Plays published by New Theatre Publications (to 02/11): > authors B > Michael Barry

NTP Contact page gives UK and US offices.

Other plays via and contact details below.

The Counting House, Dodington, Bridgwater, Somerset TA5 1LE, UK

01278 733100/ 07906 364189

“This fine new adaptation by Artistic Director, Michael Barry, was faithful, hilarious, full of character, rich dialogue and action".

"… in the vanguard for originality in this imaginative adaptation... It held avid attention from a full house".

“Last word must go to playwright and director Michael Barry for a wonderful piece of story telling.”

Download brochure (double-sided 3-fold A4 as pdf file).

NB Code below:

** = professional production

* = amateur production

(*) = scratch night/ development performances

Plays Published by New Theatre Publications

   ( > Authors B > Michael Barry – OR use title links – to get free download reading copies of each play)

Love Letters **

(from the story "On The Western Circuit" by Thomas Hardy)

Edith Harnham’s young protege, beautiful, uneducated Anna is training to be a domestic servant.

One evening, she succumbs to a handsome lawyer briefly in town touring the Western Circuit. Charles is totally captivated although she’s quite unsuitable for a professional man's wife.

Anna, who is only just learning to write, persuades Edith to write her love letters to Charles but Edith with mistaken judgement improves them, and soon Charles' soul is captivated too.

With Anna in the family way, these letters can only lead to tragic disaster for the true lovers, Edith and Charles, in one of the most moving romantic tales ever written.

(3M, 2F  Doubling enables 2M, 2F. Composite set)

Tess of the D’Urbervilles **

(edited version of T Hardy’s dramatisation)

The heart-rending tale of pure, innocent Tess, driven to the extremes of murder by Angel and Alec, the two very different men in her life, still has the ability to enthral audiences of all ages. Hardy's swingeing condemnation of the hypocritical mores of his age (1890s), which declared that a mere slip of a girl, seduced, indeed overcome while asleep by an experienced man of the world, is a "fallen woman" beyond the pale of society, is as powerful today as it was a hundred years ago.

This is the first republication of Hardy’s own second dramatisation of his famous novel for many decades. It has been edited for modern performance by Michael Barry, the play’s only director (twice) since Hardy himself.

(7M, 6F. Doubling enables 3M, 4F. Composite set)

Tom Jones **

(from the novel by Henry Fielding)

A great love story complicated by the fact that women cannot keep their hands off the irresistible “base born” young hero and that the twists and turns of the fast-moving plot seem hell-bent on dooming him to twist and turn on Tyburn's infamous gallows!

Now "one of the great comic novels in the English language", but at the time outrage was so great that Dr Johnson declared "I scarcely know a more corrupt work". Only a year later, "Fanny Hill" joined it on the best-seller lists of the times!

This tried and tested adaptation is above all faithful to the raunchy original! The press loved it: “packed with passion and innuendo." and " more double entendres than an explosion in a Carry On film factory", amongst many similar responses.

(Cast: 6M, 6F. Doubling enables 3M, 3F. Composite set)

Passion and the Revolutionary **

(from the story “A Committee-man of the Terror” by Thomas Hardy)

An intense and intimate love affair that faces insuperable obstacles. Set in Weymouth during the brief peace with France in the very early 1800s. Will the passionate lovers overcome these obstacles and find happiness together? Hardy himself is one of the characters, manipulating the other two in his search for the perfect story.

(A one-act drama for a cast of 3 (2M, 1F). Composite set)


Burning Passions **

(Original - with songs and lyrics by Marck Pearlstone)

Just days after marrying simple Jane Shorney, popular young charcoal-burner John Walford clubbed her to death in despair. In love with another woman, intense frustration and a passionate nature saw him condemned to hang by a judge who wept openly at his tragedy. His body was left swinging from a gibbet in a cage for a year afterwards.

This true 1789 Somerset story of a crime of passion lives on in folk memory today: it appalled Wordsworth and Coleridge, Walford’s Gibbet is still on the map, and audiences for the play’s first production were deeply affected by this re-enactment – which is also strong on music (one singer, one guitarist) and humour.

(Cast: 7M, 4F, 1 boy + 3. Doubling enables 4M, 2F, 1 boy. Comp. set)

The Indiscretion of an Heiress **

(from the story of similar name by Thomas Hardy)

Tragic young love across class divide – leading to a marriage that social norms will never accept.

Thomas Hardy uses two young actors to shape his story to his liking, guiding his two characters as they live through their heart-breaking relationship plagued by so many tribulations.

(2M, 1F. Composite set)

The Warden **

A full-length play by Michael Barry – (from the novel by Anthony Trollope)

A delightfully-written and witty tragi-comedy of human aspirations and flaws, a delicate and subtle tale that tells of one man's traumatic fight between his church and his conscience - and one girl's romance in the midst of parsons and power struggles. This is the first of Trollope's superb set of six Barchester Chronicles, and was seen on TV some years ago to huge acclaim with Donald Pleasance in the title role.

With an economic and effective blend of narration and dramatization "The Warden" combines both an entertaining story and an emotional experience.

(Adapted for a cast of three, 2M 1F -  full cast, 10M, 2F)

Download brochure (double-sided 3-fold A4 as pdf file).

THE STAGE PLAYS COMPLETE (inc as yet unpublished) 

These plays are available now for reading and producing. The link will take you directly or via an NTP page to a downloadable pdf file – for reading only. For as yet unpublished plays, the link will also give more details.


Burning Passions **-  (above) original story of an famous and tragic Somerset murder (1789).

Love Letters ** -  (above) immensely successful adaptation of Thomas Hardy romance. 

Tess of the D'Urbervilles ** - (above) edited for production version of Thomas Hardy's own second adaptation of his famous novel. M Barry sole director of this play since Hardy's 1928 death (twice).

Tom Jones ** -  (above) epic and raunchy adaptation of Fielding's racy Somerset novel.

The Balance of Mind (*) – a London nurse recovering from romantic betrayal finds herself suddenly involved in agri-politics, a livestock crisis and primitive mysticism.

The Warden ** -  adaptation of Anthony Trollope's opening story in the Barchester Chronicles. Cast of 3, simple setting, narrated links.

The Indiscretion of an Heiress ** -  Hardy short-story of tragic young love. Cast of 3, simple setting, narrated links.

The Tay Bridge Disaster ** -  dramatised documentary, originally produced at Dundee Rep in 1968, published (now out of print), nominated for STV Theatre Play of the Year.

A Question of Balance -  play examining three-way relationship and the imperatives that make it viable. Has four endings (one can be selected by author or by audience).

One-act plays:

Passion and the Revolutionary ** -  (above) half-hour adaptation of Hardy love story.

A Love Beyond Time * -  inspired by John Wyndham time travel romance. Small cast, single set. (Edinburgh University production 1963, 2nd prize - Scotsman Best Student Play Award). Now extensively rewritten.

The following plays are edited or compiled from public domain sources. In some cases the script isn’t immediately available for reading but it should be possible to email it to you within a few days. If interested, please contact me and let me assess situation. Licence fee would be lower than for above plays.

Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare) and The Atheist's Tragedy (Tourneur) -  two one-hour adaptations of these famously gory revenge tragedies.

Tony & Cleo – compact 1930s version of Shakespeare’s greatest love story. Cast of 6 and upwards.

A Woman for All Seasons * -  compilation for small group of women of famous scenes from classical drama, linked by narrative. Amateur production 1989. N/A for purchase or reading due to commercial rights problems. Running order available free for educational establishments.

From Ten to Twenty * -  compilation for teenagers of famous scenes from classical drama, linked by narrative. Drama College production 1976. N/A for purchase or reading due to commercial rights problems. Running order available free for educational establishments.

O McGonagall ** -  humourous small-scale touring production showing life of Dundee's famously bad poet interspersed with declarations from his works. Toured from Dundee Rep 1970.

Christmas Through the Ages ** - a pot-pourri of Christmas readings from mediaeval times to modern days, embracing the secular as well as the religious. Wessex Actors Company tours. (Some rights issues may need discussion)

Contact me at: 01278 733100/ 07906 364189

Download brochure (double-sided 3-fold A4 as pdf file).

Fuller play details:


A full-length play by Michael Barry

From the novel by Anthony Trollope

Cast: (Adapted for a cast of three, 2M 1F. Full cast: 10M, 2F)

Rev Septimus Harding, Precentor and Warden (60ish)

Susan Harding, his elder daughter (34)

Dr Theophilus Grantly, Archdeacon, her husband

Eleanor Harding, his younger daughter (24)

John Bold, Surgeon and Reformer

Bishop, Dr Grantly’s father

Bunce, lead Bedesman

Abel Handy, Bedesman

Job Skulpit , Bedesman

William Gazy, Bedesman

Jonathan Crumple, Bedesman

Sir Abraham Haphazard, Attorney-General

The play was constructed to be performed by a cast of 3:

M1       Harding, Handy

M2       Grantly, Bold, Bishop, Skulpit, Bunce, Sir Abraham

F          Susan, Eleanor, Gazy,  Crumple

Dr Septimus Harding is a minor canon, the Precentor at Barchester Cathedral and the Warden of Hiram’s Hospital in Barchester, a charitable home for destitute bedesmen. Since the hospital was founded, its Trust fund has grown enormously in value. However the bedesmen still get their 1/6d per day as originally specified. The rest, a princely £800 a year, is paid to the Warden by his friend the Bishop and his son-in-law, the Archdeacon.

Radicals are now challenging this state of affairs and causing uneasiness in the innocent soul of Dr Harding. The massive powers of the press and the reform movement are being pitted against the equally formidable powers of the Church of England.

Stuck in the middle of the battle-field is the meek, sensitive, cello-playing victim of circumstances, who would give anything for a quiet life and an easy conscience.

"The Warden" is a delightfully-written and witty tragi-comedy of human aspirations and flaws, a delicate and subtle tale that tells of one man's traumatic fight between his church and his conscience - and one girl's romance in the midst of parsons and power struggles. This is the first of Trollope's superb set of six Barchester Chronicles, and was seen on TV some years ago to huge acclaim with Donald Pleasance in the title role.

With an economic and effective blend of narration and dramatization "The Warden" combines both an entertaining story and an emotional experience.

"The Warden":

"Thanks for the superb performance at Warminster Library. We're still receiving many very complimentary comments about it and with good reason, as such a high degree of professionalism was exhibited. How talented they are!

Warminster Librarian.

"The magic began - under the sure direction of Michael Barry. It takes an unusual ability to transport an audience to another age and ambience without the benefit of the usual theatrical mechanics, and the Wessex Actors Company has this ability to a high degree".

Warminster Journal

"An appreciative audience enjoyed a lively dramatization. Members of the Company combined mind-numbing feats of memory with lightning changes of character. Library staff and users look forward to future productions by this talented company".

Taunton Librarian.

Download reading copy

Latest original play seeks premiere: The Balance of Mind

The Balance of Mind (*)

A full-length play by

Michael Barry

Cast:: (3M, 3F. Composite set)

ELISE – 30s, london nurse, intelligent, energetic, lean, edgy

kath williams – late 50s-early 60s, farmer’s wife, sturdy, worn-down

jack williams – farmer, 60s, angry, depressed, hard-working, worn down

tom – 40s, vet with DEFRA, easy-going, rational

chas – late teens, farm lad, big, strong, abundant energy

OLD WOMAN – old style, country dweller, astute but simple, no doubts

Elise, a London nurse, who is both activist and poet, takes a break in a West Country holiday chalet - time out to recover from a misbehaving partner. She finds herself thrown head-first into the soul-destroying world of agri-politics – a world of livestock crises, heavy-handed bureaucracy, a farmer’s suicide – another farm likely to close.

Jack Williams, the farmer, weighed down by the far too common pressures on farmers, is converting to arable from dairy farming and is trying to clear an old standing stone in one of his fields to make this possible. It’s obstructing the way to diversification, to saving a long-run family business. But for Elise, it’s a real and magical source of positive and life-giving energy and peace. It's an ancient, holy site – and Elise immediately responds to it totally.

Kath, a stolid farmer's wife instinctively dislikes this emotional city girl, but suffers her as a holiday guest – a critical new direction for the farm business. However, Chas, the young farm lad, develops a major crush on her.

Then out of the blue - Jack commits suicide. Elise is not convinced that it is due to depression caused by Eurocracy, but instead caused by attempting to disturb the ancient site - one that might act as a focussed outlet for the earth's energies. She may not solve this question - but she comes to terms with her own problems - due perhaps to the influence of the stones. There are different routes for different people to stability, positive energy, a balance of mind.

When she leaves, Kath and Chas, each heart-broken in their separate ways, are left to pick up the pieces.

Download reading copy


A Documentary with Drama for the stage

A full-length play by Michael Barry

Cast: (originally staged by a company of twelve performers)

The Tay Bridge Disaster was an archetypal historical blunder of the first order – previously paralleled by the Charge of the Light Brigade, and, in more recent years, Aberfan.

Almost everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The whole episode was an incredible example of irresponsibility parading as delegated responsibility and dynamic buck-passing.

It is not so much one man who was to blame, but an accepted, tradional way of doing things – the sort of set-up that only gets improved after a major mistake. This is Historical Determinism.

“The Tay Bridge Disaster” was first produced in an earlier form by Dundee Rep in 1968. It was nominated for an STV Award for Best New Theatre Play in Scotland –and then published by Scottish Theatre Editions in 1971, (and is now out of print).

It was staged by a company of twelve performers, and directed by James Lovell, with live music by Alan Barty.

This script is a rewrite. Fluid, dynamic staging with an ensemble company is called for.

Download reading copy

A Love Beyond Time *

A romantic comedy – a one-act play by Michael Barry

Cast: (5M, 1F. Composite set)




Police Sergeant

2 History Lab assistants

When computer programmer Jamie finds a totally unknown but extremely attractive young woman at his door who bursts into tears because he doesn’t love her, he is a bit taken aback! When she explains she’s his great, great grand-niece and his heart-rending love letter was what persuaded her to take up history in the hope of sneaking a trip to the early 21st century in a history machine in order to have a passionate affaire with him, he is totally gob-smacked. But she is irresistible!

However the powers that be – or in fact will be, in the late 22nd century – don’t approve. She needs to be got home before she creates major anachronisms.

The first version of this script won second prize in a Scotsman Competition for Best Student Drama following its production in 1963. The play has been rewritten a few times since then. Loosely based on a time-travel idea by John Wyndham.

Download reading copy

The Indiscretion of an Heiress **

by Michael Barry

adapted from the novella by Thomas Hardy

Cast: (2M, 1F. Composite set)

Geraldine Allenville, Squire’s daughter (18, 23)

Edmund Mayne, village teacher, writer (21, 26)

Thomas Hardy, author (also portrays: Richard Broadford, Squire Allenville, shepherd, servants)

A tragic romance of passionate young love across the social divide. Thomas Hardy himself tells his story, guiding his two characters as they live through their heart-breaking relationship plagued by so many tribulations.

Edmund, village school-master, has serious literary ambitions. Geraldine is the beautiful and innocent daughter of the wealthy squire. When Edmund saves her from a dreadful death in the claws of a new steam-driven threshing-machine, their lives change forever. They slide irrevocably into the dangerous quicksands of first love, unaware of the unbridgeable class gulf lying between them. Decisive action to secure their happiness leads only to heart-rending disaster.

Download reading copy

A Question of Balance

A one act play with 4 (possible) endings by Michael Barry

Cast: (1M, 2F)

JOHN - about 25, regional newspaper journalist.

MAUREEN - about 20, teacher trainee doing teaching practice

ANN - about 21, university student.

A romantic triangle based on concept that one person alone can never fulfil another person fully – any monogamous relationship being a compromise based on traditional idea of “fidelity” (whether biological imperative or religious brain-washing). The three characters, whether they like it or not,  have four potential outcomes facing them.

Feedback to initial drafts of this play showed that everyone had different ideas as to how it should end. The one constant factor that emerged was a willingness to discuss the issues positively. Accordingly, rather than impose an artifical choice, as writer, on a situation that could clearly end in different ways, one of which would probably be selected in reality on the basis of very minor subtleties - I have preferred to provide all four of the most logical endings. The director and cast (or even the audience) should themselves select the ending they feel is most appropriate for them.

Download reading copy



"...splendidly stifling in its Victorian atmosphere of repression and hypocrisy… Entertaining, attractively presented and refreshingly welcome..."
Dorset Evening Echo

"Michael Barry has a strong track record for Thomas Hardy adaptations, and he has come up trumps again with this attractive version of one of the best-known short stories... The combination of his observant writing and Barry's sympathetic assimilation for the theatre makes this a pleasantly bitter-sweet experience... put across with affecting simplicity, but also considerable style."
The Stage

"An appreciative audience enjoyed a lively dramatization.".
Taunton Librarian.

"This professional, entertaining evening of raunchy 18th century comedy... This fine new adaptation by Artistic Director, Michael Barry, was faithful, hilarious, full of character, rich dialogue and action".
Dorchester Guardian

"Group's Passionate Performance. This version of Henry Fielding's book was packed with passion and innuendo".
Weston Mercury

"Sex, seduction, deception and hypocrisy - and that's all in the first five minutes. Michael Barry's version (has) more double entendres than an explosion in a Carry On film factory. It fairly bounces along".
Swindon Advertiser

"The Wessex Actors Company succeeded in captivating the audience with this skilful adaptation by MB who also directed."
The Stage

"Thank-you, thank-you. It was a wonderfully entertaining evening - we haven't laughed so much for ages, and we very much admire your amazing skills and dedication. Come back again soon".
Audience member, Wiltshire

"What a wonderful performance. We enjoyed every minute, word, swoon and flatulation of it. We are absolutely delighted".
Newton Tony Organizer

"We thoroughly enjoyed it. Excellent performances. The pace of the show was breath-taking. I hope it gets the acclaim it deserves".
Chair-person, Somerset Playwrights

"It was in all respects an impressive evening's entertainment, with a polish many well established groups might envy. One looks forward to future productions with keen anticipation."
The Warminster Journal

"The audience was treated to one of those rare evenings of theatre magic by a versatile, highly accomplished, self-contained team"
Somerset County Gazette

"Michael Barry has written a tight script that captures what life was like for many people living in rural areas 200 years ago."
The Quantock Messenger

"The subject matter is perfect for a dramatic retelling, the true story of John Walford, hanged 200 years ago for the murder of his simple wife at Nether Stowey in the Quantocks...(and) the writing does it justice. Powerful drama."
Fosse Way Magazine

"Thank-you for such a tremendous performance last night at Nether Stowey. Powerful stuff. Totally believable."

"The play was excellent - story, content and production. A very enjoyable evening."

"How much we enjoyed it... a grim but fascinating slice of rural life 200 years ago and ...a tale well told.... an entertaining evening. It was a pleasure to witness the ancient English tradition of the company of strolling players being so impressively continued into the 21st century."

"How much I enjoyed the play! It was a very memorable evening!"

"Your sensitive adaptation of Hardy's stories was faultless".
Audience member e-mails

"Thank-you for a really great evening of theatre"
Ilminster Warehouse Theatre

"How much we enjoyed ... such skilful producing and directing combined with very accomplished acting. We had a thoroughly interesting and absorbing evening."
Descendant of key friend of central character

"M.B's prologue...was a relaxed but lively peep behind the scenes"
Times Educational Supplement

"Mr B. has been diligent and painstaking in his historical research...The Rep and Mr B. are to be congratulated"
Dundee Courier

"This surprising blend gripped the attention"

"This is a new piece of theatre about a national calamity that merits national attention"
People's Journal

"Great. Hope they come back!"
Jute workers in D. Express

"It was a great performance and I enjoyed it tremendously.... You deserve all the positive publicity you can get because your company are great"
Local reviewer

This is a powerful and thought-provoking play and well acted by the cast.
Chard & Ilminster News

FOUNDING artistic director of The Wessex Actors Company, Michael Barry... recreating the characters and their lives convincingly for the stage in a powerful story inhabited by rounded characters.... sympathetically and truthfully told in stirring style…. Last word must go to playwnght and director Michael Barry for a wonderful piece of story telling.
Western Gazette


Portfolio of independent film, video and radio productions (drama) in development - available to interested sponsors, commissioners or co-producers.  All own scripts.

These include some 8 feature film, two TV serials, a major drama series, some one-off TV/radio drama projects, (status varies from complete scripts to treatments + sample script).

Inc. "Thomas Hardy's TWISTS OF FATE" (26 x 1 hr classic adaptations) – 1st series of 13 (+2) scripted (1st draft)

2008 – “The Balance of Mind” (stage and radio versions seeking production)

Produced work as writer incs:

1968 - researched, compiled, wrote "The Tay Bridge Disaster" – produced, published. Nominated for STV Award.

1976 - 2 episodes of "Garnock Way" (STV) commissioned.

1992 - dramatization of Max Beerbohm's "Zuleika Dobson" - BBC World Service "Play of the Week" (90 mins).

1997 - "Old Mrs Chundle" - 18' film based on short story of Thomas Hardy (Producer/ Director/ Writer).

2002 - Original play "Dead Woman's Ditch" (production and tour 2002). Now called “Burning Passions

Classic stage adaptations: "Tom Jones" ,"The Warden" (Trollope), "Love Letters", "Passion and the Revolutionary" and "The Indiscretion of an Heiress" (Hardy) for Wessex Actors Company (set up, ran 1993-2006). Also "O McGonagall". (All produced)

Compilations for stage inc: "From 10 to 20", "A Woman for all Seasons", "Christmas Through the Ages".

"Chronoclasm" performed and won a Scotsman Award at Edinburgh University (now “A Love Beyond Time”)

3 scripts dramatizing the procedures of Appeals Tribunals - produced by Edinburgh University

6 short stories: 5 broadcast by BBC Somerset Sound; some published in assorted publications.

Inclusion in Daily Telegraph Book of the Minisaga (200 selected out of 7000 entries)

Series of approx. 20 articles for various magazines on "Vinegrowing and Winemaking" (Book proposed).

Several articles, with own photos, published on photography.

Book proposed on film language and criticism for general movie audiences (Several chapters written)

Internet information publisher: ebook on “The Use of Masks in Drama and in Life”

Also Keep Your Health Information – several sites active and in development:

200 app writer/ researcher credits – STV features dept.

100 app producer/ director/ writer credits – corporate AV.

Separate CVs available as director and producer of stage and screen drama and factual programmes.

Download brochure (double-sided 3-fold A4 as pdf file).


Plays published by New Theatre Publications (to 08/10): > authors B > Michael Barry

NTP Contact page gives UK and US offices.

Other plays via this page and contact details below.

The Counting House, Dodington, Bridgwater, Somerset TA5 1LE, UK

01278 733100/ 07906 364189


(edited by Michael Barry)

1. June 2010

2. Oct 2010

3. Apr 2011

4. Aug 2011

5. Jan 2012

6.  Sept 2012