Everybody else is at it, so why not me? Blogging at work, that is, not registering a protest vote in the local elections. Though I would've voted Green, had I not forgotten to take my card out with me this morning on my way to the Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone to talk to college students about the business of playwriting. Which is no use to the Greens. But hopefully the talk was useful, at least in managing to paint a realistic portrait of what it's like to make a living as a dramatist. Ie, practically impossible, save for a rarified genus of the species. But I hope I also got across to them that though it's hard to justify this occupation in terms of material benefits, it has huge compensations, satisfactions, pleasures. Social, intellectual, personal.
Where was I? Ah, work. Yes, duty managing at Southwark, for the press night of The Mushroom Pickers by Jacqueline McCarrick. It's directed by Svetlana Dimcovic whom I know of old. The show's up now so I have downtime. Just like an office worker on his lunchbreak. Except they probably work through that, don't they.
So two theatre notes: Simon Stephens' play Motortown at the Royal Court is extraordinary, for one thing. Bold, passionate, brilliantly wrought, a better reworking of Woyzeck I could not imagine. Urgently topical, hugely humane, with the best, in the sense that it stretches the actor's talents to the limit, leading role I've seen in a new play for as long as I can remember. I'm no expert though, and have no encyclopedic knowledge. If you know of a more, or even equally demanding, challenging part for a leading actor in recent times, do say. Daniel Mays is up to it, for sure. He's stunning in fact.
Stunning in a different way was the second half of The Royal Hunt Of The Sun. Bombastic, overblown, a cacophony of male voices shouting at each other. And the intimate scenes between Pizzarro and Atahualpa I found predictable and trite. At the end of the first half I was cursing Trevor Nunn's showiness. At the end of the second I understood this to have been his attempt to draw a veil over the play's shortcomings. It wasn't helped by the fact that Alun Armstrong was indisposed the (second) night I went. But the workmanlike performance of Andrew MacDonald as Pizzarro served to draw focus to the dodgy writing. Sorry, Mr Shaffer. Good job he doesn't read blogs and/or couldn't give a flying one what I think. What if he did read this? Ah yes, he'd put in the comment box, You can moan and carp all you like - but have you ever written anything as good as Equus, Mr Sharkey? Mm? What's that? No. Exactly. No you haven't.