In the absence of anything else to do during the early days of 2008 the Whingers have been looking around the Internet at other people’s sites (something they never normally bother doing) and have found some quite extraordinary things. Really, you should try this Internet thing. It’s outrageous.
Billington and Bond
First up is Mr Billington’s interview with Edward Bond for The Guardian in which the artistically exiled playwright lashes out at, well, everyone whose name comes up.
Poor Mr Billington innocently brings up a comparison once made between Edward Bond and Bertolt Brecht. Bond rages away:
“My argument against Brecht, whose theatre was based in East Berlin, was, ‘How could you work in that hell?’ It was an absolute betrayal of the duty of the writer. Brecht also wanted us to forget the individual and think about the type or the situation. The man is lethal. You really do have to examine the logic of your position, which is why I call Brecht ‘the playwright of Auschwitz’. His arguments lead straight to the death camps.”
“This strikes me as an outrageous assertion,” remarks Mr Billington but as he does not record Bond’s response to this opinion we must assume that he just thought it and didn’t say it. Indeed, one pictures Mr Billington sitting very, very still in his chair and trying not to make any sudden moves.
Before I go [backing away very slowly?], I ask Bond the question he himself puts in Shakespeare’s mouth, towards the end of his life, in his magnificent play, Bingo: “Was anything done?” Bond ruminates for a long time, and says quietly: “Not enough. Not enough. It’s exactly like Newton walking on the shore and saying, ‘I might have done this little thing but that great ocean of knowledge was beyond me.’ I can’t even say that I’ve done what Newton did.
Goodness. Imagine the bitterness and disappointment of leading a life which hasn’t achieved as much as that of Sir Isaac Newton. Doesn’t bear thinking about.
Anyway, talking of barking mad, the Whingers stumbled across this fabulously incoherent review of Hairspray on the New Statesman website by someone called Brian Coleman (“The leading London Tory gives his often outrageous take on life, politics and key issues of the day” apparently) which is a “must read” for anyone who thinks theatre critics are useless. Actually, don’t bother reading it. Here’s a summary:
I used to go to the theatre a lot but I don’t now because I’m a member of the Greater London Assembly. I went to see Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre which I like because it’s in my constituency. Did you know that theatre tickets cost £60 and programmes cost £6?* That’s too expensive.* The theatre owners want the GLA to introduce a surcharge on theatre tickets to reduce the queues for the ladies.That would make it even more expensive, wouldn’t it? The theatres should charge the producers more. There were also queues for the mens. The show was loud and Michael Ball wasn’t in it and his understudy reminded me of Danny La Rue. Mel Smith didn’t seem to be enjoying himself. The only person really acting was Tracie Bennett. I didn’t like the set and it broke down and that has happened three times apparently! The chorus boys were ugly but Ben James-Ellis was pretty even though he was sweating! But what I really objected to was that children were allowed to see a show which deealt with serious social issues. In fact, I’m so determined to be outrageous on this point that I felt sorry for the girl next to me who wouldn’t know who Eddie Fisher is even though she was texting on her mobile phone which I didn’t like. There was a joke about Rock Hudson so only gay men will enjoy this show. Worst of all, it ended happily. If all shows are like this then there shouldn’t be a surcharge on West End tickets.
Outrageous! Indeed, what an outrageous take on life, politics and key issues of the day! But is there room for another outrageous blog?
* Actually, it’s worth looking up Coleman on Wikipedia which says that in July 2007 he was criticised by Ken Livingstone for spending £10,000 on taxi fares from 1st April 2006 to 30th March 2007, compared to the average figure for a London Assembly member of around £845. This period coincided with the six months that Coleman was banned from driving. Apparently, he ran up taxi expenses of a more modest £1,740 in the period 1st April 2007 to 31st August 2007 but even so that accounted for one third of all cab expenses for the Mayor and 25 GLA members.