Barrie Keeffe Biography
(1945– ), Only a Game, A Sight of Glory, Scribes, Gimme Shelter, Abide with Me, Killing Time
British playwright, born in the East End of London, educated at East Ham Grammar School. He was an actor with the National Youth Theatre, and worked as a journalist while he was establishing himself as a dramatist. After Only a Game (1973), about a waning soccer star, he wrote A Sight of Glory (1975), about boxers in the East End, and Scribes (1976), about newspaper workers during a strike. His first substantial success, however, was Gimme Shelter (1975–7), a dramatic trilogy about deprived, frustrated, and alienated working-class youth. His other work, equally critical of British society, especially in its dealings with young people, has varied from the realistic Abide with Me (1976), Killing Time (1977), Sus (1982), Wild Justice (1990), and Not Fade Away (1990) to the musical play Bastard Angel (1980) and Chorus Girls (1981), in which the Prince of Wales is captured by a troupe of vaudeville performers and converted into a spokesman for the unemployed. In the same vein of scurrilously exuberant satire is his updated version of Middleton's A Mad World, My Masters (1977), in which East End criminals seek to compromise the sexually indiscreet industrialist whose conquests, in the revision Keeffe made in 1984, include the then Prime Minister. He has also written drama for television, notably the play Gotcha and the series No Excuses, as well as the screenplay of the film The Long Good Friday (1981).