The Work: Plays

Break, My Heart

1997, (A one act play. 1w 1m)


A working-class couple - a carpenter and his wife.

MAEVE has outgrown her husband. She has discovered Shakespeare and poetry, which she learns by heart and recites to herself. MICHAEL is intimidated by her new persona. His impoverished swearing sharply contrasts with Shakespeare's language. MAEVE wants to find a job, get out of the house. MICHAEL's pride forbids her. "I don't want people to think I can't support my family."

Each time she uses what he considers a long word he beats her. After each act of violence he is filled with remorse and she has to comfort him.

The cycle of beating and remorse seems never-ending.


"Christ almighty! Who did I fucking marry? You weren't like this when I married you. You knew nothing when I married you. When we stood in front of that registrar you barely knew your mouth from your cunt and now they're both dry as them rows and rows of useless books there. Fucking Latin? Think you're cleverer than me do you? Cleverer? Cleverer? Fucking cleverer than me?"