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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama


Simon Gray

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Title: Molly
Author: Simon Gray
Genre: Drama
Written: 1977
Length: 57 pages
Availability: Molly is currently out of print
  • Molly was first performed at the New Spoleto Festival in Charleston, and then in a "slightly re-written" production at the Watford Palace Theatre in 1977
  • Molly is an adaptation of Gray's earlier TV play, Death of a Teddy Bear
  • Molly -- like Terence Rattigan's Cause Célèbre -- is based on the actual murder of Francis Rattenbury involving Alma Victoria Rattenbury and George Percy Stoner

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Our Assessment:

B : fine character study

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Molly is based on the actual Rattenbury murder case. Gray has used different names, and not tried to merely dramatize that relatively well-known and notorious case, but he uses much of it as the foundation for his play.
       The play is set in the 1930s. Molly and Teddy Treadley have just moved to England from Canada. Molly is some thirty years younger than her husband. The marriage seems a fairly happy but not entirely satisfactory one. It is almost a father-daughter relationship.
       The household is kept by Eve, a sensible and concerned older woman, but Molly wishes also to hire someone to drive the car and do some of the gardening. Enter young Oliver, quickly hired on very generous terms.
       Molly and Oliver wind up becoming lovers: "I need my sex", Molly explains, and her husband isn't providing it.
       "You're the only adult in the house", Molly tells Eve, and it is true. Molly and Oliver are each in their own ways terribly immature, while Teddy has begun to behave with the childishness of old age. It is a house full of children, and the children, with their adult conflicts and no one to adequately control them, wind up making a mess of things. Leading to murder.
       Gray's play is a fine character study, the characters and their conflicts cleverly realized in this short space. They are frustrating figures, because of their childishness, but Gray doesn't portray them overly simplistically. Molly, in particular, offers some rich insights showing that there is more to her than what she usually suggests with her behaviour. She is more aware of what she is doing than she wants to let on. She recognizes, for example: "If we didn't lie to people we love and live with, we wouldn't be able to love and live with them."
       Eve and Teddy are also not simply one-dimensional, each shifting unexpectedly (though not always helpfully) and displaying more than expected. Only Oliver is perhaps not fully realized, pushed onto the scene with some additional baggage that is hinted at but only partially satisfactorily explained.
       The situation -- the constellation of these people -- is a hopeless one, and so it comes to a terrible end.

       Molly is a fine though not particularly remarkable entertainment -- well-paced, with Gray's usual clever and sharp (and often funny) dialogue.

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The Rattenbury murder case: Simon Gray: Other books by Simon Gray under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Drama under review

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About the Author:

       British author Simon Gray (1936-2008) wrote numerous plays, as well as works of fiction and non-fiction.

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