Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 282

Although Edward Bond had written other plays, The Pope’s Wedding (pr. 1962, pb. 1971) was the first to receive a professional production at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1962. Other major plays that followed were Saved (pr. 1965, pb. 1966) and Early Morning (pr., pb. 1968), which were also produced at the Royal Court Theatre. Lear and The Sea (pr., pb. 1973) completed what Bond has described as his first cycle of plays.

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In them, Bond poses questions about the workings of society and reveals the violence inherent in it; for example, Bond writes about the murder of an old hermit in The Pope’s Wedding, the stoning of a baby to death in Saved, cannibalism in Early Morning, and mass infanticide in Narrow Road to the Deep North (pr., pb. 1968). He has made it clear that “people who do not want writers to write about violence want to stop them writing about us and our time.”

The second stage of Bond’s work includes Bingo: Scenes of Money and Death (pr. 1973, pb. 1974), The Fool (pr. 1975, pb. 1976), and The Woman (pr. 1978, pb. 1979). In these plays Bond examines society in three stages of cultural development. After The Woman, Bond went on to write a series of plays beginning with The Bundle: Or, New Narrow Road to the Deep North (pr., pb. 1978). These he calls“’answer plays,’ in which I would like to say: I have stated the problems as clearly as I can—now let’s try and look at what answers are applicable.” In the 1980’s, Bond turned to an exploration of nuclear holocaust (in The War Plays: A Trilogy, pb. 1985), which he maintains “is for our time the only subject—directly or by reflection—for art.”

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Critical Overview