About Gethsemane

Wednesday 3rd June 2009

Nicola Walker and Jessica Raine in Gethsemane. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Uninspired by London theatre at the moment, I’ve turned my attention to the best spectator sport in the world: British politics. And what a dramatic time it is to watch the news. Every day, a new eye-opening revelation. Every day, a new heart-stopping resignation. Every day, something to talk, and argue, about. And to laugh at. Once the radicals told truth to power; now, they just grimace at its lies. At some moments, I must say that I do feel a bit sorry for Gordon Brown: he longed so much for power and, when he got it, he squandered it in a mess of mistakes. Almost a tragedy. But only almost. In fact, the picture of politics played out in front of us this week is composed of highly typical elements, as in personal ambitions, empty rhetoric and good intentions. Above all, a failure to do the right thing. It all sounds very familiar. Where have I heard all this before? Oh, yes, in David Hare’s Gethsemane (National). When it opened in November 2008, this drama was derided as being out-of-date. Watching politics this week, it is clear that the opposite is true. Hare shows a historical moment when it is impossible to do the right thing. Yes, that’s us. In this moment. Now.

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