Howard Barker

(2960 words)
  • Bernhard Reitz (Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz )

When critic Claire Armistead reviewed Howard Barker’s All He Fears for the Guardian in 1994, she rhetorically asked her readers whether “this great eccentric of English playwriting [is] a prophet or a poseur, a wit or a fool?” This question reverberates in British theatre criticism until today, and whenever a new play by Barker is to be assessed, his standing and importance as a playwright is discussed anew. Although from the mid-seventies onwards there have been a few theatre critics who described Barker’s work as “promising”, the majority of British reviewers still tend to support those who have accused Barker of not heeding “our need for a story” (Eric Shorter in the Daily …

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Reitz, Bernhard. "Howard Barker". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 14 April 2006
[, accessed 26 November 2015.]