At nearly 90 years of age Bernard Kops continues to entertain, unsettle and surprise. Since his early success with his play The Hamlet of Stepney Green in 1958, he has produced an astonishing variety of plays, poems, novels, screenplays, essays, reflections, plus volumes of memoirs, all the while acting, teaching and raising a talented and lively family. His plays primarily tap into his Jewish roots and whether he writes of love, loss, change, dreams, sex, identity, fantasy or day-to-day reality there is always a sprinkling of wry humour, acerbic wit – and sometimes anger – to give a certain edge to his idiosyncratic creations.
He has often said of his plays that the one he has a particular fondness for is Ezra. As in so many of Kops’s works, tragedy and comedy jostle against each other to claim our attention as we experience the gradual disintegration of the once highly active – albeit perverse – imagination of the poet Ezra Pound. During World War 2 Pound was found guilty of broadcasting pro-Fascist, anti-semitic diatribes. When captured, he was incarcerated by the Americans in Pisa. In the play he is ‘visited’ by key characters from his past, such as Vivaldi, who have either shaped his consciousness or coloured his moods.
Productions of the play have been rare. It was originally performed in 1981 at the Half Moon Theatre. The new Minghella Studio at the New Theatre Royal will be home to two performances of Ezra by New Apollo, with support from Cop the Needle productions. Performances will be on the 1st & 2nd of April at 7:30pm, tickets are only £12 & £10 (concessions) from New Theatre Royal Portsmouth Box Office online and by phone: 02392 649000.