old England's lovely parks and stinking hospitals. . .


SPONGE: Bust it!


POOL: It's somethin' else-----it is----- (He turns to GAUKROGER in pain.) What is it? (Pause.) Say what it is. It's you. Say it. Say it. (Pause.)


SPONGE (picking the hammer). You do it.


POOL (Thrusting his face near GAUKROGER's): Why don't



GAUKROGER: Your breath smells of pickle. You've been

hiding it.

Pause, then with exasperation POOL grabs the hammer from SPONGE and to a ragged cheer, sets about the monument. GAUKROGER turns to leave.


FACTOR (standing aside). Go on. And think in a quiet place why we could not tolerate the praise of robbery...


(GAuKROGER hesitates, then leaves. CROOP appears at FACTOR's side)


CROOP: What are you saying?

FACTOR: I said we­----


CROOP: Yes, I know what you said, I wonder what you are saying. . . I find the soldiers are less vehement for Christ than grudging against property. I wonder why. I wonder who presumes to teach them. Not me. I teach idolatory to be a sin, not property.


FACTOR: Is there any difference, Mr Croop?


CROOP: Oh, come, come. . .


FACTOR: Christ teaches-----


CROOP: Does He? Are you telling me what Christ teaches? I

thought I was the preacher. I thought you were in the artillery.


FACTOR: I quote scripture.


CROOP: Very good. But anyone can quote scripfure. I quote

scripture myself. The monarchists quote scripture. I don't think there's much future in that.


FACTOR: We fight for Christ's kingdom on earth.


CROOP: You see, saying things like that really doesn't help,

does it? I mean, I know what I mean by it, and they know what they mean by it-----But what do you mean by it?


FACTOR: I mean there shall be no rich men nor poor men. No            leaders and no followers. No vicars and no flocks.  (Pause.)


CROOP: Yes, I rather thought you did…. You are probably aware there is a prohibition against the teaching of communism in the army. Well, of course you do, you are an officer. If anyone can read the Standing Orders it must be you.


FACTOR: This is a civil war, Mr Croop. The longer it goes on, the less civil it gets. Banners fray, and slogans crack, and men who went out simple to the field come back educated, puzzling their wives. . .


CROOP: Are there many like you in this regiment? (Pause.) I ask because... well, I simply ask. .. (FACTOR turns and goes. CROOP turns to the disorderly SOLDIERS.) Why are we fighting? (They look at him, bewildered.) Why are we

   fighting? (They stare blankly.) Come on, come on. . .


SPILLMAN: Because we are right!


CROOP: Thank you. And why will we win?


BOYS/SKINNER: Because we are stronger?


BOYS: Wake up, Apps!


CROOP (calmly, softly). Why are we stronger?


ALL: Because God's on our side! (Pause, they watch him walk up and down in the rubble.)



CROOP: I think we've done enough destroying. I think if there is one sin more loathsome than all others it is the sin of excess. I think now we learn patience, tolerance and self­-control. I think we say, though we have come from battle rough-handed and clumsy in our boots, we might tread among fine things and yet break none. So the people may say of us, look, the regiment passed by with feet as light as angels, though five hundred marched among fine china, they did not break a single cup. . . (They stare at him.)



Scene Thirteen


The crypt. MURGATROYD is lying fixed by the sight of VENABLES blade. Sound of boots marching.


MURGATROYD: Can I speak? (Pause. He reads the title of a

massive framed painting against his face.) 'O's Car-a-vaggio?


VENABLES: They're going... We're safe. ..


MURGATROYD: Oi! What about the cooks? (Pause. The

footsteps grow fainter.)


VENABLES: Let the cooks bury the cooks...


MURGATROYD: Come again?


VENABLES: Blood comes, and all is quiet again, and up the

pictures go, back on the walls. . .




VENABLES: Undiminished by the human squalor. . .




VENABLES: Rebel, I am going to cut your throat. (Pause. He

looks into her eyes.) Traitor.


MURGATROYD: No, I was lookin' for a job­-----


VENABLES: Wrecker.


MURGATROYD: This geezer said-----­


VENABLES: Anti-Christ.


MURGATROYD: Two bob a week and no danger-----well, 'e

was wrong there, but then 'e never met Apps, did 'e------


VENABLES: Republican.


MURGATROYD: Why 'ave you gone be'ind me...? (The

candle in the lantern goes out.) Put on the light. . . (Pause. It is dark.) Put on the light....



Scene Fourteen



The nave, full of fractured masonry. GAUKROGER is drunkenly tripping and stumbling down the aisle. He sees VENABLES in front of him, stops.


GAUKROGER: Oh, Mrs... I have drunk your currency away. .. and slashed it down the publican's urinal. .. He said I might have had nine pints, but the wrong man's head          was on the coin. . .


VENABLES: The vermin broke my dead love's tomb...


GAUKROGER: Vermin, as you say, Vermin and Vermin.


VENABLES: Restore this. Every last bit of it. (Pause.)








VENABLES: Did you say why?


GAUKROGER: I think I did. Maybe it wasn't me. . .


VENABLES: Why, he says. We need great art, that's why.

(Pause.) Are you drunk, or acting?

GAUKROGER: I think I could be Bernini.


VENABLES: You are drunk.


GAUKROGER: I think-----I think if only I had drunk more-----I would have been a great original.... (He looks up to her eyes.) Where's my tool bag, I am full of visions! Give the man a drink and let his dreams out of the bottle! There it is, look----(He belches.) Inspiration! (He trips, falls among broken stones. He picks one fractured item up.) Oh, look at that. . . I could spend ten years and never get a shape as fine as that. . .I praise this object as evidence that great art is only born of temper! Let the infantry in the museums!


VENABLES: I wish to speak to you. Get off the floor.


GAUKROGER: Look how improved all my stale old labour

    is. ..


VENABLES: We have to have art or we don't know who we

    are. It's very simple. Do get up.


GAUKROGER: The crack is better than my line, the

    accident far better than the carving... (He holds up a

    smashed item of sculpture.) Poor boys who had a little beauty,

under their pimples and cropped heads. . . how do all my studied scrolls compare with that? That's life!


VENABLES: You've gone barmy. Shock or liquor's made you



GAUKROGER: Don't you see there's life in that!


VENABLES: When all the world is tilted we need people who

can keep their feet, who say of all calamity, this is a setback, but I hold to my own truth, I will not waver. The storm of history. When it has passed, clean up. Stone on stone. Brick on brick.


GAUKROGER (seeing blood on her dress): Ladies shouldn't sew. They only prick their fingers. . . (Pause.) That's cook's stuff on your dress. . . the colour of old gravy... where is he?


VENABLES: Where is who, silly?


Scene Fifteen



The crypt, MURGATROYD lies dead on the bench. GAUKROGER is heard singing.


GAUKROGER: Oh, Mother, do not fret for me/I am not in the infan-try /But round the stew-pot pass the day/Far from the dying and the fray/And sip the rations of the men/Who won’t be coming back a-gain......................... (GAUKROGER appears, holding a light. VENABLES behind.)  Stand up the dead man! I smell your soup!


VENABLES: Mind the masters!


GAUKROGER: Mind the masters!

VENABLES: Over there...


GAUKROGER: Master on the right! Where is he? Cook! (He comes to him.) Oh, you have two wounds, wasn't one enough for you, you have to be murdered twice, the greed of the unfortunate----(He goes to lift him.)


VENABLES: Mind the masters! (He tries to hoist MURGATROYD.) Get on my back, you can't stay here, you're no work of art, are you, God's chisel slipped on your phizog, you were made in the evening, nothing beautiful is created after five o'clock. . .  .


VENABLES: Mind the Caravaggio!


GAUKROGER: Caravaggio!


VENABLES:  They ran riot in the cathedral, talked sordidly in chapels but God hid my pictures from their eyes, showing He loves art!


GAUKROGER: I claim this man's a saint.




GAUKROGER: Because he loved life so much he wouldn't leave it voluntary. What greater compliment to God? I say the    cooks shall sit on the right hand of God and the soldiers shall be thrust into hell. Who murders cooks kills life. Show me a cook with a medal and I'll show you a mason with a mansion.


VENABLES: Dump him where you see fit.


GAUKROGER: I'll stick him with the tatters of a bishop.




GAUKROGER: Why, where's better? Half the tombs have

been smashed open. It's a paradise for murderers, this war.


VENABLES: He was an atheist.


GAUKROGER: No man who cursed God half so much could

   be one.


VENABLES: Oh, very well, do as you wish. (They mount the

   steps, GAUKROGER carrying the body on his back.)


Scene Sixteen


As GAUKROGER staggers down the aisle with MURGATROYD's body, the SERGEANT steps out from behind a pillar. He taps his thigh with a switch. GAUKROGER stops. Pause.  .


BOYS: I'm looking for a body. (The briefest pause.)


GAUKROGER: Have you tried the churchyard?


BOYS: Done the churchyard.


GAUKROGER: No bodies there?


BOYS: Are you hiding him?


GAUKROGER: Well, now you ask me... (He turns to VENABLES, revealing the entire length of MURGATROYD's corpse.) Am I hiding him?




GAUKROGER (turning back to BOYS). She says no.


BOYS: If you see him, we are camping at Ancaster.


­GAUKROGER: Ancaster...


 BOYS: Tell him to catch up.


 GAUKROGER: I will do.


BOYS: No man who has joined can leave us, except by de-mob

   or death. Tell him.


GAUKROGER: I will do. (Pause, the SERGEANT looks at

   GAUKROGER severely, then turns on his heel. He goes a

little way, stops.)


BOYS: He died, then? The cook?




BOYS: We thought he would never. . .


GAUKROGER: There's no never with death... so far as we know. .. (BOYS looks a moment, then goes out. They stare until he is gone.)


VENABLES: Thank you.


GAUKROGER: Oh, don't thank me.


VENABLES: I must do----I'll write to you from Calais.


GAUKROGER: Oh, don't write to me from Calais! Pay me

instead. (Pause.)


VENABLES: How much?


GAUKROGER: All of it.


VENABLES: It's busted----


GAUKROGER: Not by me. (Pause.)


VENABLES: Robbery!


GAUKROGER (slyly): Murder...


VENABLES: When England's back to normal. Come to me,

then. All bills will be settled, and loyalties made good. . . (She makes to go.)


GAUKROGER: Will it be long, do you think? I mean before tea-time? (She looks at him, goes out. GAUKROGER lowers the body to the floor. He sits down, leaning against a tomb.) I carved a hand, and I imagined its destruction. I made love to my wife, and I imagined her an old woman. I ate, and even as I looked at the plate, I imagined myself starving. And now the hand is destroyed, and the old woman is an old woman, and I'm starving. It's no preparation... (Pause. A hand appears from inside the tomb, holding a sandwich.)


POOL: Guvnor?


GAUKROGER (looking at it). You ass. You have deserted. (He takes the sandwich and bites into it. POOL's face appears in the crack.)


POOL: I'm sorry I-------


GAUKROGER: You'll----get----hung----for this­----


POOL: Come again?


GAUKROGER: Changing your mind'----they don't allow it.



POOL: I never stole no armour. Put it back.


GAUKROGER: I can't pay you.


POOL: Teach us to do the 'and, Michael. The 'and recumbent.

The 'and demonstrative­------


GAUKROGER: Dead art.


POOL: Never.


GAUKROGER: Frilly cuffs and whispering Catholics, scent­ed fingers made for intrigues. . . the new hand will have blunt fingers, not made for running up a woman's knee. . .


POOL: We'll get it­


GAUKROGER: Can't teach you. (Pause.) Can't eat this sandwich, either. . .

POOL (aghast). Can't eat a sandwich...?


GAUKROGER: Something's sticking round my teeth... I think it's History. . .


POOL (scrambling out the tomb). Geddup, Gaukroger! (GAUKROGER shrugs.


POOL squats before him.) Find the language. Find the style. New manner for new situation. When in doubt, invent. Copy. Cheat. Get by.


GAUKROGER: He lectures me...


POOL: Calamity, all right, bowled over, flat on yer back, looks bad, admitted, but not fatal, still got 'ands, still got 'eyes……


GAUKROGER: He exhorteth me. . .


POOL: Stick with it, Michael, eh? (Pause. GAUKROGER looks at him wearily.)


GAUKROGER: Give us a hand. (POOL pulls him to his feet.)

   Help me put this saint away. (POOL impulsively kisses GAUKROGER's hand.)


POOL: Sorry.


GAUKROGER: Sorry? Why?

POOL: I know 'ow you 'ate sentiment.


GAUKROGER: Comes of chipping it all day. Like the undertaker, when his wife was dying, pleaded 'Dearly Beloved, Don't Depart!' Too much imitation leaves you nothing for the real. . .


POOL: Was real. (GAUKROGER embraces POOL.) Was





WOMEN BEWARE WOMEN Howard Barker & Thomas Middleton


UK £5.95 USA$10.95






Middleton's Women Beware Women portrays, like other Jacobean plays a ruling class unable to divorce power from lust and therefore unable to embody the state as a rigid absolutism. Howard Barker has seen in this drama an analogue for today's political mix of austerity and profligacy. For this brilliant collaboration with a dead fellow-professional he has retained, in the first part, substantial sections of the first three and a half acts of Middleton, then written his own second part where Middleton's characters speak. Barker's language and enact Barker's plot. His conclusions are uncomfortable for democrats and authoritarians alike, but Barker has always subordinated didactic simplicity to aesthetic complexity. With this remarkable fusion of periods, Barker confirms his status as one of Britain's premier contemporary dramatic poets, a status publicly recognized with the outstanding success of his trilogy at the RSC's Pit theatre in 1985.

Pity in History, commissioned by the BBC, neglected, and eventually produced in 1984, shows the conflict and contradiction of the artist/craftsman in a society moving through chaos. Set during the English civil war, but with Barker's usual eye on the present, its swoops of idealism, cynicism and fanaticism, and the mingling of all three within the single personality, mark it as one of the most passionate and eloquent affirmations of the creative will.

The Press on Women Beware Women:

'Unsettling, stimulating and inventive' - New Statesman

'Energetically sustained work' - Times

'Combative and exciting... the second act has all Barker's usual wit...' - Guardian 'Never ceases to provoke and surprise' - Telegraph

'Thrilling theatricality' - Stage

Cover photograph by John Haynes of Joanne Whalley as Bianca in the Royal Court Theatre Production of Women Beware Women. Cover Design by Thomi Wroblewski.


By the same author from the publishers:

Stripwell & Claw

The Love of a Good Man (also All Bleeding)

The Castle (also Scenes from an Execution)

That Good Between Us (also Credentials of a Sympathizer)

No End of Blame

Heroes of Labour (in Gambit 29)

The Hang of the Gaol (also Heaven)

Two Plays for the Right (The Loud Boy's Life, Birth on a Hard Shoulder) Victory: Choices in Reaction

The Power of the Dog

Crimes in Hot Countries (also Fair Slaughter)

A Passion in Six Days (also Downchild)

Don't Exaggerate (Poems)

Breath of the Crowd (Poems)






ISBN 0714541346