“You have a right to the work, not the reward.”
(See reviews below photos.)
My new play Enquiry Concerning Hereafter flourished in 2023 with two productions. The Edinburgh Business School and Panmure House presented the play's world premiere with 24 performances as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Our stage was inside Panmure House, where Adam Smith actually resided in his later years, and where he died. Audiences embraced the play with warmth, laughter, and enthusiasm (see below).
And a radio play version was produced by AdamSmithWorks, an international academic organization dedicated to all things Adam Smith. The radio version was released on that organization's website when the stage play opened in Edinburgh. The radio play is free to listen to, courtesy of AdamSmithWorks.
The Scottish philosophers David Hume and Adam Smith were giants of the Enlightenment. They were also the dearest of friends who stimulated, challenged, loved, pushed, and supported each other as they forged their profound ideas that still very much shape our world today. Enquiry Concerning Hereafter is the story of Hume and Smith’s final days. They grieve because old age and disease are separating them. Charon arrives to ferry them across the river Styx.
Reviews of Enquiry Concerning Hereafter
"American playwright Duane Kelly explored the final hours and death thoughts of the 18th Century Scottish philosophers Adam Smith and David Hume. Enquiry Concerning Hereafter, magnificently staged in Smith's own restored home Panmure House, just off the Royal Mile, delved into the bedrock of our anxiety over dying once we have overcome our fear of a vengeful Creator."
- Kevin Toolis, review in The Spectator
"As in life, so in death must a river run through their friendship. As the Forth is replaced by the Styx, the Lecture Room at Panmure House - the actual backdrop to this play - readily summons the atmosphere which would’ve held sway during their sporadic meetings. . . . The nuanced performances are perfectly allied to dialogue which carry the metatextuality of philosophical discourse to impart two minds entwining, diverging before finally aligning. We witness the essence of true friendship with all kinks and quirks present. These characters are quite simply a joy to watch…perhaps the reason why Charon generously gave them a few extra moments to share in each other’s company."
- Kenny Burnham, full review here
"Dialogue-driven in the best philosophical tradition, done with style. . . . It has considerable appeal, both visually and intellectually."
- Hugh Simpson, review in AllEdinburghTheatre.com
Audience Comments on Enquiry Concerning Hereafter, August 2023
"A play of ideas brought wonderfully to life through excellent performances and fantastic direction. Had the entire audience deeply engaged throughout. Much enjoyed it." - Hedda Bird
"This was my last show (of 29) this year and a fine way to finish. Thoroughly recommended." - Richard Mellishabout
"A fabulous and engaging show. All 3 actors were superb, enacting the relationship between David Hume and Adam Smith in a clever and humorous way , yet still covering (as much a could be done in 75 mins) some of the history and impact both had on society then and now." - Steve Pairman
"A site-specific treat with three wonderful actors doing great work, individually and as an ensemble. Thoroughly enjoyed." - Jean Hanff Korelitz
"Phenomenal performances! Well done to all involved."
"Engaging throughout- I want to know more. Brilliant characterisation & acting! "
"Intimate and witty – loved it!"
"Intriguing and a great tribute to friendship. Beautifully acted + produced."
"Genuine + engaging friendship and its end! Loved it."
"Fantastic performance – 5 stars!"
"Wonderfully engaging. The language used was an absolute treat. Utterly believable. Well done!"
"Truly enlightening – well done!"
"Fantastic – Panmure House the perfect venue for an excellent play."
"Great acting and so much food for thought." – S + D
"Excellent! Really gave us a feel for the period!" - Pairel and Patricia Vahle
"Enjoyed it so much, very moving and great acting!"
"I wish all the history could be portrayed like this! Wonderful. Thank you." – E + E
"A brilliant play – wonderful setting and acting. Hope there will be a published copy." – David Hannay
"Wonderful performances from all three characters. Deeply human and moving portrayal of friendship."
"Thank you all, writer and actors. You dealt in ideas and humanity- it all worked!" – Mike Nelly, Lauren Wangh
"Wonderful show! Performed beautifully by the actors with the addition of the most beautiful costumes I have ever seen! A triumph."
"Moving. Thought-provoking. Unforgettable."
"Absolutely superlative! Brilliant cast, brilliant script." – Anne T.
"Best show on the Fringe! Informative and entertaining! Thank you!"
"Really great to see this performance in the house where Smith lived and died!" – David Lee
"A very wonderful and deep reflection of friendship. Thank you for that." - R.F.
"Inspired! So well done – relevant to the times."
"Incredible performance, very moving and thought provoking."
"Thoroughly enjoyed this. Fascinating, great performance and fabulous setting. Great experience. Many thanks to all!"
"Wonderful cast and a light touch educational journey – much enjoyed."
"Stunning production – thought you’re really there together."
"Completely transported by these actors and this script – brought to life the history and the thinking. Thank you so much!" – Franco, British Young Leaders
"Fantastic fun and thought provoking. Brilliant performances." - Euan
"Gorgeous building, gorgeous venue." – Jacqueline
"Best acting in Edinburgh this year." – WS
"A tour de force if ever there was one! Brilliant!"
"This performance was touching, illuminating, and beautiful." – Rob Von Gleebeek
"What an intriguing, inspiring and clever production. Loved it, thank you." – Erica Luscombe
"The best and by far the most entertaining, educational and amazing period of Scotland’s and the World’s history. Superbly and cleverly done." – Bill and Carole Kleys
"Well acted and written – funny, moving and makes one want to find out more of their lives." – Derek Read
"Excellent play in a stunning venue." – VK
"Wonderful, thought provoking. I want to learn so much more now. The playwright was astounding as were the actors!" - Colleen Birgil
"Excellent script, acting and directing. Thank you!" - A + A Rutherford
"Bravo actors, Bravo Duane!"
"Wonderful. I am leaving quite emotional! Lovely script and beautifully acted."
"This is a return to an Edinburgh Fringe play I’ve been searching for for years, filled my soul. Thank you!" – Isabella Ferguson
"An excellent piece performed with wit, alacrity and tenderness, enjoyed it massively!"