John Godber


Plays by John Godber

April in Paris

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

April in Paris is a delicately wrought comedy filled with raucous indelicate dialogue. Al and Bet are a married couple, living a monochrome life. Left half-broke by Al's continuing unemployment, the couple bicker about everything from having no hot water, to Al's uninspired black-and-white paintings to Bet's obsession with magazine competitions.

When Bet finally wins one – the prize being a trip for two to Paris – there is the glimmer of romantic hope for a complete reversal of fortunes.Instead, it is in the slow gains, the addition of colour and the learning to be nice to one another again that gives this play its surprising, uplifting dénouement.

April in Paris was first performed by Hull Truck theatre Company in 1992, with the author and his wife playing Al and Bet respectively.

Bouncers (1990s Remix)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Bouncers by John Godber shows a night on the tiles from the point of view of the men on the door. It is a funny, energetic piece of highly theatrical storytelling where the men are at once themselves, and every character they happen to meet on a night at work at the nightclub.

In his introduction, the author writes: 'In many ways the content informed the form. The boredom of the men on the door spills over into grotesque violence and fantasy. The antics of the girls and boys out for a night on the town hardly need developing to make them dramatic. The conflict between those wanting a good time and those stopping a good time from being had is a basic dramatic premise . . . the central theme of Bouncers is universal: men after beer after women, and the beat goes on.'

Bouncers premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 1984. This revised version was first presented by the Hull Truck Theatre Company in 1991.

Christmas Crackers

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

It's Christmas at the A&E of a Hull hospital; as Keith the security guard keeps out of doors to keep an eye on the patients, their families, and the staff, we see an array of people come and go: from drugged-up Stevo to fagged-out Len, each with their own little mini-dramas to be seen. But Kath, the A&E nurse who this time last year lost her husband, is faced with the biggest drama of all, when she unexpectedly receives two tickets for a city-break to Prague.

Swiftly the action moves from the naturalistic setting of northern England to the expressionistic portrayal of Eastern Europe as Kath, along with her colleague Holly, experiences life's cold, frightening and amazing faces in Prague's mysterious environs.

Christmas Crackers was first performed by Hull Truck Theatre Company in December 2006 at Spring Street Theatre, Hull.

Crown Prince

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

'I have lived and worked in Hull and East Yorkshire since 1984 and it is well known for many things, not all of them laudable, but what is perhaps less well known is that region is incredibly flat and would be vulnerable to flooding should the ice-caps melt at any significant rate'.

John Godber's satirical play takes a look at what will happen when climate change finally tightens its grip on the lowlands. Set on the pitches of the rundown Beech Hill Bowling club, we watch across a period of twenty years as the environment disintegrates, and the Yorkshire landscape, both physical and social, is irreparably altered.

Crown Prince was first performed by Hull Truck Theatre Company in May 2007 at Spring Street Theatre, Hull.

Happy Families

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In his introduction, Godber describes Happy Families as 'a much more lyrical play than either Bouncers or Shakers. It is autobiographical, sentimental, domestic and insular, and yet it is quite theatrical at the same time. The narrator John speaks directly to the audience, arranging his/my life in a series of vignettes . . John takes us through the play from his eleven-plus failure to his graduation day as a drama teacher.

Happy Families was commissioned by British Telecom for the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain and received 49 simultaneous premieres by members of the Guild in October 1991. The play was subsequently rewritten and performed professionally at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in February 1992.

Lucky Sods

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Jean and Morris are the lucky sods of the title – they’ve just won the lottery. Morris bought the ticket and picked the numbers, but Jean changed one at the last minute. They sat, they watched, they won, it happened to them. Nothing on Friday and two million pounds on Saturday. But is it a dream come true?

Bad luck seems to follow after good, and as Jean and Morris keep striking gold, their lives are slowly coming apart, unnoticed amidst the glamour of Hollywood and Venice and a new conservatory. Lucky Sods is a hilarious and compassionate comedy about guilt, luck, and superstition, and lives changed forever.

Lucky Sods was first performed in 1995 at the Hull Truck Theatre.

Our House

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

May is moving out. After forty-five years in the same house, age – and the racket from next door – have finally driven her away from the home she made for herself and her family.

Her son Jack comes round to help, and as they move their boxes out to the van, we see memories playing out – snapshots of life shown against the backdrop of the changing social profile of the area, from working pit village to Northern sink estate.

Our House was first performed by Hull Truck Theatre Company in July 2001 at Spring Street Theatre, Hull. This revised version of the play was first performed by the same company in January 2008, at Theatre Royal, Wakefield.

Passion Killers

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Amid the sun, sea, sex and sangria of the Mediterranean, Andy and Tom find themselves torn between sexual promise and commitments back home. Or rather, Tom is torn, finding himself drawn to the self-deprecating Trish, but having to dash off all the time to phone his wife Gail. Andy is less troubled by pangs of conscience, and Trish’s friend Karen is a willing accomplice – though Andy might have to fight off the attentions of his lusty young rivals, Scott and Ray, if he is to consider his holiday to be a success.

Everyone on the package holiday to Benidorm seems to be looking for love – or something quicker – but home keeps getting in the way. Passion Killers is a scorching comedy about love and lust, holiday romance and getting thrown in the deep end of the pool.

Passion Killers was first performed in 1994 at the Hull Truck Theatre.

Perfect Pitch

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Ron and Yvonne have gone camping in a caravan bought with Ron's early retirement money. At a cliff's edge, with a view of the sea, they are looking forward to a life of relaxing after stressful careers, to touring in France perhaps, after a trial run in the campsites of England.

But what they imagined would be an uneventful time to themselves is interrupted when Grant, a bull-terrier breeding, middle-aged former miner pitches up next to them with his girlfriend Steph, a girl in her twenties. Their loud arguments, and even louder love-making, breaks the silence Ron and Yvonne had build around themselves, forcing them to accept situations, and home truths, far outside their comfort zone.

Perfect Pitch was first performed in 1998 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.

Shakers Restirred

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Shakers Re-Stirred we see the girls of Shakers cocktail bar, the newest, shiniest cocktail bar in town where, in spite of the glitz and glamour of the décor, the patrons, and the people who serve them, are none too happy at all.

In his introduction, Godber writes "The play was originally written at a time when old pubs were changing into cocktail bars almost overnight. It seems that fashion is changing so frequently that the cocktail bars have been replaced by theme pubs, which in turn are being re-fitted as coffee-houses. Essentially, however, the plight of the waitresses is the same, and it was a deliberate desire to attempt to draw the characters of the women with more detail that perhaps results in the pace being more realistic and much less nightmarish than its model. Nevertheless Shakers remains as much an exercise for actresses – asking for precision in role-playing and definition in characterisation – as Bouncers does."

Shakers was first presented by Hull Truck Theatre Company at the Spring Street Theatre, Hull, on 29 January 1984; the revised version given here, Shakers Restirred, was first presented by the Hull Truck Theatre Company in 1991.

Picture of John Godber

John Godber (b. 1956) is a British playwright and director known for his boisterous comedies; his work with the Hull Truck Theatre over 25 years has lead to his being dubbed 'the true mouth of the Humber'. Born in Yorkshire, the son and grandson of miners, Godber trained as a teacher, and became head of drama at his old secondary school in Minsthorpe. Students at Minsthorpe were thus the first to present many of Godber's early plays, which won a series of awards at the National Student Drama Festival.

In 1984 Godber became artistic director of the Hull Truck Theatre, a position he continued to hold until 2010. Faced with financial crisis, Godber made an attempt to woo local audiences with his first play for Hull, the comedy Up 'n' Under (1984). This runaway success was followed by a long string of hits, including Teechers (1987), On the Piste (1990), The Office Party (1992), Gym and Tonic (1996), and Perfect Pitch (1998), about a group of caravanning enthusiasts.

In the mid-1990s, a government arts documentary reported that Godber had become the third most performed playwright in Britain, after Shakespeare and Ayckbourn. His most popular work by far has proved to be Bouncers, a comedy about four doormen at a down-market nightclub that he first wrote in 1977 but subsequently reworked for performance in the 1980s and 1990s.

More recent plays, such as On a Night Like This (2000) and Sold (2007), which deals with the issue of people-trafficking, have been judged bleaker and less ebullient than earlier work. Godber has also directed and adapted plays by other authors, as well as writing widely for theatre.