A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

Definition

Theater

  • The first stage play by Peter Nichols. First producedat the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre in 1967, it subsequently ran forseveral months in London with Joe Melia and Zena Walker heading thecast. There have been several revivals, including a 2001 productionin which the part of Bri was played by Eddie Izzard.

    The play concerns the attempts of Bri and Sheila to care fortheir daughter, Josephine (nicknamed Joe Egg), who has cerebral palsy.Because they have different ways of coping with the heart-rendingstrain of the child's disability, their marriage begins to suffer,especially as Bri begins to suspect his wife of having an affair.Bri eventually has a breakdown and half-heartedly attempts to letJoe die of exposure. Sheila promises to find a nursing home for theirchild.

    The play, which is notable for its bitter comedy, draws onNichols's own experience of caring for a severely disabled child.Documents show that the Lord Chamberlain's office was worriedby the upsetting subject matter and even suggested, grotesquely, that Joeshould be played by a ventriloquist's dummy rather than a real child.

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