Film still from The Nervous State
Video, 15 mins

The Nervous State: Collaboration, Performances and Impact

A dramatic adaptation of F.L. Lucas's Journal Under the Terror, 1938

History drama. Europe stretched to breaking point by political crisis and fear. One couple’s psychological battle in the War of Nerves, 1938.

On 31 December 1937 F L (‘Peter’) Lucas, Bloomsbury writer, Cambridge classics fellow, resolved to keep a diary for one year, motivated by a growing sense of dread at the approach of war. He was researching a new play based on Icelandic saga in collaboration with his younger wife, classicist and artist, Prudence (‘Prudey’) Lucas (née Wilkinson).

Through 1938 Peter and Prudey travelled and researched the Laxdæla saga, until Prudey’s breakdown at the height of the Munich crisis. Soon after Journal Under The Terror 1938 was published Peter Lucas began divorce proceedings; Prudey is barely mentioned in the published book. Having turned to the study of psychology during his wife’s illness, Lucas becomes increasingly fascinated by the science of the mind and will spend WWII working for British Intelligence at Bletchley Park.



The Performance

  • Nicola Baldwin, Playwright and Director
  • Conrad Nelson as Peter Lucas
  • Becky Simon as Prudence Lucas
  • Sophie Helbig, as Gudrun/Narrator

The Film

  • Filmed and produced by Kitty Turner 
  • Tom Robbins, Live Camera

Special thanks to

See also