Play Reviews
The Cricket Test

Ah, the little oversights which separate us from fame and fortune. I wrote the first act of a play about a woman and a hut, saw that there was a London New Play Festival and this very day was the closing date, sent it off and forgot about it. Then I wrote two more acts. Out of the blue about six months later I got a call from Phil Setren, the director of the LNPF, saying he liked the play, it was on. It was only when I got down to London that I realised that all he'd got was the first act. Phil turned to the administrator and she shook her head. Everything had been booked for a one act play. And that was it. In ten seconds a three act play had had been trisected and two parts gone overboard. It survived, it was good, but the full version is much better, more significant, it works harder and gets further. It was well performed as a piece of course work by Students at Bretton Hall. Nonetheless, between that and a professional production is the difference between listening to a symphony on a hi-fi and, being there.

Jenny Eastop directed. I couldn't believe my luck, I'd only met her once, at a workshop at Hull Truck, and had realised then she would be perfect (near as can be, for the writer) to work with. I suggested that Mary must be either African, or English, but not African-Caribbean. An African accent would be naturally right, and an English accent, it didn't matter from where, would be neutral; but African-Caribbean would make the character specifically that, and a nonsense of the play. Jenny cast Joy Richardson in the part, as the review confirms an outstanding actor. "And," said Jenny, "she's Ghanaian." In fact Jenny had misheard, Joy's ancestry is Guyanan. From, at the time, Stoke Newington. Perfect in every way then.
Oh, and there was a different side to the "English bigot" in Acts 2 and 3.
Care 'n' Coercion

This was done by four drama students from Salford. They were brilliant. With degree subjects there are hard options, like physics, and vaguely coherent conglomerates of offshoots of other disciplines, like, well anything studies, basically. I hadn't really thought much about drama students, but I learnt here that it's in the physics league. You have to learn how to act, if you can, but beyond that you have to learn how to work, constant self-discipline, constant revision and trying to get nearer to what you, and the whole project, are aiming at, co-operation, improvisation, deprivation, and an understanding of how enterprises work and what has to be done, financial, technical, artisitic, to make them work. This is not a schooling in luviness.

The scene is a dental practice. At some point one character shoots another with a dildo. The dildo is real - well you can see it in the picture, I'm not sure it would be much practical use, even before we got hold of it; but we had the most tremendous pyrotechnic, I think it was the only thing that got the technician to Edinburgh. There was a fantastic bang and a bowl of fruit, putatively hit by the bullet, exploded all over the set. So, before we went, we were trying to do a publicity shot. One of the cast managed to get this fantastic dental model thing, but we couldn't get the semiotics right. Then somebody took the plunge. It was at this point that things began to go wrong for our country.