Simon Gray adapted Spoiled from a television play of the same name. The television version of Spoiled was first broadcast by the BBC on 28th August, 1968, as part of the Wednesday Play series.

Spoiled is a play about the tensions that arise in a schoolmaster’s home when he invites one of his ‘O’-level French pupils to spend the weekend before the exam there for some last-minute coaching. Donald is a nervous, over-mothered boy who works in a shop; he is anxious to better himself for his mother’s sake and to please his teacher. Howarth is a born teacher, but his enthusiasm and flair for play-acting and for getting the best out of dull pupils seem to mask a kind of self-indulgence. Joanna, his heavily pregnant wife, full of unease, begins to see this clearly as the weekend progress: the realization only makes her more vulnerable.


Spoiled was first performed at the Close Theatre Club in Glasgow in 1970. The cast was as follows:

HOWARTH – Daniel Massey
JOANNA – Stephanie Bidmead
DONALD – David Hayman
LES – Philip Sayer
MRS CLENHAM – Pamela Pitchford

Director: Stephen Hollis
Set and Costumes: Krystian Borkowski
Lighting Design – Ian Pygott

Spoiled was subsequently performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, on 25th January, 1971. It then played at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, from the 15th February before moving to the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, on 24th February 1971.

The cast was as follows:

HOWARTH – Jeremy ordering xanax Kemp
DONALD – Simon Ward
JOANNA – Anna Massey
LES – Peter Denyer
MRS CLENHAM – Pamela Pitchford

Director: Stephen Hollis
Designer: Anthony Holland


‘Though the play is a miniature, it is one most delicately treated, and its handling of the forlorn youth growing up timidly in a wilderness – and at heart, we imagine, darkly resentful – is something that, thanks both to the dramatist and the sensibility of the actor, Simon Ward, I shall not forget.’ J. C. Trewin in The Illustrated London News, 6th March 1971

‘This is far and away Mr Gray’s best play to date. He eschews shock tactics and sensationalism and offers a study in depth… It is precisely the hints, ambiguities, and even a chilling intimation of evil which generate excitement and ensure that this is no mere psychological case-history.’ Frank Marcus in the Sunday Telegraph


Spoiled is now available as a Faber Contemporary Classic in Simon Gray: Plays 1. To order a copy on special offer at 25% discount please contact Faber and use code GRAYPLAYS. Or check out the plays section of our bookshop.

Spoiled is also available in the following editions:

Spoiled is also available in the following edition:

The Definitive Simon Gray Volume I (Faber and Faber 1992 ISBN 0-571-16223-1)

Spoiled (Eyre Methuen 1971)


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