Originally written by Morgan as a novel in 1949 The River Line was adapted by him for the Edinburgh Festival of 1952 with a cast that included Paul Scofield and Virginia McKenna. At the time Morgan was considered one of the greatest dramatists of his era, before the angry young men of the late fifties revolutionised British theatre. With Harold Hobson of The Sunday Times describing him as “one of the most important writers of our generation” and the play as “the most exciting, the most sensitive, the most intellectually and emotionally alive play that the Edinburgh Festival has yet given us” and John Barber of the Daily Express writing of it “So dignified, it hurts.” The River Line divided opinion straight down the middle.
Drawing upon his own wartime experience Morgan tells the story of a group of downed, allied pilots in occupied France in 1943 hiding from the Nazis in the granary of a farmhouse owned by a member of the resistance. Tensions rise as they await news of the last leg of their journey through occupied Europe to the Pyrenees along the escape route known as ‘The River Line’. As midnight approaches, one brutal action of terrible suddenness is to haunt their lives forever. It is the story of normal men and women are caught in the turmoil of war and how ordinary people are forced to face up to extraordinary circumstances.
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