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One Million Tiny Plays About Britain [Hardcover]

Craig Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Mar 2009
A Wonder Woman and bride-to-be finds herself worse for wear at the end of a hen night; a funeral director's love of Manchester United proves unhelpful when talking to the bereaved; two overly-vigilant mothers wrestle with their paranoia in the queue for Santa's Grotto; a widow recounts her disastrous return to the world of dating and a father realises that his son is growing away from him as he helps him tie his football boots. In these snippets of overheard conversations from across the length and breadth of the country, Craig Taylor captures the state we're in with humour and pathos and perfect timing. Laugh-out-loud funny, and sometimes heartbreakingly moving, these tiny plays in which every one of us could have a starring role are little windows into other people's lives that reveal the triumphs, disasters, prejudices, horrors and joys of twenty-first-century life. Hugely entertaining and utterly addictive, this is book that can be dipped into or feasted upon in one sitting. It will change the way you listen to the world around you, and train journeys will never be the same again.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074759791X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747597919
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 267,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


`Taylor captures those delicious moments when we catch morsels of other people's conversation and can't help but be momentarily drawn in ... Like the best comedy sketches ... Taylors plays are acutely observed, exquisitely crafted tragicomedies, rooted in bitter or absurd truths ... They take all of one minute to read, but will make you think for a great deal longer'
-- Sunday Telegraph

Book Description

Alan Bennett meets Ricky Gervais in these brilliantly observed, incredibly funny and sometimes poignant snapshots of life in Britain today. As featured in the Guardian Weekend magazine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and sometimes quite moving 7 Jun 2009
Actually 95 short (and in one case , just one sentence in length) little playlets set in various places around the UK and usually consisting of conversation between just 2 people.

The dialogue has the feel of conversations overheard in public places or in peoples' homes. The tone varies from mildly amusing to funny to sadder humour in the vein of Alan Bennett.

Overall I enjoyed the book, it's great for dipping into when you only have a few minutes to spare.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small is beautiful 7 Sep 2010
By turns laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreakingly poignant, Craig Taylor's collection of dramatic miniatures is an object lesson in how to tell stories without ever wasting a word. With formidable economy of style, Taylor takes us on a theatrical tour of Great Britain, from Richmond to Rotherham and from Louth to Leeds.

The pieces are truly tiny (some as short as a line or two) but deceptively so for in the small amount of space they occupy on the page they create vividly drawn characters and situations. Taylor's skill is in creating dialogue which has the quality of an overheard conversation and yet, on closer inspection, is beautifully structured.

This is a wonderful collection to dip in and out of: enormously enjoyable, often hilarious, always thought-provoking. A terrific read.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Like others, I first came across these tiny plays in the Guardian some years ago, well described in the introduction to the collecton as: 'dramatic haiku'. I thought then what an interesting challenge it might be for students of theatre and performance to try staging them.

With the author's permission I have just finished working with a number of the plays, over a seven week process of rehearsal and performance with 29 final year students at Aberystwyth University's Theatre Film and TV Department. Just I had imagined they were challenging and really fascinating texts to explore, and my students had a great time interpreting the ones we chose, developing the back-stories for the characters; writing other scenes of their own inspired by Taylor's wonderfully succint and witty style and weaving the fragments into a whole performance entitled:'Overheard'.

The audience response was warm and positive. Many told us how touched they were by the plays and like us, felt them to be incredibly 'tender' and poignant, whilst at the same time causing huge smiles and laughter. We have leaned much from these 'tiny plays' and I heartily recommend this collection to anyone who appreciates that edge between the comic and the tragic from which most of our lives are constituted.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tiny but perfectly formed 5 Aug 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
More accurately a series of short conversations - the clue was in the word 'million' - I hadn't realised that I had read the majority of them in the Guardian supplement, but I'm still glad I bought the book. If you're interested in the human condition, and especially in dialogue, this is great to dip into. Similarly, if you've exhausted Ronnie Barker and are looking for a sketch to do come the next family gathering, or Am' Dram's review, this would be a good source.
If you're looking for a Crime Thriller novel however, try this one:
The Cleansing
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soooooooooooooo Good 18 Mar 2009
By Jon
This was always the best part of the Guardian magazine and I have to say the collection of these Tiny Plays does not disappoint. They are funny and true and little bursts of charm which I have been dipping in and out of since I bought a copy. This is going to be my default gift of 2009.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very helpful teaching tool 23 Sep 2011
By S Dixon
As a drama teacher I have found this book to be a fantastic tool for exploring text, character and entering into wider debates with students about theatre generally and notions of 'britishness'. I recently directed a student production which was a great learning experience for the students since it meant that they could engage with a variety of roles and theatrical devices. I would highly recommend this book - a great collection which is funny, poignant and perfectly bite size.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A slice of life 5 Aug 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
All human life is here. People at bus stops, people in shops, people on public transport and in restaurants; people talking at cross purposes and people having arguments; angry people, happy people, sad people, disappointed people. All the little plays in this collection are very short as the title suggests but all portray a slice of life. Some are funny and some are sad and some quite chilling - the man talking to the animal rights campaigners is scary as are the two young men talking about stabbing someone.

You might hear the same sort of conversations in your daily life and the author has a gift for making them come alive so that you can imagine them actually taking place and almost hear the dialogue. I found this book compulsive reading and had to go on to the next one even though I kept thinking I'd save some for later. It is a good book to dip into because each play is complete in itself and would be an idea book to read during a daily commute.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Million Tiny Plays About Britain 28 July 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
These tiny plays, some merely a few words, consist of snippets of conversation which sum up all that is British - both good and bad. From a rather drunk woman declaring her love for a totally disinterested man, to a funeral director attempting to convince a woman that her son would rather be buried in Beckham's Man Utd shirt than the one she has chosen, this has our slightly cynical side to perfection. In other scenes there is our ability to ignore the obvious rather than face it, summed up with a woman refusing to admit that her son has a male lover. Others are very poignant, moving and some funny. My personal favourite was the two rubbish collectors, with one attempting to make up stories to make the time pass, to his colleagues despair and irritation! This is a very interesting collection of all that is great, and awful, about our country - but very relevant and extremely clever.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars great short plays
purchased for my kindle, great short plays, easy reading especially when travelling
Published 1 month ago by J R Lawman
4.0 out of 5 stars Random Pieces of Life
These are delightfully short playlets originally featured in standalone pieces in the Guardian newspaper. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. Ang
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Drama Teacher Tool
Brilliant essential text for Drama Teachers-plenty of ways to work the material, works especially well for Stanislavsky work and Year 10 GCSE Students exploration
Published 11 months ago by alan powell
4.0 out of 5 stars Great little plays for drama students
I purchased this book for use with students in an amateur theatre company. You can identify "real" people in all of the plays and they lend themselves well to working in... Read more
Published 14 months ago by K8
4.0 out of 5 stars A great laugh
Shame these were made up, because it would be a 5 star if some of them were really true, but you do hear this sort of thing going on around you on buses, trains, restaurants and in... Read more
Published 16 months ago by The Earl Of Kimberley
4.0 out of 5 stars I million plays
I love dipping in and out of this
Some are gritty, others meaningless (to me)
Not a waste of money though
Published 17 months ago by UV
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written and unusual book
I would not normally read this type of book and probably wouldn't again. Although I liked the clever writing, I normally read books that allow you to fully connect with the... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Roakes
4.0 out of 5 stars Wry and exquisitely funny dialogue
Sometimes poignant, these verbal exchanges from various quarters of life have something of us all in them. A guaranteed laugh.
Published 18 months ago by Alan Walton
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good observation pieces but...
Not a genre I'd usually go for, however after spotting this book in a sale I thought it would be a fun read to dip into. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Actually there is only 94 mini-plays....
Short enough but gets old really quick. Actually, I lie. It was never that new or interesting to begin with. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Elle
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