ISBN: Volume 2 :0-86140-373-8 £17.50
ISBN: The pair : 0-86140--374-6 £40.00
Written over the past twenty-two years Agora contains Francis Warner’s plays originally published in the Oxford Theatre Texts series, the theme of which is the West’s odyssey in discovery of its own values, and – in the second half of the work – what the Twentieth Century has done with them.
The first half of the epic (Volume 1) meets the classical tradition on its own grounds. It opens with Healing Nature, a play about Periclean Athens, and this is followed by a trilogy of Roman plays – Virgil and Caesar, Moving Reflections and Light Shadows – then Byzantium, and concludes with Living Creation, a dramatisation of Renaissance Florence under Lorenzo de’ Medici.
The second half (Volume II), opening with A Conception of Love, a comedy of love to mark the half-way point, is set in the Twentieth Century, and uses Twentieth Century techniques. It contains Maquettes for the Requiem Trilogy and the plays themselves, Lying Figures, Killing Time and Meeting Ends. Added as an appendix is Tim Prentki’s Introduction to the one volume edition of Requiem, published in 1980.
‘Common to all these plays is a focusing on a moment in history when the attempt was made to ennoble the life of man, to produce that great society, radiant in arts and civilised in politics, which is the mirage that haunts the traveller through the dusty plains of human history. Choice spirits struggle to unite beauty, justice, peace. Of course the struggle is always lost in the end. . . . Detailed. . . accurate . . . moving, with convincing dramatic power, Warner’s verse filled the ear satisfyingly, and echoes in the memory.’ Jasper Griffin, in Oxford Magazine
‘He is a master of plot and characterization, and, indeed, of the English language, which he commands with a benign authority and loving finesse.' The Stage
A ‘contemporary classic’ Oxford Mail
‘The remarkable series of dramas written by our most adventurous experimental playwright.’ The Times
‘Francis Warner is the most remarkable of those dramatists of our time who have striven to push the limits of theatre beyond their age-old limits. His plays have, by daring appeal to the realms of music and physiology, considerably widened the area of sensibility of those properly responsive to them. They are unique, possibly the only truly unique drama of our time.’ Sir Harold Hobson in The Sunday Times
‘The sort of illuminated shorthand of his style, allied to his arresting visual images, is clearly capable of making a very direct contact - and an electrically shocking one at that. He is a considerable writer.’ Plays and Players