Rediscovered two page plays by Harold Pinter and John Mortimer to be performed

Alice Jones' Arts Diary

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The Independent Culture

When Umbrellas, a lost sketch written by Harold Pinter for a revue at Nottingham Playhouse in 1960, resurfaced two years ago, it sent Giles Croft, the theatre’s artistic director, scurrying to the archives.

There he discovered 50 short plays by the cream of British theatre which had not seen the light of day in 50 years. This week five of the unknown gems will be performed at the theatre.

They include Please Step Down, a one-woman sketch by John Mortimer in which a skittish Miss Frink attempts to lure her neighbour down to her flat by calling him up on the phone in a series of funny voices.

And Then and Now, a silent piece by Shelagh Delaney, which contrasts the work-life balance of couples in the 1900s, the 1960s and, thanks to a modern postscript added by Michelle Vacciana, in 2013. Umbrellas, first revived at the time of its discovery in 2011, will also be performed.

“At some point all of the old scripts were taken to the county archive and sat there, unloved, for a very long time. They are all just a couple of pages long. The shortest is Pinter’s, at one and a half pages”, says Croft. “When we called up the writers’ estates they were rather amazed – they knew nothing about them.” Croft also found two unknown plays by Keith Waterhouse and plans to stage them next.

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