This is the first comprehensive play-by-play analysis of the drama of David Storey, one of the most acclaimed and innovative, sometimes controversial, writers in the British theatre since World War II. Grouping the plays according to theme, Hutchings demonstrates that the central focus in the drama of David Storey is the devaluation of traditional rituals in contemporary life and the disintegration of the family. A playwright attuned to the poetry in the ordinary, to the profundity, subtle eloquence, and dramatic tension in the mundane, Storey explores the ways people cope, or fail to cope, with complexity, with uncertainty, with constant, bewildering flux. He writes about groups—families (In Celebration, The Farm), rugby teams (The Changing Room), and construction crews (The Contractor). In his plays, individuals seek to overcome isolation and integrate themselves into a significant assemblage that transcends the self.
Hutchings notes that Storey frequently deals with working-class parents who cannot "understand their grown children’s anxieties, their discontentedness with life, their unstable marriages, and their inability to enjoy the benefits of the education and advantages they labored so hard for so many years to provide."
Storey understands and sympathizes with parents who have paid to educate their children out of their own spheres. He saw it happen in his own family, knew the disapproval of his father: "What else could my father think when, nearing sixty, he came home each day from the pit exhausted, shattered by fatigue, to find me—a young man ideally physically equipped to do the job which now left him totally prostrated—painting a picture of flowers, or writing a poem about a cloud. There was, and there is, no hope of reconciliation."
Hutchings supplements his thematic analysis of Storey’s plays by interweaving into his text 90 percent of a major interview with the playwright, the only such comprehensive interview in existence. Storey, who believes that readers "ought to be chary of all interviews," discusses alleged literary influences on his work, the current state of British theatre, and his reactions to critics. He also provides insight into various productions and performances in his work.