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Parthian Books

A Dirty Broth: Early-Twentieth-Century Welsh Plays in English

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Edited by David Cottis

With an introduction by David Cottis and Alyce von Rothkirch 

When Caradoc Evans’ play Taffy was first performed in London, the Western Mail reviewer described it as ‘like a dirty broth which, dished out to the English people, is swallowed with avidity.’  In so doing, it summed up the treatment often given to the tradition of English-language playwriting in Wales – sometimes ignored, sometimes disapproved of, rarely celebrated.

This anthology, the first in a series of three,  brings together three plays from the beginnings of Welsh playwriting in English; Change by J. O. Francis (1913), a family drama of the upheavals at the start of the twentieth century, Taffy (1923), a fierce satire on the Welsh social and religious establishment, and A Comedy of Good and Evil (1924) by Richard Hughes, a magical realist fantasy of the dilemmas faced by a country cleric and his wife when they are faced with a literal demon-child.

Edited by David Cottis, who also co-wrote the Introduction with Alyce von Rothkirch, this volume shows the earliest stirrings of the English-language theatre in Wales, and the first of many attempts to set up a Welsh National Theatre.  It sees the beginnings of the preoccupations and subject matter that were to characterise Welsh playwriting throughout the twentieth century, and to influence later writers such as Emlyn Williams, Dylan Thomas, Diana Morgan, and Jack Jones.