Plague Over England written by Nicholas de Jongh
Published by Samuel French Ltd
1F, 10M but has been played 1F 4M
From the publishers:
Late on 20th October, 1953, Sir John Gielgud, then at the zenith of his theatrical career, was arrested in a Chelsea public lavatory. He pleaded guilty the next day to the charge of persistently importuning male persons for immoral purposes. In the prim, homophobic Britain of the 1950s, Gielgud’s offence attracted vicious criticism from public and press alike and threatened to terminate his career. A few weeks later, however, when Gielgud opened in London in a new play, something extraordinary happened.
Nicholas de Jongh’s Plague Over England, which opened to four star reviews at the Finborough Theatre in 2008 and transferred to the West End in 2009, where it was aclaimed for its wit and pathos, is not just a dramatized account of a scandal. It relates Gielgud’s emergency to the country’s political mood and depicts a nation in the grip of a gay witch-hunt. For those too young to remember the 1950s it offers an astonishing portrait of an England where homosexuality was likened to cancer and drug addiction.
This version has been revised by the author since its performance at the Duchess Theatre in London.
Nicholas de Jongh was shortlisted for Stonewall’s 2009 Writer of the Year Award.
“Not only wittily knowing, as one might expect from the autor of books on gay theatre; it’s also alive to pain, open to vulnerability and generous in spirit … a drama that can nove you to tears.” – Paul Taylor, Independent.
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