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Stephen Poliakoff Biography

(1952– ), Clever Soldiers, Hitting Town, City Sugar, Shout Across the River, American Days, The Summer Party

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British dramatist, born in London, educated at Cambridge University. After achieving a modest success with Clever Soldiers (1974), about public schoolboys and Oxford undergraduates in somewhat confused conflict with a society that eventually leads them to the killing fields of the Great War, he produced a series of highly distinctive plays, wryly melancholy in tone. Typically, they involve contemporary urban culture in its concrete-and-plastic aspects and those making (usually vain) attempts to defy its encroachment. The more notable of these are Hitting Town (1975), City Sugar (1975), Shout Across the River (1978), American Days (1979), The Summer Party (1979), Favourite Nights (1981), and Siena Red (1992), pieces whose settings respectively include an underground car park, a local radio station, a recording studio, a five-storey pub-palace with a disco club in the basement, a pop concert, a particularly soulless London casino, and a large do-it-yourself store. Among his other works are Strawberry Fields (1977), about two young fascists on a terrorist mission in a characteristically charmless Britain; Breaking the Silence (1985), about an inventor escaping from the Bolsheviks after the revolution, and based on the experiences of Poliakoff's Russian-Jewish grandfather; Coming in To Land (1987), about a Polish woman's attempts to settle in Britain and, by inference, about the relationship of East and West; and Playing with Trains (1989), also about an inventor, but this time concentrating on his unsettled relationship with his British family. Poliakoff's television plays include Bloody Kids and Caught on a Train.

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