We know what you’re thinking: plays are better seen than read. But some plays are so beautifully written, engrossing, and funny that you’ll read them straight through! Especially as the reading goes much faster when most of the text is dialogue. 😏
You don’t have to be a die-hard theatre fan to enjoy these captivating plays!
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Here’s a play based on real-life events that will strike fear even in the bravest of hearts. The Crucible takes place in Salem, Massachusetts during the Salem witch trials.
The play starts off with the daughter of the community’s Reverend. It is rumoured that she and the Reverend’s niece, Abigail, are part of a group of girls who perform ungodly rituals while dancing in the wilderness. Parents whose daughters appear sickly start getting worried and scared.
It doesn’t take long in the rigid theocratic Salem community for accusations of witchcraft to unfold, galvanising the town’s fears and suspicions. The conflict deepens when Abigail accuses one Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch.
A witch hunt ensues, and those who don’t go to church often or dislike the Reverend, are held in suspicion of being witches. Elizabeth is brought to trial along with other accused women, who are at risk of being executed.
The ruthlessness of the prosecutors and the eagerness of Salem’s community to testify against their own neighbours show how the law can be misused and the devastating effects of that.
The injustice faced by the accused women and the intensity of the trial make the play a enthralling read. Borrow it here.
The Pillowman by Martin Mcdonagh
It begins with some dark stories. Fiction writer Katurian, who lives in a police state, writes brutal stories about child murders.
He finds himself suddenly arrested and brought in for questioning. Katurian is confused about this arrest and thinks that he is under suspicion of running political messages against the totalitarian government in his stories. Yes, the whole situation is pretty kafkaesque!
But it soon becomes clear why he is questioned—someone is committing murders that resemble those in his stories.
To make matters worse, Katurian’s disabled brother Michal, is also brought in for questioning.
As the detectives delve deeper into the case, more details about the brothers surface. Michal was abused by their parents in an artistic experiment to make Katurian a better writer, and when Katurian found out about this, he was so enraged that he smothered his parents to death.
Do the brothers have a role to play in the chilling murders? And should the writer be held responsible for someone else’s obsession with his work?
Find out when you borrow the play.
Richard III by William Shakespeare
The play is set in a period of peace after a long civil war between the House of York and Lancaster. Richard resents his older brother Edward’s power on the throne. Malicious, power-hungry and bitter about his physical deformity, Richard aspires to usurp his brother as King.
He executes his other brother Clarence, and guilts Edward about it, who falls ill and dies. Richard then takes over as Lord Protector of England after both his brothers’ death—he is in charge until Edward’s two sons are old enough.
You’d think that Richard would be satisfied with the throne, but he starts turning paranoid, overly suspicious and tyrannical. In his bloodiest move yet, he sends hired killers to murder his own nephews.
Will Richard descend deeper into insanity as he battles his paranoia to stay on the throne? Will the public stand for his tyrannical ways?
Borrow the page-turner here.
There you have it! Three thrilling plays that will keep you up all night. If you’re interested in reading more plays, be sure to check them out at NLB’s NORA.