Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Morality Play by Barry Unsworth

Morality Play (original 1995; edition 1996)

by Barry Unsworth

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,011328,435 (3.77)191
Title:Morality Play
Authors:Barry Unsworth
Info:Penguin (1996), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Morality Play by Barry Unsworth (1995)

  1. 20
    Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Anonymous user)
  2. 10
    The Clerkenwell Tales by Peter Ackroyd (KayCliff)
  3. 00
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (pitjrw)
    pitjrw: Muses on memory and the role of art specifically drama set respectively in the alien past and the horrific near future.
  4. 00
    Medieval people by Eileen Power (KayCliff)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 191 mentions

English (31)  German (1)  All (32)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Set in 14th century wintry England, a troupe of players breaks tradition and puts on true life murder mystery play, endangering themselves and wreaking havoc in the town. This short novel is not a quick read, but worth the effort. Unsworth lets the story unfold at a measured pace but before you know it you're hooked. You forget if you are watching the play or in it. A must read for theater enthusiasts. I do wish the time/place had been more emphasized than it was. ( )
1 vote technodiabla | Jan 12, 2017 |
Not as deep as it thought it was; otherwise enjoyable. ( )
  elucubrare | Dec 29, 2016 |
Pacing is a little off, sometimes bone dry, perhaps a bit longish for what it is, and feels a tad incomplete, but interesting--roles within roles within roles within roles--and well done--the characters don't exhibit Medieval Caricature Syndrome and the writing is often beautiful. 3.75 stars. ( )
1 vote Michael.Xolotl | Nov 11, 2015 |
Sometimes the best discoveries start as chance events. I saw this book in a second hand shop and thought little more than "oh Barry Unsworth, he's the one who wrote Sacred Hunger, that might be interesting". As it turned out this was an inspired choice.

This is on one level a tautly plotted murder mystery, secondly fourteenth century social history, and thirdly and perhaps deepest an investigation of the birth of modern theatre.

The narrator, a fugitive monk bored with his work, stumbles upon a group of travelling players whose trade is in religious mystery plays, and joins their company to replace a dead man. Their need for money in a strange town leads them to improvise a play based on the murder of a local boy, and as the play and the story evolve, a dark truth emerges. ( )
1 vote bodachliath | Jul 30, 2015 |
bookshelves: autumn-2013, film-only, published-1992, medieval5c-16c, britain-england, play-dramatisation, mystery-thriller, lit-richer, historical-fiction, booker-longlist, bdsm
Read on November 28, 2013

Film is called The Reckoning. Blurb from IMDB: A priest on the lam takes up with a traveling band of actors, who then discover a murder has occurred and try to solve it by recreating the crime in a play.

The film alludes to the evolution of the theatre arts from what was strictly Biblical morality plays in the period to dramas based on real or non-Biblical fictional subjects.

Paul Bettany ... Nicholas
Marián Aguilera ... Nicholas' Lover
Trevor Steedman ... Jealous Husband
Simon McBurney ... Stephen
Tom Hardy ... Straw
Brian Cox ... Tobias
Willem Dafoe ... Martin
Gina McKee ... Sarah

Fantastic, a mediaeval mystery up there with The Name of the Rose, My Name is Red and, if you muster all the Cadfaels together to count as one entrant, that too.

5* Sacred Hunger
5* Morality Play
4* Stone Virgin
3* The Hide ( )
  mimal | Jan 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
It was a death that began it all and another death that led us on.
The player is always trapped in his own play but he must never allow the spectators to suspect this, they must always think that he is free. Thus the great art of the player is not in showing but concealing.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393315606, Paperback)

The national bestseller: A medieval murder mystery full of the wonders of the time—and lessons for our own time—by a master storyteller.

The time is the fourteenth century. The place is a small town in rural England, and the setting a snow-laden winter. A small troupe of actors accompanied by Nicholas Barber, a young renegade priest, prepare to play the drama of their lives. Breaking the longstanding tradition of only performing religious plays, the groups leader, Martin, wants them to enact the murder that is foremost in the townspeoples minds. A young boy has been found dead, and a mute-and-deaf girl has been arrested and stands to be hanged for the murder. As members of the troupe delve deeper into the circumstances of the murder, they find themselves entering a political and class feud that may undo them. Intriguing and suspenseful, Morality Play is an exquisite work that captivates by its power, while opening up the distant past as new to the reader.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:48 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A novel about a group of travelling players touring England in 1390 in the years following the Black Death. Tired of presenting the usual mystery plays they decide to re-enact a murder that has recently taken place in the town they are visiting. This has unforeseen consequences as they are forced to confront the real story of death.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
17 avail.
12 wanted
2 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.77)
0.5 1
1 6
2 8
2.5 4
3 50
3.5 19
4 66
4.5 17
5 44

W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 111,789,507 books! | Top bar: Always visible