Play for Today: Schmoedipus

Schmoedipus.  Broadcast 20 June 1974.  Directed by Barry Davis.  Written by Dennis Potter.  Duration: 67 minutes.

Cast: Tim Curry (Glen), Anna Cropper (Elizabeth Carter), John Carson (Tom Carter), John Horsley (Ronnie), Bob Hoskins (Blake), Carol Macready (Dorothy).

One of the strongest Play for Todays, this odd play by Dennis Potter concerns Liz, a mild-mannered housewife; her train-made husband Tom, bored to tears in his scientific office; and a mysterious stranger called Glen.

In the twists and turns of this plot we learn about all three of them, and the tangled web of secrets, lies and games which pulls them together.

Not unreminiscent of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, this play is sweet, sexy, disturbing, and ultimately tense, and boasts strong performances from Anna Cropper and Tim Curry as the ‘mother’ and ‘son’ in the case.

Rarely seen these days, this play was remade for the screen as Track 29 in 1988, with Gary Oldman in the Tim Curry role. This, too, has become rather obscure.

A pity, as Schmoedipus is a clever piece, witty, charming, and with an undercurrent of pure evil. Curry would of course become very well-known as Frank ‘n Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a part which suited his odd looks and demeanour perfectly.