A gripping historical drama that dramatises a crucial moment of English history.
December 1648. The Army has occupied London. Parliament votes not to put the imprisoned king on trial, so the Army moves against Westminster in the first and only military coup in English history. What follows over the next fifty-five days, as Cromwell seeks to compromise with a king who will do no such thing, is nothing less than the forging of a new nation, an entirely new world.
Howard Brenton’s play depicts the dangerous and dramatic days when, in a country exhausted by Civil War, a few great men attempt to think the unthinkable: to create a country without a king.
Blog Entry: Howard Brenton on the context to 55 Days: Recently I met a Frenchman in London and we fell to talking about the high drama of the climax of the French Revolution: the struggle between Danton and Robespierre. ‘In this country you don’t remember you also had a revolution,’ he said, adding, rather waspishly, ‘and you don’t realise you still live with the consequences’... Read on >>
'The beauty of Brenton's play is that, as with so many of Brecht's, there is a conflict between theory and action... the real pleasure lies in seeing a pivotal moment in English history presented with such fervent dramatic power.'
'Intellectually intricate and emotionally stirring.'
'A forgotten era of revolutionary British history is fascinatingly unlocked... electrifying.'
'[A] confident and idea-packed piece... It could have been a dour history lesson. Instead it engages with the present, raising some pungent questions about the kind of democracy we have in Britain today.'
Howard Brenton is a prolific playwright whose plays have been staged at the Royal Court Theatre, National Theatre, RSC and Shakespeare's Globe among others. Other writing work includes collaborations with David Hare and thirteen episodes of the BBC1 drama series Spooks.