Caring is a sparsely staged, lean duologue between Zena and Clarke, two characters who appear to be each other’s spouse, but also each the lovers of others. Through their exchanges of accusation, counter-accusation, clarification and obfuscation, an oblique image emerges of a life lived in tandem. Missed chances, loves spurned and ambitions thwarted are hashed out and compared like a tired game of trumps in this minimalistic meditation on the roles of memory and truth in love.
In his introduction to Storey Plays: 1, where Caring first appeared in 1992, David Storey writes ‘Caring . . . was very much written as a play within a play. Not long ago, for instance, playing with a grandson (aged six), I was struck by how important it was to him that the scenario we had 'negotiated' for our game was strictly adhered to: the passion with which our roles were assigned – i.e., not only who was what but who did what, and when, to whom – was more intense than that expended on the game itself – and infinitely more intense when these 'assignations' were deviated from, forgotten or ignored.
‘Yet – I reflected, later – we do this all our lives: if I love you will you love me? – negotiating roles we would like to have ourselves as well as those by which we would like to be surrounded.
‘Integral to this “collusion” is mutual regard: “caring” to negotiate our roles - and caring, further to amend them. It was with this “playing” process in mind that Caring came to be written.'