Plenty (play)

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Plenty is a play by David Hare, first performed in 1978, about British post-war disillusion.


Hare's inspiration for Plenty came from the fact that 75 per cent of the women engaged in wartime SOE operations divorced in the immediate post-war years; the title is derived from the idea that the post-war era would be a time of "plenty", which proved untrue for most of England.

Directed by the playwright, Plenty premiered in the West End at the Lyttelton Theatre on 7 April 1978, featuring Kate Nelligan as "Susan", the protagonist. It was nominated for the Olivier Award as Play of the Year and Nelligan as Best Actress in a New Play, losing to Whose Life is it Anyway? and Joan Plowright in Filumena.[1]

The play premiered Off-Broadway on 21 October 1982, at the Public Theater, where it ran for 45 performances. Directed by Hare, Nelligan reprised the role of Susan, supported by Kelsey Grammer and Dominic Chianese.[2] The play opened on Broadway (directed by Hare) on 6 January 1983 at the Plymouth Theatre, running for 92 performances and eleven previews. Nelligan was joined by Edward Herrmann, Daniel Gerroll, Madeleine Potter and George N. Martin.[3]

In 1985, Hare's film adaptation was directed by Fred Schepisi, with Meryl Streep as Susan, and Charles Dance, Tracey Ullman, John Gielgud, Sting, Ian McKellen, and Sam Neill in supporting roles. Ullman and Gielgud were nominated for BAFTA Awards, and Gielgud was named Best Supporting Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics.

In 1999, Cate Blanchett played "Susan" in a production in London's Albery Theatre.[4] From 3 to 26 February 2011 the play was revived at the Crucible Theatre as part of a David Hare season (alongside Racing Demon and The Breath of Life), featuring Hattie Morahan, Edward Bennett and Bruce Alexander.[5]

The play was revived Off-Broadway at The Public Theater, opeining on 20 October 2016. David Leveaux directed, with the cast that starred Rachel Weisz as Susan Traherne and Corey Stoll as Raymond Brock.[6] The 1978, 1982, 1983 and 1999 scripts were all examined and Hare was consulted as the production took shape.


Susan Traherne, a former secret agent, is a woman conflicted by the contrast between her past, exciting triumphs. She had worked behind enemy lines as a Special Operations Executive courier in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. However, she regrets the mundane nature of her present life, as the increasingly depressed wife of a diplomat whose career she has destroyed. Viewing society as morally bankrupt, Susan has become self-absorbed, bored, and destructive — the slow deterioration in her mental health mirrors the crises in the ruling class of post-war Britain.

Susan Traherne's story is told in a non-linear chronology, alternating between her wartime and post-wartime lives, illustrating how youthful dreams rarely are realised and how a person's personal life can affect the outside world.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Sources: Playbill;[3] Lortel [2]

  • 1983 Tony Award for Best Play (nominee)
  • 1983 Tony Award for Best Actor in Play (Herrmann, nominee)
  • 1983 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play (Nelligan, nominee)
  • 1983 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play (Martin, nominee)
  • 1983 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Foreign Play of the 1982–83 Season (winner)
  • 1983 Drama League Awards
    • Distinguished Performance, Edward Herrmann (winner)
    • Distinguished Performance, Kate Nelligan (winner)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Nominees and Winners of The Laurence Olivier Awards for 1978". Official London Theatre Guide. Archived from the original on 2008-01-18. Retrieved 2007-12-04. 
  2. ^ a b " 'Plenty' Off-Broadway", retrieved 11 February 2017
  3. ^ a b " Plenty' Broadway" Playbill, retrieved 11 February 2017
  4. ^ "Plenty of praise for Cate". BBC News. 28 April 1999. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Stasio, Marilyn. "Off Broadway Review: 'Plenty' With Rachel Weisz" Variety, 20 October 2016

External links[edit]