Under the one title Naked Woman are brought together two plays by the critically acclaimed Garry O’Connor. The first, Semmelweis, is a victim play in the Tennessee Williams tradition, and the second, De Raptu Meo, is a theatrical re-creation of English poet Geoffrey Chaucer and his times. Semmelweis is from the start in a trap set by his own character and his overriding passion for truth. But his is a story of crushing disappointment, having parallels today, especially in medicine. To see flaws in the system, and to speak out against cover-ups and vested interest, invites pariah status and a ruthless sweeping aside in the relentless drive for conformity and profit. De Raptu Meo, as Libby Purves pointed out in her review, exposes the relativity of truth we find in contemporary culture, which she has contrasted with events surrounding English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, who faced, in Richard II’s reign, the accusation of rape. Present society is awash with stories of sexual abuse as no other age has been. Here is a take on that subject, with the audience asked to participate in Chaucer’s trial as if the jury, and at the end give a verdict as to whether or not he was guilty of the crime. Semmelweis was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival, and De Raptu Meo had its first reading in Inner Temple, with Derek Jacobi in the part of Geoffrey Chaucer, and its first full performance in the same venue with Ian Hogg in the lead role.
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Praise for Garry O’Connor’s biographies
William Shakespeare: A Popular Life
‘Garry O’Connor’s Shakespeare is a contemporary figure…. The ideas jostle each other off the page in this entertaining book. Speculating about the life of Shakespeare is an instructive way for all of us to look in the mirror.’ John Mortimer, Sunday Times
Alec Guinness: The Unknown
‘A brilliant detective story…. The more I think about this book, the more I come to believe that it is one of the truly great actor biographies of our time.’ Sheridan Morley, Literary Review
The Secret Woman: A Life of Peggy Ashcroft
‘A great achievement…a fascinating account.’ Michael Arditti, The Times
Ralph Richardson, An Actor’s Life
‘Stunning…. The best biography of an actor I’ve ever read.’ New York Times
Universal Father: A life of Pope John Paul II
‘A drama in which the soliloquies develop and deepen…the only life of the late Pope that is an artistic achievement in its own right.’ Damian Thompson, Daily Telegraph
Garry O’Connor has worked as daily theatre critic for the Financial Times, and as a director for the RSC, before he became a fulltime writer. As novelist, biographer and playwright Garry has published many books on actors, literary figures, religious and political leaders, including Pope John Paul II and the Blairs. He has had plays performed at Edinburgh, Oxford, Ipswich, London and on Radio 4, and contributed dramatised documentaries to Radio 3, scripts and interviews for BBC 1, as well as having his work adapted for a three-part mini-series.
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