Red Noses

Barnes, Peter

Primary Category: Literature / Plays
Secondary Category: Literature / Plays

Genre: Play

Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin
  • Date of entry: Feb-18-1997


This play is set in Auxerre, France, in 1348 in the midst of the Black Plague. The main character is Marcel Flote, a wandering monk who after an inadvertently humorous run-in with a flagellant discovers what God has called him for--laughter in the face of plague, "bright stars not sad comets, red noses not black death. He wants joy."

Flote then sets forth with a troupe of clowns (a new order without order) to make merriment against all odds. Although initially supported by the Church in this endeavor (for its own gain), the Church in the end (not surprisingly) turns against Father Flote and his anti-establishment followers.


The author notes in the preface that although written in 1978, this play was not performed until1985. He notes too, how much the world had changed with regard to plagues and hardheartedness in those seven years. Those who like bawdy British humor will most likely enjoy this play. The London Observer chose Red Noses as Best New Play for 1985.


Faber & Faber

Place Published




Page Count


Secondary Source