Philip Ridley



  • (1967 - ) British playwright, novelist, film-maker, and artist, whose highly original work has frequently caused shock. Ridley was born into a working-class family in the old East End of London, where he has continued to live and draw his inspiration. In the 1980s he studied at St Martin's School of Art and began to exhibit as an artist. He then showed the breadth of his talents by publishing novels for both adults and children and making several forays into film - notably with his screenplay for The Krays (1990) - while still in his early twenties. Ridley's first work for the stage, The Pitchfork Disney, was staged at London's Bush Theatre in 1991; a strange dream-like piece about two travelling showmen who menace a couple in their own home, the play became a word-of-mouth success and is now seen as heralding the in-yer-face school of the mid 1990s. It was followed by The Fastest Clock in the Universe (1992) and Ghost from a Perfect Place (1993), a play about an ageing East End gangster that divided critics with its scenes of violence and sadism. For the next decade Ridley concentrated on writing fiction for children, but also began The Storyteller Sequence, a series of plays for young people that includes the popular Sparkleshark (1997) and the more controversialMoonfleece (2004), about a teenaged BNP activist.

    Ridley then caused the greatest furore of his career with Mercury Fur (2005), a play set in a future society of gang violence and amoral, drug-inducedmayhem. With its scenes of sexual cruelty - including the torture of a child - the play upset several leading critics and Ridley's own publishers,who rejected it on the grounds that its horrors were 'gratuitous'. The production even experienced a police raid, when a resident living next to the informal space in which it was being staged phoned 999 in the belief that its violent scenes were being enacted for real. Ridley's more recent works have included the plays Leaves of Glass (2007) and Piranha Heights (2008), the opera libretto Tarantula in Petrol Blue (2009), and Heartless (2010), a typically idiosyncratic horror film.