Howard Brenton: The Churchill Play

(915 words)
  • John Baker (University of Westminster)
  • Steve Barfield (University of Human Development, Suleymanyia, Iraqi Kurdistan)

In The Churchill Play (Nottingham Playhouse, 1974), Howard Brenton offers a dystopian vision of a future fascistic Britain. The play is set in 1984, in an aircraft hangar in Churchill Camp, an internment camp for “undesirables”. Social unrest has led to the adoption of extreme authoritarian measures by the British government against its own people, including detention without trial; torture and arbitrary killing. The play opens with one of Brenton's most striking uses of the alienation technique, reminiscent of the equally disorientating start of Christie in Love. We are shown four servicemen mounting guard on the catafalque of Sir Winston Churchill in January 1965; suddenly, noises are heard from within the coffin, …

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Baker, John, Steve Barfield. "The Churchill Play". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 07 February 2005
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]