A Guide to Modern Playwrights, Plays, and Productions

Major Modern Plays

The rich diversity presented here represents a renaissance of dramatic works of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, along with the plays that inspired them.

All My Sons Arthur Miller “All My Sons,” Arthur Miller’s 1947 Broadway hit, has been universally praised in its revival at the Royal National Theatre...MORE
Ashes to Ashes Harold Pinter “Ashes to Ashes” (1996) is the longer work on the double bill and here the horrors of war are no less effective because they are described...MORE
Assassins Stephen Sondheim “Assassins” opens in a garish fairground, as the proprietor of a shooting stall whose sign flashes  SHOOT! WIN! encourages eight customers to become winners instead of losers...MORE
Birthday Party, The Harold Pinter As is true of works by his friend Samuel Beckett, also poorly received at first,  Pinter's plays are marked by spare dialogue, silences, and a sense of menace lurking  just beyond....MORE
Brand Henrik Ibsen A powerful production of Ibsen’s lesser-known early work with Ralph Fiennes’ tour de force acting as Brand makes this a must-see....MORE
Buried Child Sam Shepard “Buried Child” at the National Theatre, as impressively directed by Matthew Warchus, was both haunting and hilarious, with Shepard’s view of the American family far from the picture depicted in advertisements or a Norman Rockwell cover, to which the skeletal homestead is compared....MORE
Candide Leonard Bernstein,
Lillian Hellman
Having seen four versions of "Candide," including the opening on Broadway in 1956, two cabaret productions and a recent Broadway version, I can report that this offering at the Royal National Theater in London was the best of the bunch....MORE
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Tennessee Williams “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” at the Lyric Theatre in London was a powerful play, perhaps Williams’s most powerful, because it concerns the family caught in a crisis common to most  – the imminent death of its head: ...MORE
Coast of Utopia, The Tom Stoppard As Tom Stoppard celebrates his sixty-fifth birthday, his fascinating new trilogy, “The Coast of Utopia,” has opened at the National Theatre in London....MORE
Copenhagen Michael Frayn In “Copenhagen” Michael Frayn achieves the impossible; he makes physics fascinating to the non-scientist....MORE
Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller Arthur Miller’s best play, the American classic Death of a Salesman, was a hit in a brilliant West End production formerly seen in Chicago and New York....MORE
Democracy Michael Frayn Michael Frayn’s Democracy at Wyndham's Theatre in London is complex, entertaining, and intellectually stimulating, dealing with West German Chancellor Willy Brandt and the East German spy who loved him, Gunter Guillaume....MORE
Edmond David Mamet Described by David Mamet as ” a morality play about modern society,” his tragicomedy “Edmond,” brilliantly revived at London’s National Theatre, stars Kenneth Branagh as a middle-class Everyman....MORE
Exiles James Joyce James Joyce’s only play, in a stunning revival at the National Theatre, was a combination of poetry and realism that only a genius could achieve....MORE
Four Saints in Three Acts Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thompson American author Gertrude Stein wrote two operas with composer Virgil Thomson....MORE
Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Stephen Sondheim When The Guardian credited this blockbuster with “strong claims to be the funniest musical ever written,” it was right....MORE
Galileo Bertolt Brecht For a thrilling production by Howard Davies, with the title role brilliantly played by Simon Russell Beale, beg, borrow or steal a ticket to Bertolt Brecht’s masterpiece “Galileo” at the National Theatre through October 31....MORE
Ghosts Henrik Ibsen The audience was shocked by the subject matter of "Ghosts," -- venereal disease....MORE
Hedda Gabler Henrik Ibsen Henrik Ibsen, to whom Arthur Miller acknowledges a debt in his Introduction to the Collected Plays, is represented in London by what must the best production of Hedda Gabler in recent memory....MORE
Iceman Cometh, The Eugene O'Neill "The Iceman Cometh" was revived in London and brought to Broadway last season, with Kevin Spacey as Hickey....MORE
Jumpers Tom Stoppard In Tom Stoppard’s 1972 farce Jumpers the gymnasts, or jumpers, are professors of philosophy, headed by Archie, the vice-chancellor/dean, in whose faculty we find ethics professor George Moore (no, not the George Moore, writer of Principia Ethica, as he must constantly explain)....MORE
Long Day's Journey Into Night Eugene O'Neill A memorable production of Eugene O’Neill’s tragic masterpiece Long Day’s Journey into Night depicts “the four haunted Tyrones” in a thinly-veiled account of O’Neill’s parents and his older brother Jamie on one day in their lives in their summer home in New London, Connecticut....MORE
Moonlight Harold Pinter "Moonlight," which premiered at the Almeida Theater in London in 1994, is a family play like "The Homecoming" and "The Caretaker." ...MORE
Mountain Language Harold Pinter “Mountain Language(1988) is Harold Pinter’s harrowing distillation of the horrors inflicted by war upon ordinary people – mothers, daughters fathers, sons....MORE
Noises Off Michael Frayn Michael Frayn’s farce about a farce has proved very popular in its revival at London’s National Theatre....MORE
One for the Road Harold Pinter “One for the Road,” presented first in London and then at the Pinter Festival in New York, is a much darker play....MORE
Pacific Overtures Stephen Sondheim Pacific Overtures at the Donmar Warehouse in London was a co-production with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, scene of the 2001 revival of .this brilliant Sondheim musical, a production that was both terrific theater and food for thought....MORE
Philistines Maxim Gorky Philistines”at the National Theatre, Maxim Gorky’s first play (1902), concerns not only the turbulent political chaos in Russia at that time, but its effect on a family conflict of old against young, rebellion against conformity, and freedom against restraint....MORE
Price, The Arthur Miller The Price enjoyed a splendid London revival with an outstanding cast interpreting a memorable work, its deep thought lightened by humor....MORE
Private Lives Noel Coward Noel Coward is regarded as a national treasure in England, and the centenary of his birth is a cause for celebration....MORE
Seagull, The Anton Chekhov Outstanding in a long list of must-see revivals was the National Theatre’s production of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” directed by Katie Mitchell, with Juliet Stevenson impressive as the vain, selfish actress Arkadina, a fading star who has little use for family and friends except as audience to her center-stage performance....MORE
Streetcar Named Desire, A Tennessee Williams At the National Theatre in London, Glenn Close is a definitive Blanche, the desperate heroine of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire....MORE
True West Sam Shepard Don’t miss the opportunity to see a brilliant revival of an American stage classic, Sam Shepard’s “True West”  at Circle in the Square....MORE
Voysey Inheritance, The H. Granville-Barker Harley Granville Barker’s 1905 drama about a respected paterfamilias, who also is an embezzler, has returned to  the National Theatre, where its first sell-out run prompted a comeback at the Lyttelton....MORE
Uncle Vanya Anton Chekhov The production of Uncle Vanya at the Donmar Warehouse is as ideal a presentation of Chekhov’s masterpiece as we shall ever see....MORE