Crossing the Bar (Three Plays)

Lucy Gough
Publication Date: 
Thursday, March 9, 2000
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There’s a point in between. The sea and the sky, Heaven and Hell, life and death. Where the debris of life carried out on the flow meets the sea and is forced to let go. If you fail to cross over that bar you go down with no soul. So says the mysterious Keeper of the purgatorial cell that is the setting for the poetic and evocative ’Crossing the Bar’. A nun speaking medieval English and an inner-city drop-out on remand find themselves sharing this bleak place. The bald contrasts of their origins and personalities is the source of some humour; the Nun’s religious intensity a foil for the Boy’s nihilistic despair. This highly imaginative, award-winning play raises complicated issues with dramatic aplomb.

’Head’ is an original reworking of Keats’ macabre ’Isabella, or the Pot of Basil.’ On a bleak modern estate, Ella retrieves the head of her murdered lover and buries it in a herb pot, and revenges herself on the killer, her brother, with a frying pan. Out of this implausible material, Gough creates a frequently haunting and savagely funny drama.

A dramatic poem controlled by rhythms, ’Our Lady of Shadows’ is a dark and thought-provoking play, inspired by Tennyson’s ’Lady of Shalott’, which explodes our expectations of the myth.

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