14 May 2008

These past few weeks I have been gorging on some fine writing. Three plays by Henrik Ibsen, for a start: two in vivid versions by Frank McGuiness (A Doll's House, The Lady From The Sea) and one very strong one by Rebecca Lenkiewicz (An Enemy Of The People). Then there was Fram of course, with Tony Harrison at his eccentric best, and round the corner, Simon Stephens's soulful Harper Regan. Martin Crimp's play The City had the quality of a nightmare and resembled, for me, the darker work of the great Paul Auster. At the Bush, I enjoyed Lucy Kirkwood's sweetly insane Tinderbox, and next evening over at Soho I loved Static, by Dan Rebellato. Today I saw the wonderful (and unexpectedly touching) big splash debut by Polly Stenham. I've already written about Jonah and Otto here. What I didn't tell you is that I attended a recent rehearsed reading of Robert Holman's Rafts And Dreams, that knocked me over. Then at last Sunday's Miniaturists there was fine work from Christina Balit, Rachel Barnett, Declan Feenan, Hilary Bell, and a debut from Paul Chadwick (our first professor). I make no apology for citing the writers alone here. Needless to say, great work was done on all the above by directors, actors, producers, designers, etc. But I'm wanting to big up the people who dreamed up and wrote down the words, the scenarios, the blueprints, the rubrics - hell why don't we call them the scripts and be done with it, for these life-enhancing, spellbinding entities and say, hey, thanks. And respect.

07 May 2008


What do Damien Hirst, legendary cricket umpire Dicky Bird, and poker superstar Dave "The Devilfish" Ulliott have in common?

Answer: they "love their snooker". During the final session of this year's World Championships, the camera picked out the above luminaries, and in those beyond-parody (though Mitchell and Webb have made a very good fist, witness the fact that a spectator was wearing a t-shirt bearing the legend 'Ooh and that's a bad miss') cliche-ridden hushed tones, the commentators informed us, proud as Punch, that the famous umpire/artist/poker player "loves his snooker". Moments later a streaker, er, streaked on to the stage, divesting himself of black tie and dinner dress before dancing around the table bollock naked; I can't begin to do justice to Dennis Taylor's panicked demeanour, resolving to stoicism, as the director cut to him in the commentary box to spare us the delicate pink in the middle.

I shall so miss the whole Crucible thing when the Championships decamp, as they surely will in time, to China. It'll be on the box still, obviously, but will it be so unselfconsciously, gloriously eccentric?

02 May 2008

Today's the last day of my NT attachment. It's been a sincere sensation. There's that old quote, which for the present purpose I shall gender-transpose: "What my husband doesn't understand is, when I'm looking out of the window, I'm working." Eight weeks of looking out the window. Marvellous. There's a particular atmosphere here, very conducive, and that's down to the staff, artists and others, who are without exception as hospitable and supportive as an incomer could wish.

In memoriam, here are some notes I took, towards some scenes for something I'm not now going to write, having since taken rather a different tack (all that looking out the window you see). But I like the list as a thing in itself (and some of the ideas persist).

James Joyce introduces

Crusoe and Moll

A Garden in Newington

The Queen Goes To The Toilet And Washes Her Hands

The Pillory (Dead Kittens)

Anyone in from Colchester?

A Tempest Off Great Yarmouth

Mary Goes To Nottingham


Bricks and Fire

Sophia and the Lip Reader

The Invention of the Guillotine

Robinson and the Moor


Also in memoriam, eighteen years ago today I took the bus up to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, to be told that the results of my scan were very encouraging and that by the end of my course of chemotherapy I should certainly expect to be free of the disease. Hodgkin's, that is. I remember the feeling very well, as I left the building and looked up at the blue spring sky.