Theatre Studies and Arts Administration double major Avery Falick created a playlist of songs inspired by the script for Harper Regan and the writing process of playwright Simon Stephens. The lyrics and mood of each song correspond to each scene in the play, offering the listener an aural experience of the script. You can find her Spotify playlist here: https://open.spotify.com/user/1251474173/playlist/3LXZaksdkf2BfTPbF2Zy9u
The rationale for each song is included below. Warning: spoilers!
Harper Regan by Simon Stephens is a story of a woman’s struggle with her personal life and coming to terms with middle age set in England in the late-2000s. While Stephens was writing Harper Regan, he has said that he would listen to music for inspiration for his scenes. This playlist contains songs that Stephens could have used as inspiration during the writing process. This playlist consist of solely British artists to remain true to the setting of the play. The play has a very grungy and honest tone, and most of the songs reflect that vibe while also fitting with what happened during that particular scene. These songs are to be played after the appropriate scene in the blackout between scene changes.
Scene 1: Fight with Elwood
Song: “Let Me Go” by Gary Barlow
This scene is about Harper asking her boss, Elwood, for time off from work to go visit her dying father in the hospital, which he denies. The song title itself is fitting for this scene, which ends with Elwood saying, “There is absolutely no way that you can have any time off. Not now. What are you thinking about?” It can be assumed that Harper is thinking, “let me go,” as she is desperate to go see her father. While the Gary Barlow song is more of a love song, the lyrics can still be applies to the scene, with lyrics such as, “A room full of sadness, a broken heart, and only me to blame… let me go.” The song is fairly upbeat, though, which is a nice contrast to the seriousness of the previous scene, which helps to keep the pace of the show moving.
Scene 2: Harper meets Tobias
Song: “Stray Cat Blues” by The Rolling Stones
Harper and Tobias have a somewhat odd relationship, with Harper almost seemingly flirting with Tobias at the end of this scene when she says she likes the way that he drinks out of his water bottle. This song has a somewhat creepy vibe to it, with lyrics like, “I can see that you’re fifteen years old, no I don’t want your ID.” Harper is significantly older than Tobias. It is even established that he is the same age as her daughter. The song establishes and foreshadows Harper and Tobias’s relationship for scene nine.
Scene 3: Sarah, Seth, and Harper in the kitchen
Song: “Reminder” by Mumford and Sons
This scene shows just how much tension exists in the Regan household. Harper tells her husband and daughter that she left her job to go visit her father and they are unhappy with that decision. At the end of the scene Harper feels like she is in the way of the family, figuratively and literally. This song discusses that feeling, and the hurt feelings that exist in the family anyway, with lyrics such as, “and I won’t hear you cry when I’m gone, I won’t know if I’m doing you wrong,” and “so I watched the world tear us apart, a stoic mind and a bleeding heart, you never see my bleeding heart.”
Scene 4: Sarah and Harper on playground
Song: “Don’t Go Away” by Oasis
This scene shows the audience that Sarah and Harper have a strained relationship. Sarah is in a formative time of her life and Harper is not really there for her when she needs her. At the end of this scene, Sarah finds out that Harper is literally leaving her to go to Manchester, and is upset by this news. The lyrics in this song, such as, “so don’t go away… in the time of my life ‘cause I need more time… me and you- what’s going on? All we seem to know is how to show the feeling that are wrong,” depict Sarah and Harper’s relationship at the end of this scene well.
Scene 5: Harper at hospital in Stockport
Song: “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” by Gerry and the Peacemakers
In this scene, Harper finds out that her father died in the hospital before she could get there. This is obviously upsetting to Harper. This song is fitting for the sad tone of the scene. The scene also ends with a discussion of the weather, and lyrics about the sun mirror those lines.
Scene 6: Harper meets Mickey
Song: “You Know I’m No Good” by Amy Winehouse
This scene ends with Harper stabbing Mickey, a guy she meets at a bar. The scene ends fairly abruptly with a stabbing and Harper running away. This song talks about a girl meeting a boy in a bar, like Harper does in the scene. With lyrics like “I told you I was trouble, You know that I’m no good,” and a blaring saxophone, this song fits the ending of this scene very well.
Scene 7: Harper meets James
Song: “Love is the Drug” by Roxy Music
At the end of this scene, it is assumed that Harper and James sleep together. In her mid-life crisis, Harper is sort of flailing through life and looking for a sense of fulfillment that her marriage is not giving her, leading her to meet up with James at a hotel. The scene ends with James asking Harper to turn off the lights. Harper uses love to fulfill herself in this scene. With lyrics like, “love is the drug and I need to score,” this song is fitting for Harper’s state at the end of this scene.
Scene 8: Harper and her mother
Song: “The House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals
Harper and her mother have a strained relationship, which can be seen throughout this scene. This song has a sad tone to it, and the scene ends on a somber note, with Alison talking about the weather because she does not know what else to say. With lyrics like, “tell your children not to do what I have done, spend your lives in sin and misery in the House of the Rising Sun,” this song portrays what Alison says at the end of the scene about waiting for her life to happen before realizing that it has been happening. Alison has regrets in her life, and the song discusses living while you can.
Scene 9: Harper meets Tobias again
Song: “Wrapped Around Your Finger” by The Police
In this scene, Harper and Tobias’s relationship escalates, to Tobias showing physical attraction towards Harper, and Harper admitting that she just walked up to him to talk to him, not because she thought she recognized him. Tobias clearly feels some chemistry with Harper, and with lyrics like, “hypnotized by you if I should linger, staring at the ring around your finger… I’ll be wrapped around your finger,” the song describes a boy falling for an older, married woman.
Scene 10: Harper returns home
Song: “Your Love Alone is Not Enough” by Manic Street Preachers
At the end of the scene, there is tension between Harper, Sarah and Seth upon Harper’s return. Sarah and Seth are upset with Harper for leaving them, and Harper revealed that she slept with somebody else on the road. Harper also discusses Seth’s child pornography charges with Sarah. This family has a lot of healing to do in order to be functional again. The lyrics to the song describe instances like this, where love is more about action that speech, and the Regan’s have a lot of loving actions to show each other if they want to be happy again.
Scene 11: A look into the future?
Song: “Flux” by Bloc Party
The end of Harper Regan is fairly ambiguous, and leaves the audience wanting more. The second to last scene ends on a negative note, while this scene shows a happy family sitting together in their house and loving each other. This song is upbeat, showing hope for the future of the family. The chorus of the song says, “we were hoping for some romance, all we found was more despair. We must talk about our problems, we are in a state of flux,” which accurately describes the Regan family at the end of the show. There is hope for the family, but there is still a lot of work and mending to be done.