About “Close-Up Magic”

Wednesday 16th November 2011

A Carpet, a Pony and a Monkey
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I have just received my copy of “Close-Up Magic”: 40 Years at the Bush Theatre, edited by Neil Burkey. This beautifully produced anniversary book is full of anecdotes, information and brilliant photographs of this marvellous West London venue, a place where I have seen some of the most moving and most exhilarating shows ever. Looking at the photographs, it’s amazing how many memories they provoke. The classic picture, for example, of Tracy Letts’s Killer Joe (1995), stirs in my memory the image of the family’s vulnerable daughter, Dottie, taking her clothes off, surely one of the most troubling and moving moments of the whole in-yer-face era. More recently, the book also challenges my poor short-term memory: I’m sure I had forgotten that Nicholas Tennant in Mike Packer’s A Carpet, A Pony and A Monkey (2002) came on stage with a St George’s cross painted on his face, a sure sign that this was a play as much about national identity as about male camaraderie. There are many other examples of beautiful moments in this excellent book, a lovely testament to 40 years of great play-making.

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