The Wesker Trilogy

  • by Arnold Wesker
    Directed by John Dexter

    First performance: 7th June 1960




  • The Characters In The Wesker Trilogy

    Sarah Kahn . . . . . . . . Kathleen Michael
    Harry Kahn, her husband . . . . . . . . Frank Finlay
    Monty Blatt . . . . . . . . Alan Howard
    Dave Simmonds . . . . . . . . Mark Eden
    Prince Silver. . . . . . . . Charles Kay
    Hymie Kossof, Sarah's Brother. . . . . . . . John Colin
    Cissie, Harry's Sister, a trade-union organiser . . . . . . . . Cherry Morris
    Ada Kahn, daughter of Sarah and Harry . . . . . . . . Ruth Meyers
    Ronnie Kahn, son of Sarah and Harry . . . . . . . . David Saire
    Bessie Blatt, wife of Monty . . . . . . . . Patsy Byrne
    Beatie Bryant, a friend of Ronnie ... Joan Plowright
    Jenny Beales, her sister . . . . . . . . Patsy Byrne
    Jimmy Beales, her brother-in-law . . . . . . . . Charles Kay .
    Mrs. Bryant, her mother . . . . . . . . Gwen Nelson
    Mr. Bryant, her father . . . . . . . . John Colin
    Frank Bryant, Her Brother . . . . . . . . Alan Howard
    Pearl Bryant, her sister-in-law . . . . . . . . Cherry Morris
    Stan Mann, a neighbour of the Beales . . . . . . . . Frank Finlay
    Mr. Healey, a manager at the farm . . . . . . . . Anthony Hall
    Sammy, Dave Simmonds' apprentice . . . . . . . . Terry Palmer
    Esther, Harry's sister . . . . . . . . Jessie Robins
    1st Removal Man. . . . . . . . Alan Howard
    2nd Removal Man . . . . . . . . Charles Kay
    Colonel Dewhurst . . . . . . . . John Colin
    Dobson . . . . . . . . Frank Finlay
    Daniel Simmonds. . . . . . . . Michael Phillips

    Chicken Soup with Barley was first performed at The Belgrade Coventry on the 7th of July 1957 and the following week at The Royal Court. Wesker had planned that it would be the first in a trilogy of plays. The second play Roots was also performed first at The Belgrade and then at The Court. In 1960 with I'm Talking About Jerusalem all three were performed at The Court as The Wesker Trilogy



  • A number of themes bind the trilogy together. Basically it is a family; on another level it is a play about human relationships ; and on a third, and most important level, it is a story of people moved by political ideas in a particular social time.

    There are many theories about Socialism. CHICKEN SOUP WITH BARLEY handles the Communist aspect. ROOTS handles the personal aspect, that is, Ronnie ( one of the characters) feels you can only teach by example. l'M TALKING ABOUT JERUSALEM is a sort of study in a William Morris kind of Socialism. If you like, the three plays are three aspects of Socialism, played out through the lives of a Jewish family. These are not true life stories. They are distillations.

    CHICKEN SOUP WITH BARLEY is about the family, Sarah, Harry, Ada and Ronnie. ROOTS is about Ronnie through Beatie Bryant, though he is never seen. l'M TALKING ABOUT JERUSALEM is about Ada and her husband Dave.

    My people are not caricatures, they are real ( though fiction). And though the picture I have drawn of them is a harsh one, yet still my tone is not of disgust. I am at one with these people - it is only that I am annoyed with them and myself.

    Arnold Wesker

    "The theme is a vast one and Mr Wesker is splendidly equipped to handle it. Like many Jewish writers, he thinks internationally, yet feels domestically; and it is this combination of attributes that enables him to bring gigantic events and ordinary people into the same sharp focus"

    Kenneth Tynan, The Observer