Touched (play)

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Touched is a play by English playwright Stephen Lowe.

The play opened at the Nottingham Playhouse on 9 June 1977, directed by Richard Eyre. It was revived at the Royal Court in January 1981, in a new production by William Gaskill. Both productions starred Marjorie Yates as Sandra. The play was joint winner of the George Devine Award in 1977.[1]

In February 2006, it was one of the fifty plays chosen by the Royal Court to represent the fifty-year history of the English Stage Company with readings in the Theatre Upstairs - Look Back: 50 readings, 50 writers, 50 plays.[2] The rehearsed reading of Touched took place on 22 February 2006, with Anne-Marie Duff as Sandra.[3] Nick Hern Books published a new edition of the play to coincide with this production, with a new afterword by Lowe.[4]

The play has been revived many times by regional theatres in England, including Derby Playhouse and Salisbury Playhouse,[5] and colleges, including RADA and Canterbury College in February 2011.[6] In February 2017, Nottingham Playhouse celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the play with a new production starring Vicky McClure as Sandra.[7] Five of the cast were graduates of the Central Junior Television Workshop in Nottingham: Vicky McClure, Aisling Loftus, Chloe Harris, Luke Gell and George Boden.[8]

Plot and themes[edit]

The play is set in 1945 during the hundred days between VE Day in May 1945 and VJ Day in August 1945, a period which also included the election of the first ever Labour government and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The play focuses on a group of women in a working-class suburb of Nottingham, especially Sandra and her sisters, Joan and Betty. Sandra has lost a child: not killed by an enemy bomb, but by a car in the blackout. Now, with peace coming, she is full of hope for a different kind of future. She says, "The world's changing. It's not going to go back to the way it was."[9]

Lowe was inspired to write the play by his mother: "I grew up on the usual pulp of heroic war films and comics... While therefore I gained a fairly graphic picture of the life of a soldier, it occurred to me while talking to my mother that I had hardly any picture of those who stayed at home - those whose battles had been fought in the landscape I had grown up in. I knew nothing, really, about the sacrifices and suffering of the women who only a few years later were to pick me up and put me down, and place pennies in my hand. Pennies I had never thought to return."[10]

As critic Lyn Gardner says, the play reflects “both the social mores of the time and the inner emotional lives of these down-to-earth women. It understands their tribal loyalties and their stern sense of working-class morality, forbidding fraternisation with the Italian POWs that might put one of their number beyond the pale.”[11] Time Out said of the play, "Touched is truly identified with working people and a radical vision, unlike many contemporary plays for which the same claim is made."[12]



  1. ^ Touched by Stephen Lowe, Methuen 1981, p 5.
  2. ^ Look Back: 50 readings, 50 writers, 50 plays. Royal Court website, archived page, 2006.
  3. ^ Latest News, Stephen Lowe's website.
  4. ^ Touched by Stephen Lowe. London, Nick Hern Books, 2006.
  5. ^ Touched, review by Lyn Gardner of 2008 revival at Salisbury Playhouse, The Guardian, 8 April 2008.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Touched by Stephen Lowe - Methuen 1981, p29.
  10. ^ Author's Note in Touched by Stephen Lowe, Methuen 1981, p2.
  11. ^ Lyn Gardner, 2008 revival (see above, ref. 5)
  12. ^ Touched webpage on

External links[edit]