The Rear Column tells the story of five soldiers stranded in the jungle of the Congo Free State in 1887. They are awaiting the return of the explorer, Henry Morgan Stanley, who has gone to relieve Emin Pasha, General Gordon’s last surviving lieutenant in the Sudan. As food and medicines run out, and the porters become restless, the endurance and sanity of the whole group, and their relationships with one another, are sorely tested.
The Rear Column was presented by Michael Codron on 22nd February 1978 at the Globe Theatre, London.
The cast was as follows:
BONNY – Donald Gee
JAMESON – Jeremy Irons
WARD – Simon Ward
TROUP – Clive Francis
BARTTELOT – Barry Foster
STANLEY – Michael Forrest
JOHN HENRY – Riba Akabusi
NATIVE WOMAN – Dorrett Thompson
Director: Harold Pinter
Designer: Eileen Diss
Lighting: Nick Chelto
Costumes: Elizabeth Walker
A production of The Rear Column was staged at the Iron Age Theatre, Philadelphia, from March 4th-21st, 2010. The cast was as follows:
BARTELLOT – Adam Altman
BONNY – Dave Fiebert
WARD – Luke Moyer
TROUP – Chuck Beishl
JAMESON – Ray Saraceni
STANLEY – Charles Conwell
JOHN HENRY – Joshua Cameron
NATIVE WOMAN – Tiffany Joyner
Directed and Designed by Randall Wise & John Doyle
The Rear Column was performed at the Staatstheater in Hanover as Die Nachhut with the following cast:
The Rear Column was filmed for television in 1980, also directed by Harold Pinter
‘Gray’s natural urbanity and Pinter’s punctilious pace and exactness of feeling both emphasiized the fragile and yet tenacious nature of what civilization persisted, and made the real horrors, always a little in retrospect, more shocking.”
A. S. Byatt, The Times Literary Supplement, 25 April 1980.
1978 Times Review of The Rear Column
Simon Gray on The Rear Column
Hewison’s cartoon of The Rear Column in Punch
The Rear Column is now available as a Faber Contemporary Classic in Simon Gray: Plays 3. To order a copy on special offer at 25% discount please contact Faber using code GRAYPLAYS. Or check out the plays section of our bookshop.
The Rear Column is also published in the following editions:
The Definitive Simon Gray Volume II(Faber and Faber 1993 ISBN 0-571-16453-6)
Plays 1 (Methuen 1986 ISBN 978-0413404206)
The Rear Column, Molly and Man in a Side Car(Eyre Methuen 1978)
The Rear Column (Samuel French US)
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