Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Every Good Boy Deserves to See This Show

Or, In Praise of: Tom Stoppard

Last week, as JC was away, I headed to the National Theatre to spend a tenner on just over an hour's world-class (TM VL) entertainment.

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour was amazing. It'll be one of those shows that I forget I've seen, and then remember again with a whoosh of emotion (like Three Days of Rain); one that I perhaps enjoy the more I think about it afterwards rather than while I'm in the theatre itself; one that'll certainly stay with me for a long time.

You can read my review of the show here on londonist

I was already a big fan of Tom Stoppard. (He wrote my favouritest film, Shakespeare in Love, afterall.) As usual, I know I'm not the one who's just noticed he's amazing. But all the same, I totally love this piece about him in The Telegraph, where he's described wonderfully, as "as brooding and handsome as ever."  He's called "cerebral and autodidactic but not, he protests, academic even though his plays are studied in universities." It's a fantastically well-written piece by Nigel Farndale.

Here are a few tasty quotes:
"Few contemporary playwrights have a style so distinctive that their surname enters the language as an adjective. There’s Pinteresque and Stoppardian and, well, that’s about it. Stoppardian seems to mean dealing with philosophical concepts in a witty, ironic and linguistically complex way, usually with multiple timelines and visual humour."
Sir Tom's favourite plays?:
"I wouldn't deny you an answer, but I don't have favourites. I would say Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Arcadia and the one I am writing now, which I haven't started."
I like that quote. It reminds me of SiL:
Marlowe: I thought your play was for Burbage.
Joe Fiennes: This is a different one.
Marlowe: A different one you haven't written?
And, back to that Telegraph piece, this wonderful discussion about the nature of intelligent, intellectual entertainment: 
Sir Tom reckons you can "miss the laugh" in two polar ways. "You can miss it by giving the audience too much information, so they have no work to do, or you can miss it by not giving them enough.

"This applies to every line, so it is not a generality about how oblique, or opaque, or transparent the play ought to be. It is a moment-to-moment decision you are making when you are writing the play, rehearsing it and acting it. The perfect play is when the audience has to reach to pick it up."
What a perfectly delicious turn of phrase. It actually makes my mouth water. Yum.

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