Crushed Shells and Mud


While I was writing the final piece for the playwriting submission, I wanted to read a play. I thought it could help me getting in the mind of a playwright, and I was also interested in reading some of Professor Musgrave’s work. When I started writing, I was reading a short stories collection by Anais Nin, Delta of Venus. So I left it for a while and started reading Crushed Shells and Mud by Ben Musgrave. The play premiered at Southwark Playhouse, London, in 2015, and was directed by Russell Bolan. I found it extremely interesting. I enjoyed it and I desperately wanted to see how it ended.

The most interesting element of this play is the fact that it is sets in our days, but a devastating epidemic is killing people in England. I like how this element, which could be extremely hard to manage, is crafted in the story. In fact, there are no “scientific” explanations, no references to what happened in the rest of the world. We only know that there is this epidemic that is very dangerous and people that have it are very much excluded from the community. There are some volunteers and people who want to help them – but then there are also people like Peter, the man who seems to be the chief of a pacific religious movement but is instead a violent extremist.

The story is set on the east coast of England, where this boy Derek lives. Then he meets Lydia, who seems to hide something – which is, in fact, that she is ill. Derek has a friend, Vince, who is the typical bully who suffered abuse from his father and has secretly a tender heart. I really liked the relationship between Vince and Derek and how Vince is always on the edge of going to the dark side, but at the end he stands with his friend agains Peter. I really liked the character of Lydia, who seems very sketchy at the beginning but is very strong and powerful especially at the end of the play.

I managed to see some pictures of the production and I found them very poetic. I would have liked to see this play staged because the scenographies seem very beautiful. The dialogue between the characters is very simple and very powerful at the same time, and at the end of the play I really couldn’t stop reading.



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