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Drawing the Line (play)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Drawing the Line is a 2013 play by Howard Brenton, centred on Cyril Radcliffe and his part in the Partition of India. It premiered from 3 December 2013 to 11 January 2014, in a production directed by Howard Davies at the Hampstead Theatre.[1]


The play tells the story of Cyril Radcliffe and the boundary commission for the Punjab portion of the eponymous Radcliffe Line. “Ignorant of India, mathematics or map-reading, the principled Radcliffe finds himself the victim of despair, as well as Delhi belly, and enmeshed in a whole series of escalating conflicts.”[2]

Production history

The debut run of the play was completely sold out. Thousands of people from 80+ countries also tuned in to watch the final performance streamed on the web in association with the Guardian.[3][4]

Critical reception

Reviews and comments[5][6] were generally positive though there were critiques of some embellishments to the story. Compliments included "brilliantly staged",[7] "absorbing",[8] and "gives a vivid picture of the pressures of the time".[9] Criticisms included that the play "fails to soar"[10] and "brushes the boundaries of caricature".[11]

Portrayal of historical figures

As Lord Mountbatten, "Andrew Havill gets beneath the cold, defender of the realm, exterior to eventually present him in a more human light, as a man with weaknesses and vulnerabilities that lead to him believing resolving his personal problems was justification for resorting to political expedience when everything else would tell him otherwise."[12]

In a live webchat, Howard Brenton answered questions about his acclaimed play and his career. Defending his portrayal of Cyril Radcliffe as a man who struggled with his conscience, Brenton said “There were clues that Radcliffe had a dark night of the soul in the bungalow: he refused to accept his fee, he did collect all the papers and draft maps, took them home to England and burnt them. And he refused to say a word, even to his family, about what happened. My playwright’s brain went into overdrive when I discovered these details.”[13]


  1. ^ "Hampstead Theatre Schedule". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  2. ^ "Guardian Review of Drawing the Line". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Playbill Review of Drawing the Line". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Storyacious Review of Drawing the Line". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Evening Standard Review of Drawing the Line". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Storyacious Review of Drawing the Line". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  7. ^ "The Arts Desk Review of Drawing the Line". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Huffington Post Review of Drawing the Line". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  9. ^ "Guardian Review of Drawing the Line". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  10. ^ "A Younger Theatre Review of Drawing the Line". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Telegraph Review of Drawing the Line". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  12. ^ "The Public Reviews: Drawing the Line". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Web Chat with Howard Brenton". Retrieved 14 July 2014.

External links

This page was last edited on 18 November 2018, at 10:24
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