Walter Greenwood’s Plays (1934 – 1971)

This is a complete list of Greenwood’s performed and published plays, together with some concise further information, especially for the less well-known plays, and with cover images added wherever possible (all images scanned from copies in the author’s collection).

Love on the Dole (Ronald Gow & Walter Greenwood).

First performed at the Rushholme Theatre, Manchester, February 1934; first ‘provincial tour’, May 1934; Garrick Theatre, London, January 1935, transferred to Wintergarden Theatre, London, January 1936; first performed in the USA at the Shubert Theatre, New York, February 1936.

Published by Samuel French (French’s Acting Edition, no,184), London, 1934 (copyright renewed 1936, 1938).

Published by Samuel French (French’s Standard Library Edition), New York, 1934 (copyright renewed 1936).

Published by Jonathan Cape, London, 1935.

Published as Rêves Sans Provision (‘ Dreams without Means’ perhaps – French translation by Charlotte Neveu) in La Petite Illustration (No.827 – Théatre No. 418), 26 Juin 1937. This version was first performed at La Comedié des Champs-Élysées. Paris, March 1937.

Published as Hereford Plays edition, edited and with an Introduction by Ray Speakman (Heinemann Educational Books Ltd), London, 1986.

Adapted from Greenwood’s novel Love on the Dole (Jonathan Cape, 1933).

[Sources: the published editions]

Below is the Jonathan Cape front dust-wrapper. The ‘New Play Series’ was clearly aimed at readers interested in socially-conscious drama and shows that Cape saw Gow and Greenwood’s play as being part of a body of international work addressing issues of social justice. Though the front dust-wrapper used the Cape brand to catch the reader’s eye, rather than any pictorial matter, the rear dust-wrapper packed in a remarkable amount of textual testimony about the autobiographical experience underpinning Greenwood’s writing, and about the reception of the novel. It also found room for a small version of part of the novel’s dust-wrapper design (though with the red circle replaced with a blue one).

The French translation was published after performance in a periodical which printed the complete texts of important contemporary works. It was published as a play by Ronald Gow ‘d’apres Le Roman De Walter Greenwood’, which I do not think quite captures the degree of collaboration on the play (p.1). Charlotte Neveu changed a few character names presumably to avoid English names difficult to say or with potential other meanings. thus Larry Smith becomes ‘Larry Smeath’, Sally Hardcastle becomes ‘Ketty Hardcastle’, and Harry Hardcastle becomes ‘Jimmy Hardcastle’. The cast list also introduces a non-speaking character not found in the English version(s) of the play – ‘le Jouer d’ukulele’ – however there is no further reference in the French text of the play to what business the character added – presumably some onstage music during a crowd scene? Could it possibly be a passing reference to George Formby’s association with Greenwood?

There is a substantial (circa 2000 word) after-word to the play by Robert Beauplan which gives the history of Love on the Dole so far, and explains that Paris audiences responded sympathetically but in quite diverse ways – some seeing the play as of ‘the extreme left’, others seeing it more as an emotional piece, and others as a work of very exact realism. Beauplan then helpfully provides extracts of reviews from some French thirteen papers and periodicals, all of which seem positive in their views. Beauplan (1882-1951) was the son of a well-known opera singer, Émilie Ambre, and wrote regularly for La Petite Illustration, but despite his work on contemporary literature in thirties Paris, he became a propagandist for the Vichy regime during the War and was consequently given a prison-sentence afterwards (see: Émilie Ambre – Wikipedia ).
Now out of print, this was a very useful edition, containing not only a version of the Cape text slightly revised with the advice of Ronald Gow himself, but also an acute and informative introduction, notes on the text, and some helpful suggestions for teaching the play in the classroom, all the additional material being written by the educationalist Ray Speakman.


Give Us This Day, Manchester Repertory Theatre, March 1936.

Adapted from Greenwood’s novel his Worship the Mayor (Jonathan Cape, 1934).

[Source: review, the Stage, 26/3/1936, p.10]


The Practised Hand (one act), Hulme Hippodrome, Manchester, July 1935.

Adapted from Greenwood’s short story ‘The Practised Hand’ in The Cleft Stick (Selwyn & Blount, 1937).

For an outline of the story see:

[Source: review, the Stage, 4/7/1935, p.7]


My Son’s My Son (‘An unrevised play by D.H. Lawrence completed by Walter Greenwood’ – programme p.5), The Playhouse, London, May 1936.

[Sources: programme; review, the Scotsman, 27/5/1936, p.12]


Only Mugs Work, Gaiety Theatre, Manchester, April 1939.

Adapted from Greenwood’s novel, Only Mugs Work (Hutchinson, 1938).

[Source: notice, Manchester Evening News, 8/4/1939, p.12]]


The Cure for Love: a Lancashire Comedy in Three Acts, first performed as The Rod of Iron, Oldham repertory Theatre, January 1945, then advertised as Sergeants’ Mess in the Stage, 8th March, 1945, p.6 (Parkwood Productions sought ‘Big Theatres – Once or Twice Nightly’) and then performed as The Cure for Love at the Westminster Theatre, London, July 1945.

Published by Samuel French (French’s Acting Edition No.2102), 1947.

This cover shows something of the play’s situation in that it is about a returning soldier towards the end of the War who has to choose between two women, but does not capture the dilemma that he finds it difficult to detach himself from his least favourite and attach himself to his now preferred alternative. In fact, it misrepresents Sergeant Jack Hardacre as highly sure of himself, when, despite being an Eight Army hero, he is very uncertain of himself back at home. However, the illustration is striking in its line-drawing and red/black colour blocks, and is the work of the interesting humorous illustrator Joyce Dennys – see

[Sources: published edition and The Stage]


So Brief the Spring, Oldham Repertory Theatre, October 1945.

Later adapted by Greenwood into his novel So Brief the Spring (Hutchinson, 1952).

[Source: Manchester Evening News, 25/9/1945, p.8].


Too Clever for Love, Morecambe Repertory Theatre, 1952 (first performed as Never a Dull Moment at the Oldham Repertory Theatre).

Published by Samuel French (French’s Acting edition, no.59), 1952.

As this cover image suggests, the play draws on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I have always felt this play about post-war skilled workers (perhaps mechanics rather than ‘mechanicals’), amateur drama, and the complexities of love, had a promising idea, but does not quite develop it sufficiently.

[Source: published edition]


Saturday Night at the Crown, Morcambe Repertory Theatre, June 1954; revised version first performed at the Oldham Repertory Theatre, May 1956; produced at the Garrick, London, September 1957.

Published by Samuel French French’s Acting Edition No, 349), 1958.

Later adapted into Greenwood’s novel, Saturday Night at the Crown (Hutchinson, 1959).

See some further discussion at:

Thora Hird as Ada Thorpe in the Oldham Coliseum production of Saturday Night at the Crown in 1956 (reproduced from the National Campaign for the Arts web-site in accordance with their terms for non-commercial use – see: Dame Thora Hird in Saturday Night at the Crown, Oldham Coliseum 1956 – National Campaign For The Arts).

[Source: published edition; edition of the novel]


Happy Days, Coliseum, Oldham, November, 1958; Grand Theatre, Blackpool, June 1959.

About a couple celebrating their silver wedding anniversary with friends at Blackpool. I have always assumed complications arise. The central role was designed for Thora Hird by Greenwood.

[Source: notice, Birmingham Daily Post, 19/6/1959, p. 9].


Fun and Games, Victoria Theatre, Salford, February 1963 (later performed as This is your Wife, Bradford Alhambra, August 1964).

Set among the male membership of a northern working-men’s club, who are (somewhat unexpectedly) planning an outing to Italy – but their wives are not happy about them going without them (hints about content from ‘Clubs are Trumps’, the Stage, 24/1/1963, p. 4).

[Source: the Stage, review, 7/2/1963, p. 4].


There Was A Time, first performed at Dundee Repertory Theatre, October 1967, then as Hanky Park, Mermaid Theatre, London, April, 1971.

Adapted from Greenwood’s memoir, There Was A Time (Jonathan Cape, 1967).

[Source: programme from the Mermaid Theatre production].