The Clink

by Stephen Jeffreys

The Play


The Critics

For a whole range of reasons, The Clink is a hybrid play. It was written in 1990 but is set in 1603, and its language veers from proper Elizabethan blank verse to modern slang, often in the speech of one character and in a single scene. This makes it sometimes difficult to understand (and to speak), but hearing Jeffreys' language has its rewards. He almost never produces mere parody but takes Elizabethan language to go where no Elizabethan has gone before, and the result can be funny and dignified at the same time.

But there is more to The Clink than just an experiment with language. It is a play set in one of the watershed years of English history, the year the Elizabethan Era ended and the Jacobean Age began. Discontent was in the air, the slow descent to the English Civil War had begun. The exhilaration of discovery in America and elsewhere gave way to colonial exploitation. The Sonnet Cycle, that most Elizabethan of genres disappeared the Jacobeans had revenge tragedies instead. A sense of ending and uncertainty pervades the entire play: the old order disappears, but nobody is quite sure what will appear in its place. And in the middle of this turmoil a poor fool thinks he can get away with aggressive comedy...

The Author

Stephen Jeffreys, a co-founder of the Pocket Theatre Cumbria, had his first play produced in 1973. From 1987 to 1989 he was writer-in-residence with Paines Plough, the touring company which premiered The Clink in 1990 at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth.