Out of the Margins

15 SEPTEMBER 2023 - 06 OCTOBER 2023
The Snail House 1. Cover 3. Headshot 2. Annotations
The Snail House
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26. Richard Eyre

The Snail House

The Snail House 
Signed and annotated 
First edition paperback 
19.8 x 12.9 cm 
London: Nick Hern Books, 2020

ESTIMATE


£1,000 - 10,000

This auction has now ended

Out of the Margins (26/55)

Notes


"I've tried to look at the play critically," begins Richard Eyre's annotations. "It was not a success but I still believe in it. However, if it ever get to do another production, I know how to make it better!" 

The pandemic brought out the playwright in the former artistic director of the National Theatre, and The Snail House becomes, courageously, his first original play in a vast, rich oeuvre of directed and adapted works for stage and screen. 

The play centres around Sir Neil Marriot, who had a ‘good pandemic’, becoming familiar to millions from his TV appearances as a government medical advisor. His service even earned him a knighthood, and he is now rewarding himself with a lavish birthday party in the hallowed surroundings of his son’s alma mater. But, amidst the oak panelling, the champagne and the silver service, his family are at one another’s throats again, and he thinks there’s something familiar – and somehow unsettling – about one of the catering staff… 

After discovering the origin of the play's title (which the playwright got to via Google, but in a humorous note admits he can't now find the original source), we learn from Richard Eyre that "I wanted to write a play about work and class and family. Also about medical ethics. Perhaps I took on too much. Many of the reviews thought so." We then go into the details of making a play, how beginnings are always difficult, how he'd envisaged the first scene in a room he used for the film Iris, all the lines he needs to cut for next time ("too much exposition!"). 

There is something so humbling witnessing an artist in self-critical mode: "probably should have had less song", "I could have been much more sparse with the dialogue", "is this too heavy handed?". Which is what this contribution to the auction is: an insight into a playwright learning from the process of writing and making a play, and being brave enough to acknowledge what went wrong, as well as what went well: "I liked this scene a lot and it was beautifully played".

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