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Magnificence (play)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Written byHoward Brenton
Date premiered28 June 1973
Place premieredRoyal Court Theatre
Original languageEnglish
SubjectLeft-wing radicalism
Setting1970s London

Magnificence is a 1973 play by English playwright Howard Brenton. It premiered at the Royal Court Theatre and was next performed on the London stage in 2016, at the Finborough Theatre.


Magnificence has two plotlines. Firstly, five far-left revolutionaries squat an unoccupied house in London. Secondly, a Conservative cabinet MP loses faith in himself. The two plotlines converge in the final scene, where Jed (one of the revolutionaries) accidentally kills both himself and the MP with plastic explosive.

The published text of the play takes as its epigraph lines from Brecht's Die Maßnahme:

Sink into the mire
Embrace the butcher
But change the world.



Magnificence premiered at the Royal Court Theatre on 28 June 1973 with the following cast:

It was directed by Max Stafford-Clark, designed by William Dudley and the lighting was by Andy Phillips. Irving Wardle, writing in The Times, called it a wonderful piece of theatre.[1]


Magnificence was performed at the Finborough Theatre in 2016, marking its first appearance in London since the premiere.[2] The reviews were favourable, with the Evening Standard commenting that "Brenton’s vision of revolutionary zeal is memorably strange".[3] For BroadwayWorld the play was "both epic and intimate" and the Guardian wrote that "the play’s anger about the co-existence of homelessness and empty property still strikes a chord".[4][5]


  1. ^ Brenton: Plays One Methuen 1986 ISBN 978-0-413-40430-5
  2. ^ Tattersall, Sarah (1 November 2016). "Interview: Playwright Howard Brenton on 'Magnificence'". Everything Theatre. Retrieved 28 April 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Hitchings, Henry (31 October 2016). "Magnificence: A memorably strange vision of revolutionary zeal". Evening Standard. Retrieved 28 April 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Desk, BWW News (29 September 2016). "The Finborough Rediscovers Howard Brenton Classic, MAGNIFICENCE". Retrieved 28 April 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Billington, Michael (31 October 2016). "Magnificence review – Brenton's take on 70s Britain still explodes with anger". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
This page was last edited on 1 May 2020, at 17:15
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