Winner! Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Best Play Winner! Canadian National Regional Theatre Award

This is the touching story of a fisherman living on a remote Irish island who has fallen in love with a woman he’s glimpsed only once. Unschooled in letter writing, he tries his utmost to court by mail and after a year and a half succeeds in arranging a rendezvous at which, to his surprise, she persuades him to live with her in Liverpool. Their love affair ends when he is forced to return to a life he understands.

From the author: “If this play is about anything, it might be about knowing our place. Especially in liquid times, when we can easily flow wherever, and seemingly become whatever. To hold a way of life, something secretly treasured, maybe without knowing it, has become and obsolete idea, now called stagnation. But being mobile, trading up, “bettering yourself” is a respectable life’s work, while other, simpler concerns are postponed.”

“High Marks for Sea Marks” – Walter Kerr, THE New York Times



Masters of the Sea continues the action of Sea Marks; it is a sequel, though it stands alone and does not depend on its predecessor. Colm returns to his island followed by his wife-to-be (Timothea Stiles) who visits him only to bring him back with her. His father – The Macafee – appears to explain his own dying to his son. Colm murders an Englishman he has rescued from drowning.

From the author: “If this play is about anything it is about courage. Not the patriotic courage of a group passionate for a just cause. It is about one-by-one courage, the most troublesome kind; the individual effort. It is about the courage to save your exterminator’s life, because your exterminator is a human being, the mininum requirement for salvation…This play is an homage to these masters of the sea and to their fellow islanders who cling to their doomed existence on a windblown craggy rock without remembering why they first came centuries ago. There is a ragged majesty seen in their will, in their power and their moments of joy…It is also about place. And knowing which is ours…It is about love…It is about abandonment; the exchange of a natural life for a lifestyle. It is about an island of lifers, whose lives depend upon each other, who know each other too well to be only friends. It is about optimism. And being protected by the old belief that there will always be “better news tomorrow.” It is about not killing the thing you hate. Killing the thing you love being the luxury of another class…It is about vengeance and repatriation; coming to terms. It is also about faith versus faith; religious faith versus natural faith; testing inventions of faith against ancient, imbued beliefs. It is about oppression. It is about strength. It is about revenge. It is about the return of a young king, displaced, trying to take his place among his kin. It is about the return of a dead king, as a vision of truth for the young king. It is about absent love; the impossible love that still exists. It is about romance, yet it is the opposite of romance; it is a romantic tragedy. It is about the ecstasy of survival.”

“An absolutely brilliant piece of playwriting.” - Kansas City Star
“Rich language, broad humor, and true wit – an authentic piece of literature.” - Missouri Rep



This psychological thriller is a favorite in acting workshops. It is a mind game play. Toyer is someone who toys; he is a mass paralyzer who toys with his victims. He does not murder or rape, he seduces and them immobilizes.

From the author: “If this play is about anything, it is about our vast ability to manipulate one another. About our wondrous gift for lying. It is about our awful power of charisma. It is about our capacity to believe any truth, as it suits us. It is about our immediate power to forgive; our need to move on. It is about compromise, our willingness to sleep with our executioner. It is about our moral lawlessness: our loss of instincts, and the inner beliefs of our own. It is about our capacity to absorb mindless horror, that a crime is only a crime if it happens to us; nothing else angers us. It is about our dreadful crimes; not that they happen, that we know about them and turn the page.”

“Deeply disturbing and entirely relevant. A classic mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat, guessing.” - All Things Considered, National Public Radio

“A brilliant evening of theater. A double tour de force. The most exciting play we’ve had all year.” - Variety

“Powerful.” - The Washington Post



Author’s Note:

If this play is about anything, it is about love, a few of the many disguises love wears. it is about the fortress that families build to guard love within their walls.

There can be love, as it is needed, between species, races.

Between dog and cat, between people of the same gender, between letter-writers who have never met, between rhinoceros and donkey, between sister and brother, between priest and murderer, between man and God, between anything.

Love makes no sense, it never has, it never should. Love does not have a brain in its head, it cannot add or subtract, calculate.

And tough love is frail, lovers are not. Lovers have no fear of extinction, they are not an endangered species. Love is our greatest need and remains as always the most powerful force on Earth. God, after all, is only one of the many creations of love.   - G. McKay

For six years Tomby has pretended to be retarded while his twin brother has tried to kill him, his sister is in love with him and her finance wants him dead. Father is brain damaged from a Navy wound and it is up to hard working Mom to hold the family together. She knows everyone’s secrets but keeps them to herself so the family boat won’t rock. The play opens on the eve of the twins’ birthday. Winner of a NEA grant when presented at Actors Studio and produced on PBS Television Theatre with Richard Dreyfuss and Geraldine Fitzgerald, this is an unusual family story.

“Murderously funny, moving play…. It focuses on the various natures of true love.” - L.A. Times

“Off center comedy drama of the Jerome family coming of age, in spite of bizarre behavior madness, duplicity and even a touch of incest…. [It] has truly touching moments…. Mr. McKay’s writing is at top form, powerfully funny and wise.” - Variety

“Hilarious, stirring and deep.” - Herald Examiner



In Order of Appearance is a sequel to Gardner McKay’s play Me.

Tom Vickery has a secret. Or did. Twenty years ago he wrote a play that his agent, Morris Bonecream, told him was too personally embarrassing to produce. Tom set fire to him. Bonecream sued Tom for arson. Tom disappeared. He is presumed dead, but in reality is living in the Maine woods bottling cranberry brandy and married to Gemma Jones, a woman who knows nothing of his past. Suddenly, Bonecream appears; Tom’s play is a huge hit in London under an Englishman’s name, Dunlop Sablehand. Bonecream needs Tom’s script as evidence to get his commission from the plagiarist. Gemma reads the play and leaves Tom. A character from the play, Shelley Vickery, turns up. She straightens Tom out. The hired man falls in love with her. Gemma comes back to Tom. Bonecream finds God, or someone like him.

“Very, very funny. A play with a long future.” – Sylvie Drake

In Order of Appearance was first presented as a staged reading the Pasadena Playhouse in California. It was directed by Mark Haining.

One thought on “Plays

  1. Im an acting student and my graduation project is Gardner Mckay’s Toyer. I need all of the details about Mckay and The Toyer. Can u help me?

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