McIntyre, Clare

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Agent—c/o Author Mail, Nick Hern Books, The Glasshouse, 49a Goldhawk Road, London W12 8QP, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Actor, writer, and dramatist. Member, Nottingham Playhouse TIE Company, 1977-78, Women's Theatre Group, London, England, 1979-81, and Common Stock, London, 1981. Actor in plays, including Better a Live Pompey Than a Dead Cyril, 1980; The Elephant Man, 1982; The Importance of Being Earnest, 1985; and Bedroom Farce, 1987. Actor in films, including The Pirates of Penzance, 1983; Hotel du Lac, 1986; and A Fish Called Wanda, 1988. Actor on television, including Hotel du Lac, 1985; and Splitting Up, 1990.


Samuel Beckett Award, 1989, for Low Level Panic; Evening Standard Award, and London Drama Critics Award for Most Promising Playwright, both 1990, both for My Heart's a Suitcase.


(With Stephanie Nunn) Better a Live Pompey Than a Dead Cyril, adaptation of poems and writings of Stevie Smith, produced in London, England, by Women's Theatre Group, 1980.

I've Been Running, produced in London, England, at Old Red Lion, 1986.

Low Level Panic (produced in London, England, at Royal Court Theatre, 1988), published in First Run, edited by Kate Harwood, Nick Hern Books (London, England), 1989.

My Heart's a Suitcase (produced in London, England, at Royal Court Theatre, 1990), Nick Hern Books (London, England), 1990.

My Heart's a Suitcase [and] Low Level Panic, Nick Hern Books (London, England), 1994.

The Thickness of Skin (produced in London, England, at Royal Court Theatre, 1996), Nick Hern Books (London, England), 1996.

The Maths Tutor, produced in London, England, at Hampstead Theatre, 2003.

Also author of the radio play I've Been Running, 1990.


Clare McIntyre is one of the many women playwrights championed by the Women's Playhouse Trust and Max Stafford-Clark of London's Royal Court Theatre. Before becoming a full-time writer, McIntyre acted on stage and in film and television. Her first original play is I've Been Running, the story of a woman on a major health kick who keeps her anxieties at bay by continuous activity. This emphasis on women's worries and concerns permeates many of McIntyre's works. According to a contributor to Contemporary Dramatists, award-winners My Heart's a Suitcase and Low Level Panic "reveal [McIntyre's] uncanny ability to reflect the obsessions and anxieties of contemporary women."

In Low Level Panic, three women flat-mates struggle with their body images as they compare them to those of women depicted in advertising and pornography. As Jo soaks in the bath tub, she imagines herself as a slim and sexy model who attracts much attention in London's best cocktail bars. In reality, she sees herself as overweight and overtalkative, and her fantasy serves only to make her feel unattractive and undesirable. Mary's reality is shattered when she is raped on her way home from a party and she can no longer dress to look sexy without feeling she is asking to be raped again. After finding a pornographic magazine in a garbage can, she sees pornography as a legal permit for men to attack women. Celia's reality is little more than finding the right shade of eye shadow with the ultimate objective being to trap a man. The Contemporary Dramatists contributor commented that "the intimate dialogue about spots, herpes, and even unattractive clitorises is sharply observed and very amusing. But above all it is the confusion and naïveté of her characters that McIntyre captures so accurately." A critic writing on the Web site commented that McIntyre "provide[s] the audience with three very different female characters whose circumstances impact their lives in diverse ways. The absence of simplicity is perceptive, thoughtful and welcome."

My Heart's a Suitcase, set in the 1980s, finds thirty-year-old Chris highly hostile toward the world because of her dead-end job as a waitress. Articulate, educated, and middle-class, she appears crippled, either unable or unwilling to seek out greater opportunity, and she takes out her frustration by criticizing the world around her. Meanwhile, her friend Hannah is literally becoming crippled with multiple sclerosis. On a seaside vacation at Chris's rich ex-boyfriend's flat, the women encounter the ex-boyfriend's wife who does not have to work for a living and spends her time spending money. The Contemporary Dramatists contributor commented that "McIntyre, however, avoids drawing too neat a moral … [and] makes a rare attempt to present the rich complexities of female friendship onstage. She is a humorous, observant playwright with a deep understanding of the female psyche."

Lloyd Evans, reviewing the The Maths Tutor for the Spectator, said he was "staggered" when the play received praise from several reviewers. "What I saw was a humourless, preachy melodrama with flimsy characters, insipid dialogue and a story line whose lumbering parts seemed to compete with each other," he wrote. Paul and Jane, an almost unbelievably happily married couple, are granted custody of fifteen-year-old J. J., the unhappy son of Anna, a divorced, drinking, dishonest, real estate agent who unabashedly has affairs in front of her son. J. J. eventually accuses his maths tutor, Brian, of molestation, and the seemingly happily married Paul is exposed as Brian's lover. Philip Fisher commented on the British Theatre Guide Web site that McIntyre "manage[s] to show the moral dilemmas that her characters are forced to suffer" and that the play "explores a series of interesting contemporary issues."



Contemporary Dramatists, 6th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.


Spectator, April 13, 1996, Sheridan Morley, review of The Thickness of Skin, p. 48; October 18, 2003, Lloyd Evans, review of The Maths Tutor, p. 78.

Variety, October 19, 2003, Matt Wolf, review of The Maths Tutor, p. 36.


British Theatre Guide, (September 28, 2004), Philip Fisher, review of The Maths Tutor. Web site, (September 28, 2004), review of Low Level Panic.*

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