Friday, June 03, 2011

And I And Silence, a world premiere at Finborough Theatre, premier venue for provocative new writing, sounded worth a trip to London: with daisy-chains of stars from reviewers and deemed "unmissable" by Guardian drama queen Lyn Gardner. Theatre Guide London rates it “a play that wants to make you weep, and is quite likely to succeed, so touching is its story” and I'd go half-way with that, stopping at the second comma. It was eye-wateringly dreary. Maybe it's sacrilege to suggest that a play dealing with a subject like racial segregation still needs credible characters and dialogue which is more than abstract ranting, occasionally in rhyme. “Naomi Wallace's short, painful prison drama uses the backdrop of racially segregated '50s America to weave a tale of the hope that can blossom behind bars, and the despair that can destroy a life outside them.” said Time Out, tactfully focussing on the plot not the writing. Short? - even with four excellent women actors, that was a long 70 minutes. Among the critics' bewilderingly gushing tributes there's one incisive comment by Miriam Gillinson in Culture Wars: "plays commissioned for a set purpose (are) tough to stomach... this process often seems to suck the life and spontaneity right out of the writing." And as this honest and unsychophantic review says, And I And Silence is a formulaic play that teaches no-one anything about prison life or its effects.

No need to trek up to London for entertainment anyway, when Bath on a sunny day brims with street theatre and live music. My friend Diana Cambridge lives in delightfully bohemian style in a house with views across the city, and lunch in her garden is always a treat. Her next book Writing for Magazines: The Essential Guide is out in October.

And once again belatedly... now that - via my son's DVD - I've discovered Stewart Lee , I'm addicted to the Comedy Vehicle reruns on BBC2.
His take on quality of life is still on BBC i-player if you missed the magic "Prawns prawns prawns", now my mantra for the summer.

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