On grey drama

Thursday 11th March 2010

Really Old, Like Forty Five. Photo: Johan Persson
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Although the story of the week seems to be Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, I can’t do any better than the West End Whingers, who have definitively rechristened it Paint Never Dries. So I won’t say any more about that. However, a couple of other shows that I’ve seen recently prompted me to think about the perils of contemporary history, or how definite statements are no sooner said out loud than they become out of date. In a lecture — called Blasted and After: New Writing in British Theatre Today — that I recently gave for the Society for Theatre Research, I confidently listed a range of subjects that British playwrights have recently failed to address. That list included the comment that “Old people were rarely of interest to young playwrights”. No sooner said than out of date: not only is Tamsin Oglesby’s Really Old, Like Forty Five — a play about ageing — now running at the National, but I’ve just seen Douglas Maxwell’s Promises, Promises, a monologue about a retired Scottish teacher that is touring the country. Doubtless, there will now be a score of other plays about old people…

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