Success in the Theatre 101
Do I now have your attention?
My loyal reader may remember the discouraging advice I received from my agent a few months back, regarding play scripts: no money to be made, and the only plays people are interested in are those that address difficult contemporary themes. Reading reviews of the National Theatre’s current production of Cleansed I now absolutely see her point. Totes.
Cleansed was written and first produced in the Eighties so it has a long history of audiences walking out or, if their legs won’t carry them to the bar, fainting in their seats. Now, long after its author Sarah Kane committed suicide, it has been resuscitated by the National. The production has been praised as ‘unflinching’. Also as ‘remarkable’ – one of those words like ‘interesting’ which one can safely use when one might otherwise be dumbstruck by the sheer awfulness of someone’s artistic creation. One critic (I think for Time Out) described it as ‘savagely beautiful’. So you probably wouldn’t want a blind date with him.
There is a valuable lesson for me here. My play omitted even a hint of genital mutilation. No-one got electrocuted or raped, anally or elsewhere. My very few wardrobe notes didn’t call for balaklavas, nor did my general remarks advise having St John’s Ambulance cadets on standby to deal with shocked and nauseated punters. In brief, I was still living in a daydream world where people go to the theatre for a good chuckle or a weep. What a fule!
By now I must surely have whetted your appetite to go see Cleansed. Well hurry, hurry, hurry, because it’s already sold out for March. A good stalls seat will cost you 40 quid but you might have just as much fun for less outlay sitting in the Understudy Bar waiting for the casualties to crawl in. I can just hear it now.
I’ll have a double brandy. And the next time I say I fancy seeing Guys and Dolls, we’ll go and see Guys and Dolls.
Well, of COURSE. Genital mutilation. Why didn’t I think of that?