:: Encore Theatre Magazine :::: British Theatre: Polemics & Positions ::
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:: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 ::
Royal Court 50
i have the greatest respect for simon stephens, but motortown was a mess. powerful, brilliantly written in parts, with some flashes of deeply uncomfortable truth, and wonderfully performed, but the story didn't ring true for me at all, and if someone's going to make me watch torture and murder on stage, i'd prefer them to be clear about what they're saying - and i had no sense that mr stephens was, at all..
I think the reservations you had were encompassed under the imperfection of the play, but the energy, the spirit of enquiry, the fire in the belly and all the other things that have made the Royal Court great in the past were there in abundance. It wasn't 'On the Shore of the World', but it wasn't trying to be.
Better a thousand imperfect Motortowns than a single O Go My Man. And if we're talking imperfect, was The Winterling even finished?
I think it was fairly clear what was going on with The Winterling. Churchill pulled Cloud 9 and with not very long to go they called in a commission they'd put out to Butterworth who then wrote the play in, I would guess, a week, and it didn't have time to get much beyond that first draft.Post a Comment
Fair play to Jez, though, it's a pretty good first draft, but it's exactly the sort of writing that anyone decent can do at the drop of a hat. The slightly surreal, very vivid, Pinteresque anecdote about fighting a badger, etc. Any writer can do it (except maybe Judy Upton). It's a classic first draft: The writing is all flash fires; characters go nowhere, the energy in the writing overrides narrative coherence, there's a big structural decision made (probably during the writing, not before it) which has yet to be fully worked out; there are stray shreds of mythical idea which would be developed in a subsequent draft. It would have been good if it had been given longer because maybe a better play could have been written. But the timing wasn't Jez's fault.
Also did anyone notice that it's possible to describe The Winterling - in some detail - in exactly the same terms as The Night Heron? Two guys are in a desolate country farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, one younger, one older, there are curious visitors, including an eccentric young woman, there are secrets in the past to be revealed and a natural landscape that offers images of transcendence as well as danger, etc...