Department of Greek & Latin

The UCL Classical Play

Menander's The Grouch (Dyskolos)

10-11 February 2016 at 19:30, Logan Hall, 20 Bedford Way

approximate running time: 1.5 hours with no interval

Dyskolos is the story of Knemon, a grouchy old man who hates the world. His wife has left him, and he lives alone with his daughter on his farm. A city boy from Athens, Sostratos, falls in love at first sight with his daughter, and pretends to be a hardworking farmer in order to impress our grouch. Hilarity ensues in this award-winning play of 316 BC (when it won the first prize at the Lenaea festival in ancient Athens).

Our production offers you the unique opportunity to see a rarely performed comedy by Menander, in a modern English translation by Maurice Balme. Dyskolos is the most complete surviving example of ancient Greek ‘New’ Comedy, which inspired Roman playwrights Terence and Plautus, and, by extension, what we think of modern comedy (via Shakespeare and Molière). The production will be an accessible introduction for those unfamiliar with Ancient Theatre but also an exciting, hilarious window into the lives and culture of the Ancient Greeks. Come along for the ride!

The UCL Classical Drama Society and the Department of Greek and Latin each year present a classical play in English translation in UCL's own theatre, the UCL Bloomsbury. The play takes place in February each year (about the same time as the ancient Athenian dramatic festival known as the Lenaia).


This is now one of the most famous and long-running commitments to the modern production of ancient drama in the world. It attracts large audiences, many of whom are young people studying classical drama at school or university, and is regularly reviewed in the national press. Ticket prices are kept low. 

The production is managed by students in the Department of Greek and Latin, with help and advice from staff. A number of former students involved in the classical play have gone on to careers in drama. Students choose a director and a producer in the autumn: the title of the play for the following year is announced in late October (and will be posted on this website).

UCL Bloomsbury Theatre

The Department of Greek and Latin is committed to bringing these productions to the widest possible audience. For each production we run a programme of lectures and workshops, free and open to the public, which are run by leading academics and theatre experts from across the UK. For the benefit of schools and colleges we also create a web-page of study materials on ancient drama in general, and with special focus on the current year's performance. The students also maintain a blog on the play as they rehearse.