Lucie, Doug 1953-
LUCIE, Doug 1953-
PERSONAL: Born December 15, 1953, in Chessington, Surrey, England. Education: Worcester College, Oxford, B.A. (with honors), 1976.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Alan Brodie Representation, Ltd., 211 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HF, England.
CAREER: Playwright, actor, and director. Oxford Playhouse Company, Oxford, England, resident playwright, 1979-80; University of Iowa, Iowa City, visiting playwright, 1980. Director of plays, including his own work and student productions of The Duchess of Malfi, The Comedy of Errors, and Hitting Town. Actor in We Love You, produced in London, England, 1978, and Oh Well, produced in Oxford, England, 1978.
AWARDS, HONORS: Time Out award, 1988.
John Clare's Mad, Nuncle, produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1975.
Rough Trade, produced at Oxford Playhouse, Oxford, England, 1977.
The New Garbo, produced in Hull, then London, England, 1978.
We Love You, produced in London, England at Round House Theatre, 1978.
Oh Well, produced at Oxford Playhouse, Oxford, Eng-land, 1978.
Heroes, produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, then London, England, 1979.
Fear of the Dark, produced in London, England, 1980.
Poison, produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1980.
Strangers in the Night, produced in London, England at New End Theatre, 1981.
Hard Feelings (also see below; produced at Oxford Playhouse, Oxford, England, 1982; produced in London, 1983), published with Progress, Methuen (London, England), 1985.
Progress (also see below; produced in London, England at Bush Theatre, 1984; produced in New Haven, CT, 1996; produced in New York, NY, 1989), published with Hard Feelings, Methuen (London, England), 1985.
The Key to the World, produced in Leicester, England, then London, England, 1984.
Force and Hypocrisy, produced in London, England, 1986.
Fashion (also see below; produced in Stratford-on-Avon, England, 1987; produced in London, 1988; produced in Chicago, IL, 1992), Methuen (New York, NY), 1987.
Doing the Business (also see below; produced in London, England, at Royal Court Theatre, 1990), Heinemann (London, England), 1991.
Fashion, Progress, Hard Feelings, Doing the Business, Methuen (London, England), 1991.
Grace (produced in London, England, at Hampsted Theatre, 1992), Nick Hern Books (London, England), 1993.
The Shallow End (produced in London, England at Royal Court Theatre, 1997), Methuen (London, England), 1987.
Gaucho (produced in London at Hampsted Theatre, 1994), published in Plays 1, Methuen (London, England), 1998.
Plays 1 (contains Progress, Fashion, Grace, and Gaucho), Methuen (London, England), 1998.
Love You, Too, produced in London, England at Bush Theatre, 1998.
The Green Man, produced in Plymouth, England, at Drum Theatre, 2002.
Also author of television plays A Class of His Own, 1984, and (with Nigel Planer) Funseekers, 1987.
SIDELIGHTS: Once viewed as a left-leaning author of zeitgeist drama, Oxford-educated British playwright Doug Lucie earned his reputation through his astute observation of his peer groups and his ability to portray in identifiable fashion his perspective on his generation through his dramas. We Love You, for instance, deals with adolescent rebel pomposity; Heroes with six undergraduates sharing an Oxford house; and Progress, a play rife with irony, with marriage, sexual politics, and careers. Lucie often employs the "comedy of manners" format, which depicts and often satirizes social situations, although Lucie does not consider his plays satirical and contends he has never deliberately sat down to write satire. As a contributor for Contemporary Dramatists wrote of Lucie: "He has captured the social mores and hypocrisies of a particular social strata, both in the university and beyond, and pilloried us on stage for our general amusement and embarrassed recognition."
While his presentations might amuse audiences, Lucie takes his themes seriously. He told Sara Hemming of the New Statesman that while critics have characterized several of his works as "the wailings of some out-of-date, out-of-time, old-style leftie," his plays address what is wrong, not what is right, and he feels perfectly justified in this somewhat negative focus. "The social and political agenda in this country is run by a very small number of people, very powerful, with huge outlets for their views," Lucie added. "I will carry on trying to convince people that that's what is happening—and the only place you can do that is in the theatre."
Some critics have accused Lucie of lacking subtlety; his characters are often paired in predictable combinations, and his sympathies consistently attend the underdog or outsider, regardless of personal character. However, as Matt Wolf noted in Variety, Lucie has built an "impressive career in plays like The Shallow End by skewering the mores and pretensions of the England he sees around him." Dubbing the work "two hours of mean-spirited fun," Richard Corliss noted of Lucie's play Progress in a Time magazine review that it fulfills the "traditional virtues of British theater—familiar characters, sardonic raillery, a fiercely political point of view."
Lucie's aggressively critical stance, while sometimes criticized, has also been anticipated by critics, and any deviation has caused concern. Reviewing Love You, Too, which spans two British general elections, Lucie turns his observations inward to the self. In reviewing the play, Hemming commented that, "Given that this is the same playwright who in the 1980s wrote Fashion, a blistering piece about admen squabbling over the Tory party account; that, in his last play, he took a hatchet to the world of journalism . . . one might anticipate a somewhat skeptical account of the emergence of new Labour. But in fact, Love You, Too is not political; or not overtly so." Sheridan Morely was disappointed with this shift in the playwright's presentation, and commented: "Lucie seems curiously unable or unwilling to deal with the new political watersheds, contenting himself instead with two interchangeable couples who . . . find themselves fatally unable to live either together or apart. . . . [The play] is also, in its last act, one of the most stunningly anti-female plays of recent times."
Regarding the future role of British theatre, Lucie told Hemming: "We've gone from being a robust democracy to being a supine, authoritarian, middle-class pseudo-democracy. . . . There is a big quandary at the moment about where theatre is going and what it is for. Theatre is going to become, and going to have to become, the new journalism. It is going to have to go into the territory and ask the questions that the majority of newspapers no longer enter or ask, and it is going to have to talk about people who are excluded. You're not going to get that on television or film unless you smother it in other things."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Dramatists, sixth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Guardian (Manchester, England), June 2, 1998, Michael Billington, review of Love You, Too, p. 2.
Nation, March 19, 1990, Thomas M. Disch, review of Progress, p. 394.
New Statesman, February 21, 1997, Michael Bywater, review of The Shallow End, p. 39; May 29, 1998, Sarah Hemming, review of Love You, Too, p. 44.
Spectator, June 20, 1998, Sheridan Morley, review of Love You, Too, p. 38; March 1, 2003, Toby Young, review of The Green Man, p. 62.
Time, August 13, 1984, Richard Corliss, review of Progress, p. 95.
Variety, June 8, 1998, Matt Wolf, review of Love You,Too, p. 82.*