by Roy McGregor; pound;6.99; Hodder Gibson
Roy McGregor's collection of three plays suitable for reading or performing is intended to fill a perceived gap in terms of interesting new script material. The text aims to meet both drama and English curriculum needs and contains a number of follow-up activities and discussion points.
The first play, A Stitch in Time, revolves around time travel and the adventures of Jimmy, an ordinary boy who finds himself centre stage in a fight to save the world. It has a large cast (although there is scope for double casting), numerous scene changes and a lot of stage business; which would certainly keep a drama class busy.
As a text, however, it is a bit fragmented and the exploration of theme is lost a little in pursuit of dramatic presentation.
The follow-up activities include useful sections on plot, structure and drama activities, but the writing activities are too task focused, as opposed to looking at skills.
The second script, Gangsters, is tighter and more successful. Don, the leader, initiates a search for his stolen prized possession. The round-up and interrogation of suspects provides a series of cameos for gangsters of both genders, and the American drawl almost drips from the pages.
The follow-up activities look at structure, motivation and character and blend nicely with writing activities on possible additional scenes and narrative extension.
The final, and shortest, text is The Bone Orchard, which explores the fatal consequences of a night visit to a graveyard. It is an atmospheric piece that could be readily staged in most drama studios and the 10 short scenes provide a good pace to the action.
The follow-up activities include a newspaper article (with guidance on format), personal writing and anagrams (central to the plot).
Overall the publication offers a useful resource, although it lends itself more to drama than English. The writer says he wishes the texts to be seen as "flexible enough to stretch pupils across a wide range of abilities" and this latitude provides practitioners with the opportunity to adapt the materials to suit particular cohorts.
Larry Flanagan teaches English at Hillhead High, Glasgow