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Oh, To Be In England

Oh, To Be In England

David Pinner

Oberon Books

“David Pinner’s 1976 play powerfully demonstrates how the patriotic clichés of our literary tradition can become a veritable lifeline for the diehard Anglocentric…Pinner’s dialogue is intelligent and witty” –Emily Hawes, Time Out


"If I was French, it would be simple; I'd commit crime passionel in a riot of garlic and vin ordinaire. And if I was German, I'd invoke the phantom of the Fuhrer and get hacking. In America, the husband generally shoots the family first, then takes a dozen high-powered rifles up some bell tower and blasts away at the town. But I knew the English way was the only way, God help me. You make a bloody great speech - and then you have a stiff drink.”

Like Pinner's contemporaneous 1973 Stalin play The Teddy Bears' Picnic, Oh, To Be In England was un-producible at the time of its writing because of its unapologetic skewering of political extremism in the UK. Unlike The Teddy Bears' Picnic, which finally ran in 1990 to press acclaim, Oh, To Be In England has remained lost. After thirty-five years, it is now receiving its world premiere.

Frighteningly prescient, and tragically current, Oh, To Be In England is a dark comedic examination what it means to live in an ex-empire in economic free-fall, and the political and personal extremism that results when all other belief is lost. A middle-aged Englishman, bred to believe in his innate superiority as a birthright of class, race, and gender, loses his job in the City. Left floundering impotently in a world that is no longer cricket, his family, security, and sanity follow close behind.


David Pinner trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, after which he appeared on stage and television in many roles.  While he was playing the lead in The Mousetrap in the West End, he wrote his first novel Ritual (later made into the film The Wicker Man). He has written two other novels With My Body and There’ll Always Be An England. His stage plays include Dickon, Cartoon, Lucifer’s Fair, Hereward The Wake, The Potsdam Quartet, Shakebag, An Evening With The G.L.C., Screwball, Revelations, The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, The Last Englishman, The Sins of the Mother, Lenin in Love.


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