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Last Updated on March 10, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 326

David Storey's play The Changing Room is a somewhat formless story that depicts a group of men on a rugby team and their interactions in the locker room prior to and following each of their games. The story has little in terms of definitive plot; instead, it decides to show the characteristics of the men and their responses and adaptations when engaging in physical sport.

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Sport as a Stand-In for War

At many points in the play, the preparation for the rugby match is compared to a battle. The men act as if they are going into a war zone, and upon completion, they tend to their wounds and lament their loss or celebrate their victory in much the same way soldiers do. The purpose of this battlefield imagery is to call back to days of war, when men were required to go out and fight. Now, with no outlet for violence and rage, the men turn their attention to games like rugby and football.


While all the men in the story come from different backgrounds and walks of life—some wealthy, some poor, some young, and some old—they are all unified for the game. There is brotherhood in the game, just as there was historically in battle: differences ceased to matter when people fought together for a common purpose.

Human Nature

This final theme stretches over all the others, as Storey uses this play to comment on human nature and the need for an outlet for humanity's more violent tendencies. The men, he tacitly argues, need war, or a display of it, to show their ferocity and dominance, release their aggression, and unify themselves with those around them. He argues that it is in our nature to revert back to more animal and ritualistic instincts, and this game is a way to express those. The changing room serves as the ritual training ground and celebration room for the wars that people can no longer participate in.

Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 562

One of the functions of The Changing Room is to mark, and perhaps to lament, the passing of a way of life. This is expressed in several nostalgic monologues, phrased by stupid or inarticulate characters. In one outburst in act 2, Harry expresses the opinion that the world is degenerating: The players are not the men their fathers were; increased prosperity has not been distributed fairly; it would be as well if the communists invaded and took over. No one shares his political views, but Fielding, a senior player, remarks in act 1 that the extra money he has earned, and which his wife has made him use to buy a house in the country, has left him less happy than he was when he lived in the dirty, cramped, industrial center of town. In act 2, Kendal, dazed and in pain from his broken nose, seems to regret having come up from the coal mines and the amateur game. Several characters regret the passing of old days, finding in them community, friendship, and certainty—if also drunkenness, poverty, and hardship.

Not all agree, though, and this disagreement creates much of the play’s tension. A few players are clearly on their way up. Patsy, some of them remark after he has left, saves all of his money and has a schoolmistress as a girlfriend. Trevor, the team’s fullback, is himself a schoolteacher in daily life. Attending to a cut on Trevor’s ear, Mackendrick remarks...

(The entire section contains 888 words.)

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