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Blood on the Stage, 1950-1975

Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery, and Detection

Amnon Kabatchnik

In Blood on the Stage, 1950-1975: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery, and Detection: An Annotated Repertoire, author Amnon Kabatchnik continues the focus of his previous volumes (1900-1925 and 1925-1950) and provides an overview of the most important and memorable theatrical works of crime and detection of this period. Addressing the development of this genre in the legitimate theatre, Kabatchnik discusses more than 120 full-length plays produced between 1950 and 1975.

Arranged in chronological order, the productions cited are all works of enduring importance, pioneering contributions, singular innovations, and outstanding success. Many of the most notable playwrights of the era are represented, including Horton Foote, Bertolt Brecht, Arthur Miller, Frederick Knott, Joe Orton, Anthony Shaffer, Peter Shaffer, and Agatha Christie. Each of the plays featured revolves around murder, theft, chicanery, kidnapping, political intrigue, or espionage. Each entry includes a plot synopsis, production data, and the opinions of well known and respected critics and scholars.

The plays in this era include psychological thrillers and baffling whodunits, among them such memorable works as Anastasia, Dial 'M' for Murder, The Mousetrap, The Crucible, Witness for the Prosecution, The Desperate Hours, Sleuth, and Equus.
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Scarecrow Press
Pages: 704Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
978-0-8108-7783-2 • Hardback • April 2011 • $150.00 • (£100.00)
978-0-8108-7784-9 • eBook • April 2011 • $149.99 • (£100.00)
Amnon Kabatchnik, now retired, was a Professor of Theatre at SUNY Binghamton, Stanford University, Ohio State University, Florida State University, and Elmira College. He is the author of Blood on the Stage: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery and Detection, An Annotated Repertoire, 1900-1925 (2008), Sherlock Holmes: A Chronological Encyclopedia of Plays Featuring the Great Detective (2008), and Blood on the Stage, 1925-1950: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery and Detection (2009), all published by Scarecrow Press.

This third entry in the retired Stanford theater professor’s “Blood on the Stage” series is preceded by volumes on 1900–1925 and 1925–1950 (Scarecrow, 2008 and 2009, respectively). Not intended as an anthology, this is a chronological guide to notable plays from the period. Along with a plot synopsis, Kabatchnik gives a brief history of the play, including interesting circumstances of its creation, its critical reception, its later performances and film adaptations, and a biography of the playwright(s). His definition of “plays of crime, mystery, and detection” is surprisingly broad, listing obvious choices—mysteries such as Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap (1952) and courtroom dramas like Meyer Levin’s Compulsion (1957)—but also two adaptations of Dracula, musicals (Lionel Bart’s 1960 Oliver!), and “literary” works (Arthur Miller’s 1953 The Crucible). The book’s wide scope and context make it useful for research; its clear and straightforward writing engaging for casual perusal. The entries are concise enough to browse easily, and the variety offers up surprises that a simple Internet search might miss.

Library Journal

If your taste runs to seeing crime on stage, you won't want to miss Amnon Kabatchnik's Blood on the Stage, 1950-1975: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery and Detection....Thereare descriptions of 124 plays performed or published during that 25 year period — and what a Golden Era it was....For fans of crime writing and the theatre, this 683 page book could be the biggest and best bargain you're likely to find.

Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine

Mr. Katbachnik has given us a third volume in his excellent crime and mystery play series. A most enjoyable and eminently readable journey through the world of theater as relates to mysteries. A reference book not to be missed, it is a brilliant analytic gem which should be in reachable distance of every theater lovers' book shelf. Along with his other two volumes, it is a must own series for every library, public and private.
William Link, co-creator of Columbo and Murder She Wrote; Emmy and Edgar-Award Winning Writer and Co-Creator Of Columbo

The third volume of this monumental reference work lives up to the high standard of the first two. Defining crime and mystery as broadly as Otto Penzler (who considers a mystery any story involving a crime or the threat of a crime), Kabatchnik begins chronologically with the Damon Runyon-inspired musical Guys and Dolls, book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows in service of Frank Loesser’s music and lyrics, and finishes with Graham Greene’s The Return of A.J. Raffles with over a hundred other stops along the way....A typical entry, running from two or three to over ten pages, includes a synopsis (surprise solution included), critical response, production history, biographies of the playwright and (in the case of adaptations) author of the original work, availability of acting edition, awards and honors if any, and notes. Appendices on plays concerning poison, courtroom drama, death row, and children in peril span the whole 20th Century and repeat material from earlier volumes, while providing additional information and corrections. The 23-page index covers personal names and titles.

Mystery Scene Magazine

Blood on the Stage is a useful guide to plays of crime mystery and detection, throughout the years of 1950 to 1975. This hefty volume describes 129 plays or musicals that deal directly or indirectly with crime or mystery. Included are works of murder, theft, chicanery, kidnapping, political intrigue, and espionage. . . . There is no question that Blood on the Stage is a fun book to read and entertaining as well.
American Reference Books Annual

• Long-listed, Agatha Award Nominee (2011)