Rules of the Drama

Epitaph for George Dillon

John Osborne & Anthony Creighton
The Kitchen

Arnold Wesker
The Hamlet of Stepney Green

Bernard Kops

Penguin Plays, 1964




The Epitaph


A very comprehensive play with a characteristic way of writing in pools of thought, glimmering surface and muddy depths in which the fish are seen swimmimg, or greatly imprecise and all-encompassing as the Ruth theme ("far-away left" politics and Brown Windsor patronage) contrasted with Mr Barney Evans of the theatrical profession ("you've got to be ruthless").

The latter's successful plays chart the course of Epitaph for George Dillon. George's epitaph figures in My Skin Is My Enemy, Josie is the Slasher Girl, Mr Colwyn-Stuart the religionist adds up to I Was a Drug Fiend (faith and works), finally Telephone Tart is George the would-be artiste, waiting for his call.



The Kitchen Sink


Arnold Wesker wrote the play that gave the name in certain minds to A Taste of Honey (Delaney's or Richardson's) and suchlike creations, it's a play about a restaurant that turns out hot food in large quantities at a rate beyond the competence of any good cook and illustrates forcefully what is to be sought in this money-minded factory of debilitating art, like the souvenir-makers in The Lavender Hill Mob or G.B.S. on the repertory actor of yore.

Such an argument extends to criticism as well. Obviously, churning out the stuff every day leaves some critics unable to see the forest for the trees, the play for the set design, English poetry for the Fleshly School (or the Satanic) and that sort of thing, The Kitchen for the kitchen sink.

Breton had the Fauves in mind, certainly, when he wrote his manifesto.



The Prince of Herrings


The joke always goes like this. Such a nice young rabbi! With a trade to fall back on! Why isn't he married?

Hamlet marries Ophelia instead of Teddy-Boying toward mass murder, and the joke isn't on Shakespeare but on Teddy Boys.

This real theme, which runs throughout the three plays (London, 1958-59), is intricately woven in Epitaph for George Dillon, violently expressed in The Kitchen, and treated as open burlesque in The Hamlet of Stepney Green. The sturdy hand of the artist puts together something worth having, Hava Segal is a lovely girl, David Levy is a nice young Jewish man gone mad to be a crooner. His father Sam the pickled-herring merchant dies in the garden bemoaning his life and his wife, misunderstood he returns to avert a catastrophe.