Anthony Melnikoff

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(Winner of an international playwriting competition in 1995, its first professional run took place at Pentameters Theatre, London in May / June 1998, directed by Neil McPherson. Broke a thirty year box office record for that theatre, and was subsequently a runner-up in the Art’s Council’s 1998 / 99 Meyer-Whitworth Award for new writing. A further production took place in Leeds in June 2000 as part of the Wharfedale Drama Festival.)

Length (excluding interval): 100 minutes (2 acts).

Cast: 4 male (including 2 teenage), 2 female.

Synopsis: During a career that has lasted forty years, Steinberg, an Orthodox Jewish schoolmaster and Holocaust survivor, has deservedly become a legend amongst his pupils. But now he finds he can cope less and less with the generation gap between himself and his current crop, nor with the world of their parents. After the meddlesome mother of his most obnoxious pupil succeeds in forcing his compulsory retirement, occasioning also a near breakdown, she visits him, initially to salve her conscience. But soon she discovers that she has much to learn from Steinberg's spirituality. As their relationship develops, and Steinberg begins to look forward to her visits, his loneliness leads him to misunderstand her motives. And, with the Day of Atonement about to begin, he is forced to re-appraise his life, and those sacred beliefs that he has never before thought to question.

(First professional run took place at the Finborough Theatre, London in March / April 2000, directed by Neil McPherson. Achieved the second highest box office in the theatre’s history. Previously given a rehearsed reading at the Man-in–the Moon, directed by Jacob Murray.)

Length (excluding interval): 100 minutes (2 acts).

Cast: At the first professional production the cast, including doubling, consisted of:

3 male, 5 female (including 1 child)

Number of characters without doubling: 6 male, 6 female (including 1 child), 1 offstage female.

Synopsis: The time, 1940. The place, Eastern Europe. Paola Simiak keeps the local shop in a tiny village situated in the midst of dense forest. Paola is a dreamer, who loves to wander in the forest and to commune with nature, and who has a deep and very personal relationship with God. She is also the butt of her neighbours' ridicule, and the despair of her drunken and unfaithful husband, Jan. But there is one overwhelming sadness in Paola's life ... she is childless. And her frequent phantom pregnancies only seem to add to that sense of grief. Then, one day, as she is wandering in the forest, she discovers a small bundle lying at the foot of a silver birch ... a baby girl abandoned by its parents. "Can this be the child I was promised?", she asks herself. "The child that God told me He was going to send?" Paola sets about the task of bringing up the child in her own image. But, as War engulfs the area, Paola has to make the decision which will lead them both to their own inevitable destinies.

(Originally workshopped at the Soho Theatre, London, had a script-in-hand performance at the Finborough Theatre in October 1999.)

Length (excluding interval): 110 minutes (2 acts)

Cast: Ensemble piece, which can be played by a cast of 3 males and 4 females.

Synopsis: In the Summer of 1991 Adam Marcuse, a university lecturer from London, is on holiday in Los Angeles with his wife and their two young children, when his wife suffers a devastating brain haemorrhage. The next few months Adam spends at his wife’s hospital bedside, first in Los Angeles, and later back in London, while his wife, paralysed in both mind and body, hovers on the edge of death. Throughout this traumatic period, Adam copes heroically. But it is when his wife begins to make an unexpected recovery that Adam realises how much he has come to relish both the feeling of control, and the experience of being the centre of attention, that her illness has given him. And that crisis is often so much easier to deal with than normality. This autobiographical work is an attempt by the writer to describe his own actions and emotions when faced with the above situation. And its resolution.

(Runner-up in the 2000 Verity Bargate Award)

Length (excluding interval): 100 minutes (2 acts)

Cast: 2 male, 2 female.

Synopsis: Arnold Rosen has two sons, both of whom suffer from a genetic disease of the kidneys. Eight years ago Arnold donated a kidney to save his older son’s life. Now the younger one also requires a transplant. Arnold makes a proposal which, while saving his son’s life, would destroy his own. The focus of the play is on the moral dilemma which this poses, and on the family tensions, rivalries, and feelings of guilt which arise from this.


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