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By Trevor R. Griffiths, Carole Woddis

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His concerns in these plays are the sacrifice by which a prostitute saves the life of a worthless queen and so herself gains ‘queenly’ virtues, and a similar self-sacrifice intended to destroy the cynicism of a former politician. With the general reassessment of mid-twentiethcentury drama, a fringe production of The Queen and the Rebels in 2002 might presage a Betti revival, though the odds remain against it. British dramatist [1968 – ] PLAYS INCLUDE: Spurning Comfort (1998), A Listening Heaven (1999), Mummies and Daddies (1999), Incarcerator (1999), Five Visions of the Faithful (2000), Clockwatching (2001), The Biggleswades (2001), Silence and Violence (2002) A Liverpool graduate who subsequently trained as an actor, Betts earned rave reviews for a burst of plays at the turn of the century.

State of Revolution attempts to present a political dialectic rather than a personal story but its hagiographic portrayal of Lenin against a complex revolutionary background does not come off as well as his Tudor portraits. His films have been more successful in handling epic themes. It would be good to see if Gentle Jack, drawing parallels between pagan folklore and capitalist mores with its onstage presentation of the god Pan and mixture of folk elements, theatrical effects and direct address to the audience could be made to work today.

He has been hailed as an outstanding new voice without the benefit of a production by one of the national companies or in the West End. His stint as writer in residence at Scarborough inevitably brought comparisons with AYCKBOURN . Certainly there are similarities to the master in the excruciating tragic-comic domestic situations captured in acutely observed dialogue in Clockwatching or A Listening Heaven but Incinerator is a verse drama of ‘cartoon savagery’ (Michael Billington). Connal Orton, the literary manager at Scarborough who opened Betts’ unsolicited script for A Listening Heaven, has suggested that he has now moved beyond his ‘social realist phase’ and that ‘his more overtly poetic plays’ are, in Betts’ words, ‘about characters who can use language and so create tragedy, rather than characters who cannot (thus creating comedy)’.

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