Quartermaine's Terms is a sad and beautiful play by Simon Gray concerning the mental decline of a teacher in an English school. It's mostly a character study of selfish people, and how they face life's tragedies, great and small, and their relationship with a colleague who is no longer up to snuff. These teachers and administrators aren't bad people, they just have, as the saying goes, their own agenda. They can't really help poor Quartermaine, whose mind wanders a lot, and who has lately been missing classes. Then again, they don't really try. Quartermaine, for his part, is an amiable sort, and likes everybody. Whatever his faults, Quartermaine is not selfish. He's a good team player in his way, but he doesn't know how to play the game.
We never get a diagnosis of this man, who is clearly suffering from some form of mental illness, as we see him from the outside only, as his colleagues do. What we do see clearly are the other teachers; their pettiness, self-absorption and above all their apathy; and this aspect of the play rings especially true. Quartermaine's Terms offers a devastatingly accurate, exceedingly unflattering picture of a certain aspect of genteel middle class life, of which it is, by implication, an indictment, and manages to do so without anyone in the play having to raise his voice.
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