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The Fourth Wall


About the Series

Routledge’s Fourth Wall books are short, accessible accounts of some of modern theatre’s best loved works. They take a subjective but easily digestible approach to their topics, allowing their authors the opportunity to explore their chosen subject in a way that is absorbing enough to be of use both to lovers of theatre and those who are being asked to study a play more deeply.

Each book in the series looks at a specific play, variously exploring its themes, contexts and characteristics while prioritising original, insightful writing over complexity or scholarly weight. While other cultural products such as albums and films are well served by this kind of writing, the Fourth Wall series aims to find room between rigorous analysis and the short format of reviews or articles. They are extended accounts that get to the heart of their chosen works without being bound by the density that academic treatments can often require.

Titles will be around 15,000-18,000 words, priced at £10 and made available in paperback and e-book format. Their audience will consist of:

- Theatregoers looking forward to a new production of an old favourite

- Teachers tackling the canon and looking for a fresh angle

- Undergraduate students looking for an accessible introduction to their set text

18 Series Titles

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Mitchell and Trask's Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Mitchell and Trask's Hedwig and the Angry Inch

1st Edition

Forthcoming

Caridad Svich
July 15, 2019

John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch opened on Valentine’s Day,1998, in New York City, and ever since it and its genderqueer heroine have captivated audiences around the world. As the first musical to feature a genderqueer protagonist as its lead, the show has had an...

Georg Büchner's Woyzeck

Georg Büchner's Woyzeck

1st Edition

Karoline Gritzner
February 08, 2019

'Everyone's an abyss. You get dizzy if you look down.' -- Woyzeck Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck was left unfinished at the time of its author’s death in 1837, but the play is now widely recognised as the first ‘modern’ drama in the history of European theatre. Its fragmentary form and critical...

Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables

Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables

1st Edition

Sarah Whitfield
July 16, 2018

"One more dawn! One more day! One day more!" Did Les Misérables make you miserable? Or did it inspire you? When Sarah Whitfield was a teenager, her Dad frequently embarrassed her with his love of this musical above all others. So, after he was diagnosed with late stage cancer, Whitfield set out to...

Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1st Edition

Michael Y. Bennett
July 11, 2018

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? shocked audiences and critics alike with its assault on decorum. At base though, the play is simply a love story: an examination of a long-wedded life, filled with the hopes, dreams, disappointments, and pain that accompany the passing of many years...

Sondheim and Wheeler's Sweeney Todd

Sondheim and Wheeler's Sweeney Todd

1st Edition

Aaron C. Thomas
March 20, 2018

Sweeney Todd, the gruesome tale of a murderous barber and his pastry chef accomplice, is unquestionably strange subject matter for the musical theatre – but eight Tony awards and enormous successes on Broadway and the West End testify to its enduring popularity with audiences. Written by Hugh...

Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis

Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis

1st Edition

Glenn D'Cruz
February 20, 2018

"Everything passes/Everything perishes/Everything palls" – 4.48 Psychosis How on earth do you award aesthetic points to a 75-minute suicide note? The question comes from a review of 4.48 Psychosis’ inaugural production, the year after Sarah Kane took her own life, but this book explores the...

Benjamin Britten and Montagu Slater's Peter Grimes

Benjamin Britten and Montagu Slater's Peter Grimes

1st Edition

Sam Kinchin-Smith
February 14, 2018

 ‘Who can turn skies back and begin again?’ -Peter   This book contends that Peter Grimes, widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential operas of the 20th century, is also one of the British theatre’s finest ‘lost’ plays. Seeking to liberate Britten and Slater’s work from the...

Alistair McDowall's Pomona

Alistair McDowall's Pomona

1st Edition

David Ian Rabey
December 12, 2017

‘It’s all real. All of it. Everything bad is real’ - Moe Alistair McDowall’s Pomona was first staged in 2014 and won properly startling, and startled, acclaim. Its edgeland setting permits a surrealistic disengagement of linear forms of time, which is both dreamlike and wildly funny; nightmarish...

Errol John's Moon on a Rainbow Shawl

Errol John's Moon on a Rainbow Shawl

1st Edition

Lynette Goddard
October 09, 2017

Errol John wrote Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (1958) after becoming disillusioned about the lack of good roles for black actors on the British theatre scene. While this situation has only slightly improved since, his response has become the most revived black play in Britain, from its original...

Sondheim and Lapine's Into the Woods

Sondheim and Lapine's Into the Woods

1st Edition

Olaf Jubin
August 21, 2017

‘The Woods are just Trees. The Trees are just Wood.’ – All together   In 1987, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine combined several classic fairy tales including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Jack and the Beanstalk to create Into the Woods. Funny and heartfelt, this musical explores what it...

Tim Crouch's An Oak Tree

Tim Crouch's An Oak Tree

1st Edition

Catherine Love
June 13, 2017

‘You will see no false nothing false tonight’ – the Hypnotist Tim Crouch’s second play collapses a tale of loss and grief into an exploration of theatrical representation, in a piece of theatre that is at once formally innovative and profoundly moving. Written for two actors, An Oak Tree depicts...

Davies and Penhall's Sunny Afternoon

Davies and Penhall's Sunny Afternoon

1st Edition

John Fleming
June 13, 2017

When ‘You Really Got Me’ exploded on Swinging London in 1964, the Kinks forever changed the course of rock ’n’ roll. Ray Davies and Joe Penhall’s Olivier Award-winning Sunny Afternoon (2014) covers the band’s formative years of 1964–7, when four working- class North London lads broke through to...

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