Cover art by Zoe Nelson


Richard Nelson
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The Left is personified in Richard Nelson’s idealistic and intellectual characters, whose fascinating friendships are as fraught as the political history through which they’ve lived.

Production Info

Cast: 8 total (4 female, 4 male)
Full Length Drama (about 100 minutes)
Multiple Sets
Contemporary Costumes

Press Quotes

“You can’t watch [LEFT] without thinking about Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, and Diana Trilling. Richard Nelson … hasn’t brought the famous, undignified Hellman/McCarthy/Trilling feud directly onstage, but he invokes their noisy ghosts. They resonate. It’s uncanny. Imagine I’M NOT RAPPAPORT with Simon Gray’s wit and Doris Lessing’s brains. We first meet Marianne, a retired college president, and Eddie, who writes essays on pornography for The New York Review of Books, in the Adirondacks. They are waiting for Elinor, an editor at a Manhattan publishing house, to arrive by motorboat and explain her memoir. In her memoir, Elinor savages her oldest friend, Marianne, as typical of a whole class of I’m-all-right-Jack Upper West side intellectuals who betrayed their youthful idealism in the dreary Cold War years. Eddie, an ex-husband as well as an ex-radical, has been deleted, even from Elinor’s index. From the beginning of their ménage à trois, Eddie has always been the odd man out. [LEFT] is as much consumed by female friendship as it is by left history. Almost immediately, we flash back fifty years to their first visit to the Adirondacks, fresh from college politics in the middle of the Spanish Civil War, looking for money to start a magazine a lot like Partisan Review. We’ll go back and forth the rest of the play, until all six of them, the pure of heart and their revised editions, are in the same room, at the same time, a crowd of regrets. These people talk about Joseph Stalin and the Sierra Club, Amnesty International and Saran Wrap, South Africa and skinny-dipping. What they’re really talking about is friendship in history. If the person is political, how much so, at what cost and is there any forgiveness? I felt like a spy, switching sides so often in my sympathies.” —John Leonard, New York Magazine

About the Author


  • Richard Nelson

    Richard Nelson's plays include the four-play series, THE APPLE FAMILY (THAT HOPEY CHANGEY THING, SWEET AND SAD, SORRY, REGULAR SINGING (Nominated for Outstanding Play in Drama Desk Awards 2014; Public Theater, 2010 – 2013), NIKOLAI AND THE OTHERS (Lincoln Center Theater, 2013), FAREWELL TO THE THEATRE (Hampstead Theatre, 2012), HOW SHAKESPEARE WON THE WEST, (Huntington Theater, 2008), CONVERSATIONS AT TUSCULUM (Public Theater, 2008), FRANK'S HOME (Goodman Chicago, Playwrights Horizons, 2007), RODNEY'S WIFE (Playwrights Horizons, 2004), WHERE I COME FROM (National Theatre Connections), MADAME MELVILLE (which ran in the West End starring Macaulay Culkin and Irene Jacob and opened in May 2001 Off-Broadway); GOODNIGHT CHILDREN EVERYWHERE (winner of Olivier Award for Best New Play, 2000), KENNETH'S FIRST PLAY (with Colin Chambers, RSC), THE GENERAL FROM AMERICA (at the RSC and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York), NEW ENGLAND (RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), MISHA'S PARTY (with Alexander Gelman, RSC and Williamstown Theater Festival), TWO SHAKESPEAREAN ACTORS (Tony nomination for Best Play, RSC and Broadway), COLUMBUS AND THE DISCOVERY OF JAPAN (RSC Barbican), SOME AMERICANS ABROAD (Olivier nomination, Best Comedy; RSC, Lincoln Center and Broadway), LEFT, BETWEEN EAST AND WEST (Hampstead), PRINCIPIA SCRIPTORAE (winner of Time Out Award, RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), THE RETURN OF PINOCCHIO, AN AMERICAN COMEDY, BAL, CONJURING AN EVENT, RIP VAN WINKLE, JUNGLE COUP, THE KILLING OF YABLONSKI, THE VIENNA NOTES (Obie Award). His musicals include JAMES JOYCE'S THE DEAD (starring Christopher Walken and Blair Brown; Playwrights Horizons, Belasco Theatre, Broadway, Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, Kennedy Center, Washington; for which he received a Tony Award in 2000 for Best Musical Book), CHESS (the book for the Broadway musical), PARADISE FOUND (dir: Harold Prince and Susan Strohman), MY LIFE WITH ALBERTINE (with Ricky Ian Gordon; Playwrights Horizons), UNFINISHED PIECE FOR A PLAYER PIANO (with Peter Golub). His translations and adaptations include TYNAN starring Corin Redgrave (with Colin Chambers, RSC and West End), LOLITA with Brian Cox (National), Molnar's THE GUARDSMAN (Kennedy Center), Carriere's THE CONTROVERSY (Public Theater), Fo's ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST (Broadway), Strindberg's THE FATHER with Frank Langella (Broadway) and MISS JULIE (Yale Rep), Beaumarchais' THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (the Guthrie and Broadway); Molière's DON JUAN, Ibsen's WILD DUCK and ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, Pirandello's ENRICO IV, Goldoni's IL CAMPIELLO, Erdmann's THE SUICIDE. With the esteemed translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, he was co-translated Chekhov's THE CHERRY ORCHARD, Gogol's THE INSPECTOR, Turgenev's A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY and Bulgakov's DON QUIXOTE. Films: Hyde Park on Hudson, staring Bill Murray and Laura Linney (Dir: Roger Michell), Ethan Frome, starring Liam Neeson (Dir: John Madden); Sensibility and Sense, staring Elaine Stritch and Jean Simmons (Dir: David Jones). Television: The End of a Sentence with Edward Herrmann (Dir: David Jones). Radio Plays include: HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, LANGUAGES SPOKEN HERE (Giles Cooper Award), EATING WORDS (Giles Cooper Award), ADVICE TO EASTERN EUROPE, AN AMERICAN WIFE (all BBC).

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 8/1/2006
Pages 80
ISBN 9780881452860

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced by New York Stage and Film

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
Left is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC