Three short plays by a cult late 20th century writer are a welcome introduction to his work, but Peter Barker finds these samples of his craft vary in quality.
You're Human Like The Rest Of Them
Down Red Lane
Not Counting The Savages
by BS Johnson
Bodies And Other Liabilities
A slightly earlier play in the Johnson canon, the faintly scandalous “Not Counting the Savages”, was originally commissioed as a BBC2 TV drama directed by Mike Newell. A wife and mother (Sarah Berger) returns home from a graveyard and tells her family how, while tending a family headstone, a male flasher ambushed her. She expects support and comfort.
The weakest piece is the final play, the blank verse “You’re Human Like the Rest of Them”. Originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1964, Johnson went on to direct it as a short film three years later.
Working around the set of the other play currently running at the Finborough Theatre, the design by Rūta Irbīte also feels rather over-fussy with 1950s second-hand furniture scattered around the walls of the two-sided space. Three-dimensional geometric shapes such as crescents and rectangles function as tables, chairs and other furnishing.