The Fastest Clock in the Universe

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The Fastest Clock in the Universe
The Fastest Clock in the Universe.jpeg
Poster advertising the 2013 London revival of The Fastest Clock in the Universe at the Old Red Lion Theatre.
Written byPhilip Ridley
CharactersThree male and two female
Date premiered14 May 1992
Place premieredHampstead Theatre, London
Original languageEnglish
GenreIn-yer-face theatre, Black Comedy
Setting"A dilapidated room above an abandoned factory in the East End of London"

The Fastest Clock in the Universe is a two act play by Philip Ridley.[1] It was Ridley's second stage play and premiered at the Hampstead Theatre, London on 14 May 1992 and featured Jude Law in one of his early major stage roles in the part of Foxtrot Darling. The production was the second collaboration between Ridley and director Matthew Lloyd, who would go on to direct the original productions for the majority of Ridley's plays until 2000.[2][3]

Like Ridley's previous play The Pitchfork Disney, The Fastest Clock was considered shocking for its time but generated considerable more controversy due to it featuring scenes of violence onstage as well as descriptions of animal cruelty. Nevertheless the play was a major success, winning a variety of awards.[4]

The play is the second entry in Ridley's unofficially titled "East End Gothic Trilogy", preceded by The Pitchfork Disney and followed by Ghost from a Perfect Place.[5][6] Although initially receiving a divisive response from critics these plays have grown in reputation and have been recognised as major works in the development of In-yer-face theatre[7] which radically characterised new writing in British theatre during the later half of the 1990s.

Story[edit]

In a flat above an abandoned fur factory in the East End of London lives Cougar Glass. He is thirty years old and obsessed with his self-image, doing all he can to appear young. He lives with his partner Captain Tock who he often makes wait on him, much to the Captain's dismay. As Cougar has an intense fear of ageing he regularly holds birthday parties where he pretends to be only nineteen years of age. He also uses these parties to invite young people whom he has falsely befriended to his flat, so as to seduce (and possibly even murder) them for his own pleasure. The victim of today's party is Foxtrot Darling, a 15 year-old schoolchild who Cougar has manipulated by becoming a new role model for him in wake of his brother's death. However, when Foxtrot arrives he has unexpectedly brought along Sherbet Gravel, a streetwise 17 year-old girl who is planning to become Foxtrot's wife and claims to be pregnant with his child. As the play progresses the atmosphere gradually intensifies as Sherbet takes control of the party, aware that Cougar is not what he appears to be.

Characters[edit]

Cougar Glass - A thirty year old man, he appears to be very narcissistic, caring little about others and instead being fixated with his own appearance. He also becomes hysterical and feels physically ill whenever he is reminded of his real age.

Captain Tock - A heavily balding 49 year old man. He has a job running an antique shop and has an obsession with birds. He is very wary of his health, taking vitamins and refraining from eating unhealthy food.

Foxtrot Darling - A 15 year-old school child. He has found a new role model in Cougar after the loss of his brother.

Sherbet Gravel - A streetwise 17 year old girl. She originally was the girlfriend of Foxtrot's brother until his death. She since has become Foxtrot's girlfriend and claims to be pregnant with his child. She yearns to have a more normal life, having previously been involved with gangs.

Cheetah Bee - 88 years of age, she is the landlady as her husband owned the fur factory below years before. Whenever Cougar gets distressed from being reminded of his real age she arrives and coaxes him by showing how old and unattractive she is by comparison.

Notable productions[edit]

World Premiere (London, 1992)

14 May 1992 at Hampstead Theatre, London.

Directed by Mathew Lloyd.

Off-Broadway Revival (New York, 1998)[8][9][10]

April 28 1998 at INTAR Theater, New York.

Performed by The New Group and directed by Jo Bonney.

  • Cougar Glass - Bray Poor
  • Captain Tock - David Cale
  • Foxtrot Darling - Joey Kern
  • Sherbert Gravel - Ellie Mae McNulty
  • Cheetah Bee - Jeanette Landis

London 2009 Revival (Hampstead Theatre 50th Anniversary Celebrations)[11]

22 September 2009 at Hampstead Theatre, London.

Directed by Edward Dick.

London 2013 Revival (21st Anniversary Production)[12]

5 November 2013 at the Old Red Lion Theatre, London.

Directed by Tom O'Brien.

  • Cougar Glass - Joshua Blake
  • Captain Tock - Ian Houghton
  • Foxtrot Darling - Dylan Llewellyn
  • Sherbert Gravel - Nancy Sullivan
  • Cheetah Bee - Ania Marson

Awards[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Urban, Ken (2007). Ghosts from an Imperfect Place: Philip Ridley's Nostalgia
  • Rebellato, Dan (17 October 2011). "Chapter 22: Philip Ridley by Dan Rebellato". In Middeke, Martin; Paul Schnierer, Peter; Sierz, Aleks. The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights. London, Great Britain: Methuen Drama. pp. 430–433. ISBN 9781408122785.
  • Sierz, Aleks (24 May 2012). Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s: Voices, Documents, New Interpretations. Great Britain: Methuen Drama. pp. 98–104. ISBN 9781408181331.
  • Dorney, Kate; Gray, Frances (14 February 2013). "1990-1999". Played in Britain: Modern Theatre in 100 Plays. Great Britain: Methuen Drama. pp. 146–147. ISBN 9781408164808.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Fastest Clock in the Universe (Modern Plays) Philip Ridley: Methuen Drama". Bloomsbury.com. Retrieved 2015-08-01.
  2. ^ CV of director Matthew Lloyd
  3. ^ Review by Ian Shuttleworth of the original production of Ridley's 2000 play Vincent River directed by Matthew Lloyd
  4. ^ "Philip Ridley - Knight Hall Agency". knighthallagency.com.
  5. ^ Rebellato, Dan (17 October 2011). "Chapter 22: Philip Ridley by Dan Rebellato". In Middeke, Martin; Paul Schnierer, Peter; Sierz, Aleks. The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights. London, Great Britain: Methuen Drama. p. 426. ISBN 9781408122785.
  6. ^ Sierz, Aleks (21 October 2015). Introduction. The Pitchfork Disney. By Ridley, Philip. Modern Classics (Reissue ed.). Great Britain: Methuen Drama. pp. 1–24. ISBN 978-1-4725-1400-4.
  7. ^ Rebellato, Dan (17 October 2011). "Chapter 22: Philip Ridley by Dan Rebellato". In Middeke, Martin; Paul Schnierer, Peter; Sierz, Aleks. The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights. London, Great Britain: Methuen Drama. p. 441. ISBN 9781408122785.
  8. ^ Production History web-page of 1995-2000 on The New Group's website
  9. ^ Marks, Peter (1998). "THEATER REVIEW; The Quicksilver of Love, but Rank and Kinky". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  10. ^ L. Daniels, Robert (1 June 1998). "The Fastest Clock in the Universe". Variety. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  11. ^ Archived Web-page of the 2009 production of The Fastest Clock in the Universe on The Hampstead Theatre Website
  12. ^ Web-page of the 2013 London production of The Fastest Clock in the Universe on TREMers production company website
  13. ^ "Playwrights' Studio, Scotland | ProjectsPlaywrights' Studio, Scotland | Awards". Playwrightsstudio.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2017-01-01. Retrieved 2015-08-01.
  14. ^ "Critics Circle Awards - 1992". Albemarle of London. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2018.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  15. ^ "Evening Standard Theatre Awards 1980-2003". The Evening Standard.

External links[edit]