The Changing Room

by David Storey

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Themes

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

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.

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.

Brotherhood

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.

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