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This major selection of works for the theatre offers a unique insight into the chaotic, violent, compassionate and unpredictable world created by Daniel Keene. Written as much for the page as for the stage, these plays and monologues challenge accepted notions of good and evil, cause and effect; they are a generously offensive assault, an argument of feeling. These plays are poems written for the theatre, as much a celebration of the theatre’s worth as a challenge to its prevailing values.
As well as an extremely various selection of shorter plays, which range from the elliptical Beckettian unease of The Eyes to the gently sinister fable of death in The Telling, this collection includes one of Keene’s most significant works to date, Terminus. Described in Paris Voice as “Keene’s darkest picture yet of the consequences of social alienation” which nevertheless offers “redemptive possibilities in both fiction and reality”, Terminus has been widely produced in major French theatres, garnering enthusiastic critical acclaim. Works such as The Falling Man, a monologue by an immigrant worker who has died in an accident while working on an archeological dig on Seneca’s grave, reveal more clearly the philosophical and political genesis of all Keene’s work. The Fire Testament, a horrific vision of a post-nuclear world written in a poetically debased English, shows how inventive and skilled Keene’s language can be. But all the plays, without exception, generate an emotional potency which stems from Keene’s unwavering commitment to the humanity of his characters and his deep belief in the humanising possibility of theatre.