I was looking forward to seeing ENRON - 'Lucy Prebble's dazzling play imaginatively staged by Rupert Goold' - at the Noel Coward theatre as reviewers have given it more stars than the American flags round the Washington Monument. It's the true story of the unscrupulous rise and titanic descent of the energy company of that name: key players explain in detail the actual scams which are self-evidently no more sustainable than a petty pyramid-selling scheme, so they must have been pretty stupid as well as staggeringly greedy. As an exposé of the culture that brought Western banking to its knees it was a splendid all-singing all-dancing spectacular. As theatre, it was didactic and overlong. You can usually glean the impact of a play from audience comments afterwards, but all I overheard in the queue in the Ladies loo was a mutter about 'Emperor's new clothes.' Which could be comment on either investors' or reviewers' gullibility really.
Can't let the second series of Being Human end without a fond mention. Some of the scripts didn't reach the crackingly high standard of the first series, true, but the final episodes have been chillingly brilliant and I'm already agog for series 3. Toby Whithouse, who won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Television Drama Series 2009 for creating the series, was interviewed in ALCS News and gave this advice to aspiring scriptwriters:
You should never write for an audience. The only thing that defines you as a writer is your own voice and so nurturing and defining that individual voice is the most important thing you can do... Every time you write, say to yourself, “this will never ever be performed” or “no one else will ever read this”. Because that liberates the work. It means that you are just writing for yourself and gradually defining and sculpting your own voice. Ultimately, it is that voice that is going to make you successful, that is going to make you happy. The moment you start writing to please an agent or an audience, you’re diluting the very thing that makes you different. You can be inspired by people, you can be influenced by people, but you should never change for people....
Good points well made - and they can't be made often enough.
Eastern footnote: While I was enjoying the celebrations of Chinese New Year in Thailand, my writer friend Christine Coleman was launching her novel Paper Lanterns in Hong Kong. The UK launch will be in March - see Chris's lively blog for details.