Plays

‘Looking at Lucian’, Alan’s latest play, has its world premiere at the Ustinov Studio at the Theatre Royal Bath in August 2017. It stars Henry Goodman and is directed by Tom Attenborough.

Henry Goodman as Lucian Freud in ‘Looking at Lucian’, a play by Alan Franks

Some of Alan’s many plays have been published and are available to buy via his author page on Amazon.

 

A World Elsewhere. 2014 Theatre503, director Sally Knyvette.

A World Elsewhere by Alan Franks

 

1968 Oxford, where an American postgraduate student is campaigning against the Vietnam war, immersing himself in college politics and falling in love with an impeccable English girl. The whole world at a crossroads. Performed at Theatre 503 in Battersea, London. Cast included Stephan Donnelly and Crispian Cartwright.

 

‘A World Elsewhere is at its best in wryly evoking the fragile hopefulness of youth, as embodied in the gangly, gauche form of Steffan Donnelly’s lovelorn, posh English Literature student Toby.’ Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph.

‘Franks creates a little microcosm of political intrigue, backstabbing and hypocrisy, where high-flown, idealistic talk bumps up against more mixed motives and imperatives… And the questions Franks raises about the significance of protest and how you translate well-meaning principles into action still seem very pertinent.’ Sarah Hemming, Financial Times

‘There’s an air of the familiar to Alan Franks’ play about life at Oxford University in 1968 – a pivotal, turbulent year in so many ways. Anxiety about the war in Vietnam permeates the play along with the whiff of weed and the songs of Dylan. Franks clearly understands the period deeply and the play contains some fascinating details about the shape of student activism at the time, the factionalism, the hunger lunches, the town/gown divide.’ Natasha Tripney, The Stage

‘Franks’ play is fascinating above all for its analysis of the political turmoil present on both sides of the Atlantic at that time. Told in a series of scenes that moves back and forth between Toby’s student flat and Mayhew’s college office as the drama builds towards its heart-rending climax, the five roles that populate the story are subtly well-rounded by way of eloquent writing.’ The Upcoming.

‘It perfectly captures a moment in history through the eyes of eager and perhaps slightly naïve students and has sparked an interest in me to further explore this tumultuous time.’ Everything Theatre.

 

Augusta. 2008 New End Hampstead.  Director Chrys Salt.

 

 

Augusta, by Alan Franks, was directed by Chrys Salt

A distinguished biographer is entertaining  an international diplomat called Patrick, the subject of his new book, in his smart London penthouse flat. Also present is Augusta, a Brazilian artist with a mysterious past. Why is she is so spooked by her fellow guest, whom she has never seen before? Or has she? And who is the caller who later turns up wihtoout without warning? Starred Brazilian TV celebrity Antonia Frering, and Jonathan Rigby.

‘There are some killer moments that catch the entire audience off guard and plenty of memorable lines. For the most part, Augusta is droll, quick-witted and has a healthy balance of poetry and realism.’ The Stage.

‘…the pyrotechnic writing of journalist Alan Franks where aphorisms, bon mots and great one-liners tumble forth in a veritable torrent.’ Camden New Journal.

‘Don’t get the idea that this is a dark piece about guilt and morals. It gives its audience an entertaining puzzle, leavened with laughter and an opportunity for four actors to indulge themselves in some enjoyable theatrics that Salt’s direction keeps within bounds.’ British Theatre Guide.

‘What interests me, I suppose, is trying to help the people in the plays decide what they feel about a thing. To be like a chairman, or an “active facilitator” for the characters.’ Alan interviewed about Augusta by Simon Wroe in the Camden New Journal.

Previous Convictions. 2005 Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond. Director Michael Napier Brown.

A West London family is divided over what to do about its ageing, ailing but undying matriarch. Back from Brazil’s remote Matto Grosso comes a prodigal son to add his claim to an already crowded field. Cast included mother and daughter Auriol Smith and Octavia Walters.

‘Franks, of course, is a wonderfully deft, intelligent writer. There is plenty of evidence of that in Previous Convictions. The play is variously about money, property, moral responsibility, political activism, marriage, intergenerational conflict, the pains of getting old and, because the family’s wealth came from a plant that grandad effectively stole from Brazilian Indians and sold to an American pharmaceuticals company, medical ethics and unscrupulous capitalism. It is rich and often fascinating stuff… the dramatic lens turns from the quarrels between Amanda and her mother, Auriol Smith’s Helena, and even from the troubles of Tony, who needs funds to avoid violence from unpaid building contractors in Brazil. Instead, the emphasis becomes Helena’s failed-writer husband, James Woolley’s Sebastian. This well-meaning but maudlin man is finely observed and performed.’ The Times

‘It’s swift, surprisingly funny and, in addressing the vexed question of care for the elderly, highly topical. If you find yourself in that next of the woods, check it out.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Franks has some interesting state-of-the-nation type things to say and he’s certainly capable of crafting a handsome-sounding phrase.’ Time Out

‘As with all great drama, the play asks a lot of difficult questions and gives us few satisfactory answers… The complexity of Franks’ characters and themes mean the play feels utterly original… The play does contain some blow you away in your chair type thrills – Sebastian’s (James Woolley) drunken elegiac anthem to his professional and personal mediocrity is as good a bit of writing and acting as I’ve seen this year.’ TheatreWorld

‘A play with a social conscience… Franks’ writing is elegant, articulate, his characters credible.’ What’s On

‘I once had a play on called The Mother Tongue, which starred Prunella Scales and I thought I would make myself useful and turn up for the rehearsals, but actually I was redundant and ended up making the tea.’ Alan interviewed in The Surrey Comet.

 

The Edge of the Land. 2004 Eastern Angles, director Ivan Cutting.

 

Simon Bubb, pictured here in Burning Bridges at Theatre 503, starred in Edge of the Land

A mother’s search across the country for the baby forcibly taken from her for adoption twenty years earlier. A split-time account set against the region’s great floods of 1953. The production visited many of the coastal communities affected by the disaster. Cast included Simon Bubb, who later appeared in the National Theatre’s hit production of Warhorse.

‘The fenland’s ongoing battle against against being submerged by the sea becomes a powerful, universal metaphor for the individual’s struggle with the past, illustrating how flimsy our protections are against the forces of feeling that lie deep within us….Franks writes with a poet’s ear for rhythm and phrasing, blinding sunshine on sand recalled as ‘a gift at the back of the summer’, a collapsing coastal fortification ‘slumping like a drunk in the night’. Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph.

‘Do we attempt to lock ourselves in behind walls and massive defences, or recognise that this is one intruder who will always find a weak link and merely crash in the harder, an idea that finds a parallel theme in this play? Some say the land should be used to soak it all up, which to their opponents is like expecting the carpet to absorb any flood. But this is maybe to continue the analogy a wave too far.’ Director Ivan Cutting’s production notes.

A Wing and a Prayer. 1993 New End Hampstead, director Chrys Salt.

Joan, Peggy and The Dame are a formidable trio doing battle with the forces of control and standardisation in a care home on the Sussex downs. Located on a site of reported miracles, hope springs eternal. Cast included Lala Lloyd (Poirot, Steptoe, Upstairs Downstairs) and Claire Vousden (Little Britain, Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley.)

 

The Mother Tongue. 1992 Greenwich Theatre, director Richard Cottrell.

Recently widowed Dorothy comes to stay with her daughter Harriet and grandson Benji after her own house has been gutted by fire. Will she ever stop talking about the perfection of her own past marriage and the deficiences of her daughter’s present one? More to the point, will she ever leave? Starred Prunella Scales (Fawlty Towers) and Gwen Taylor (Heartbeat, A Bit of a Do.)

 

Our Boys. 1984 Falcon Theatre Company, Camden, director Dennis Quilligan.

A tabloid newsroom at the height of the Falklands war in 1982. The strike-hit office becomes a battleground for the private and political differences of the staff. Starred Brian McDermott, founder of The Bush Theatre; Beattie Edney (Poldark, Highlander, Inspector Morse), daughter of actor Sylvia Syms; Chris Dunne (28 Days Later).

 

The Changing. 1984. Irish Theatre Company, director Frank Hatherley.

Set in a London pub on the brink of modernisation, where a group of young actors is planning to stage Middleton and Rowley’s classic Jacobean drama, The Changeling. They meet fierce resistance from the regulars, led by Liam, as the conflict comes to mirror the older troubles of his native Ireland. Starred Carmel Cryan, veteran of the TV hit The Rag Trade, wife of the late Roy Kinnear and mother of their actor son Rory; also Johnny Murphy, best known for his roles in The Commitments and Angela’s Ashes.

Other performances/public readings: 

The County Man (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond): consternation at county team’s first black cricketer; Me And Madonna Tower Theatre, Islington: the American pop queen  drops by.

Front.  2013 Royal Court. Stop The War’s  “Ten” programme of plays and music. Director Philip Wilson.

A married couple argue about the terms of their engagement and the agencies which they might invoke to help them. With Kika Markham (Edward and Mrs. Simpson; The Line of Beauty) and Alan Williams (Vera Drake; Starlings).