Girish Mahajan (Editor)

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

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Written by  Peter Nichols
Original language  English
First performance  1967
Setting  Bristol
Date premiered  1967
Genre  Comedy
Playwright  Peter Nichols
Place premiered  Citizens Theatre
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Subject  Parents with a child with cerebral palsy use humour to cope
Characters  Joe, Freddie, Sheila, Grace, Pam, Bri
Similar  Peter Nichols plays, Comedies

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg is a 1967 play by the English playwright Peter Nichols, first staged at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland, before transferring to the Comedy Theatre in London's West End.


Plot summary

The play centers on a British couple who are struggling to save their marriage whilst trying to raise their only child, a small girl with cerebral palsy. She uses a wheelchair and is unable to communicate. Caring for her has occupied nearly every moment of her parents' lives since her birth, taking a heavy toll on their marriage.

Sheila, her mother, gives Josephine as much of a life as she can while husband Bri wants the child institutionalised and has begun to entertain chilling fantasies of killing himself and Josephine.


  • Bri
  • Grace
  • Joe
  • Freddie
  • Pam
  • Sheila
  • Productions

    After its premiere in Glasgow in 1967, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg opened in London's West End in 1967 then transferred to Broadway the next year. On Broadway, the play received four nominations for Tony Awards, including Best Play, Best Actor (Albert Finney), Best Featured Actress (Zena Walker) and Best Director (Michael Blakemore). Walker won the Tony for Best Featured Actress.

    The play has been revived twice on Broadway. A 1985 revival staged at the Longacre Theatre ran for 93 performances. It was directed by Arvin Brown and the cast included Jim Dale, Stockard Channing, Joanna Gleason, Christina Pickles and Kate Wilkinson. The production won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival.

    A revival in the West End opened in October 2001 at the New Ambassadors Theatre, starring Clive Owen and Victoria Hamilton and was directed by Laurence Boswell. This production transferred to the Comedy Theatre in December 2001, with Eddie Izzard replacing Owen. The same production opened on Broadway, produced by Roundabout Theatre, in March 2003 at the American Airlines Theatre and played for 69 performances. Directed by Lawrence Boswell, the play starred Eddie Izzard and Victoria Hamilton.

    In October 2011 the Citizens Theatre again staged the play that premiered there in 1967, with Miriam Margolyes confirmed in the cast.

    In May 2013 it received an off-off-Broadway production from Retro Productions in New York City.

    Film adaptations

    Nichols adapted A Day in the Death of Joe Egg for two films, first in 1970, and again in 2002. The 1970 adaptation, which was not released until 1972, was directed by Peter Medak, starring Alan Bates, Janet Suzman, Joan Hickson, Peter Bowles and Elizabeth Robillard. A 2002 television version was directed by Robin Lough, with stars Eddie Izzard, Victoria Hamilton, Prunella Scales, and Robin Weaver.

    Awards and nominations

  • 1985 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival
  • 1985 Outer Critics Circle Awards Best Revival
  • 1985 Tony Award for Best Reproduction of a Play
  • Nominations
  • 1968 Tony Award for Best Play
  • 2003 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play
  • 2003 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Play
  • References

    A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Wikipedia