In an interview with the London Times, Birmingham-born Edgar relates the shock he felt when realizing that he hadn’t addressed Britain in his work since 1987’s That Summer, which concerned the widespread miners’ strike. His latest plays, a double-bill called Continental Divide — consisting of Mothers Against and Daughters of the Revolution — premiered in Oregon in spring 2003. Recalling the famous Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation of Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, which won him a Tony in 1982, it’s another two-parter which has received widespread acclaim (Time magazine called it the theatrical event of 2003). Mothers looks at America from the Republican point of view, depicting a Republican candidate’s preparations for a make-or-break TV debate, while Daughters focuses on a Democrat trying to track down the traitor who gave information to the FBI that crippled his career. Characters and dates overlap, a technique famously used several times by Edgar’s countryman Alan Ayckbourn, and he calls the project “a homage” to Ayckbourn.
With Continental Divide scheduled to run at the Birmingham Rep March 6-13, before transferring to London’s Barbican Theatre on March 20, its writer is already planning his next. He tells the newspaper that he is working on a play about the parts of the U.K. which, he says, its government has neglected, such as the countryside and the industrial North. After that, he says, he may write a piece about Tony Blair as tragic hero. "It’s a tragedy of honour," says Edgar. “Blair demonstrated that you could intervene on the right side in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and maybe Afghanistan. He believed in the Iraq War, too, but he was wrong, and now he’s stuck. He’s caught up in his own myth and he’s defining his rightness almost in terms of how many people oppose him. It’s all very Shakespearean and, yes, perhaps there’s a play there.”
For more information on Continental Divide in Birmingham, phone (0)121 236 4455, and in London call (0)845 120 7550.