On theatre.

Selsey’s forgotten grand pageant, 1965

In my late father's papers I recently came across a typescript of Tides of Invasion: The Selsey story, a pageant by Geoffrey Dearmer. I knew the author was a distinguished WW1 poet, long neglected, who had one important but slight Selsey connection. Light investigation revealed nothing about Tides though it was great to find that Juliet Woollcombe, the author's daughter, knew a great deal about it and shared some ancilliary material as to its sole performance in 1965. Still, I have seen no other evidence of the pageant's existence or performance. Read more...


10 March 2023

Stoppard comes to Leopoldstadt

Tom Stoppard is the indispensable playwright of my generation. He is rather more: he is one of the key British cultural figures of my times. He ranks with the other knights Sir Mick Jagger and Sir Roy Strong as a person of style. As a creative talent, he ranks with… Read more...


12 December 2021

Collaborative theatre, self-writing and showing-off

What kind of public performance should I try to deliver? I used to do quite big presentations for industry, schools, universities and NGOs. I appeared once at the Hay Literary Festival and once at Glastonbury (until I was run out of the latter by grunge eco-freaks). These events were highly argumentative, and entertaining for at least some in the audience, which I very seldom appeased.

Now, I want to face different challenges in a quite different spirit. Read more...


10 March 2019

Jessica Chastain’s “Salomé”

Al Pacino's Salomé efforts are really wonderful and  I want to rattle on about all three: the film of the play; the documentary about the filming of the play; and the Stephen Fry Q&A on Sunday 21 September at the BFI. My main point is that Jessica Chastain was the star of all of them. Read more...


22 September 2014

Medea: Revenge and The Avengers at the NT

Helen McRory's Medea was unmatchable, I'd guess. She is superb as the woman close to a complete breakdown but never more magnificent and even sometimes in an eerie sort of control, and not without wit and guile. Not at all without those latter, though at her wits' end. But let's get down to business - the bits she's not accountable for.   Read more...


05 September 2014

David Hare’s Skylight revived

I like the idea of liking David Hare as a pretty good playwright of the human heart who is hopeless when he lets his NW1 soft-left liberalism close his mind like a clam. But his Skylight, recently reprised in the West End, and by the NT live in cinemas, makes this quite difficult. Read more...


01 September 2014

Selsey’s fine homage to “Journey’s End”

Last evening I saw the very moving show, The End of the Journey, A promenade performance about WW1. It was staged in the same, small Pavilion Theatre in Selsey High Street where R C Sherriff took a keen interest in a late 1933 amateur production of his play, Journey's End, the hugely successful and influential West End hit of 1929. Read more...


09 August 2014

Loving the fake (#2 of 2): Human zoos

I love the "problem" of tourism and - most sharply - the problem of the "human zoo". Almost all our travel, at least where it involves looking at people rather than landscape or animals, has a dimension of anthropological voyeurism. Much of it is a matter of play-acting amongst imagined peasantries or primitives. This has now reached new heights of self-consciousness, and is blissfully funny as well as serious.... Read more...


24 April 2014

Elmgreen & Dragset’s “Tomorrow”, at the V&A

I was oddly touched by Tomorrow.  Its conceit was believable in both character and staging, and precisely because they are preposterous. Its central figure Norman Swann, was posited as probably queer and possibly a non-practising pederast; as glamorous, sad, modernist and - yes - socialist. Read more...


10 October 2013

Nina Conti: a great show

Nina Conti is on the road this autumn and the sell-out show is really marvellous. It is clever, sharp and charming - rather as the on-stage presence of its star. Read more...


04 October 2013
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