Jump to navigation Jump to search

Shrivings is a play by Peter Shaffer(1926-2016)[1].

The original text

The play was first presented in 1970 in London's West End but was not completely successful.

Shrivings is the Cotswold home of Sir Gideon Petrie, an ageing, respected guru figure dedicated to non-violence who has turned this ancient retreat into a home for transients. His "family" of active protégés and potential disciples, is a young woman and a young man. The girl is vegetarian veteran protestor pre-occupied with commitment. The boy is a drop-out, over-eager and uncertain, finding half fulfilment in carpentry and superficial courting of the girl. The cement binding the trio is the worship of Gideon's noble ideal of total non-violence spiced with a dash of showmanship.

The result is a fragile garden of Eden.

Mark Askelon, the Philistine, arrives. A former pupil of Petrie who once worshipped his master's ideas, he since forsook them for more practical ones. His mission is to wreck his master's credo. Tortured by guilt and fuelled by liquor, his incapacity for immediate life forces him to experience life through others. He proposes a sadistic game using apples as buttons of original sin to shatter the unctuous facade of Shrivings and compel latent aggression to erupt in violence. The play ends with a Shaffer hallmark - a firm statement of love and human understanding.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1976: First performed in South Africa by CAPAB, directed by Roy Sergeant opening on 23 January 1976. Michael Atkinson and Percy Sieff were in the cast.

1982: Presented by PACT Drama at the State Theatre Pretoria and the Alexander Theatre Johannesburg in 1982. Directed by Roy Sargeant, designed by Ken Robinson, lighting by Paul Pamboukian. The cast: John Hussey (Sir Gideon Petrie), Louise Saint Claire (Lois Neal), Joe Stewardson (Mark Askelon), Andrew Buckland (David Askelon).

1983: Helen Mann and Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival production at the Port Elizabeth Opera House from June 20 -25, 1983, starring Angus McBride, John McDermott, Lorraine Young, and Trevor Hicks.


Shrivings theatre programme 1982.

Africa-Wide Database

Review written by Raeford Daniel, The Rand Daily Mail, 6 May 1982.

Shrivings Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival theatre programme, 1983.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page