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A Play What He Wrote

February 23rd, 2003 | No Comments | Categories: Uncategorized |

Last night I went to the theatre (er, beginning to sound like a 12 year old writing his summer project – “we went on holidays and it was really good and then we went to the beach and it was really good and my dad fell in the sea and we all laughed and then my mum laughed so much she dropped her ice-cream and we all laughed but she wasn’t laughing any more because she said she had ice-cream on her best clothes and if daddy thought that was so funny…’ etc. etc. or, er, something like that)

Anyway, as I said. Theatre, Last night. Brilliant. Genius. Speechless.

The play in question was called ‘The Madness Of George Dubya’, and is apparently an update on Dr Strangelove (or at least that’s what the review in the Guardian said – I’ve never seen Dr Strangelove, so can’t really comment on the veracity of that… but I digress) – anyway, if it is an update, it’s an incredibly topical one. It was, in fact, written in three days in January, and rehearsed in 6, before beginning a sold out run at Theatro Technis in London, then moved on to The Pleasance Theatre in Holloway, London.

The story revolves around a gung-ho US general on an airbase in the UK, deciding to order an all out nuclear strike on Iraq, and being the only one who knows the code to call the order back, you’ve now got your suspence. However, the play revolves around the idiotic mumblings of the US president, and the pathetic attempts to solve the problem by our own prime ministerial buffoon, Blair. Throw into the mix Yasmina The Cleaner – an Al Quaeda operative working as a cleaner on the air-base, a couple of US pilots flying the first plane ordered to drop it’s payload (all the while discovering their long buried desires for eachother), some useless British civil servants, more US army generals and a breath-taking speech by an Iraqi Ambassador and you’ve got yourselves one of the most powerful, funny, moving, disturbing, remarkable theatrical performances I think I’ve ever seen.

Justin Butcher, the writer, has been carving a reputation for himself for a few years now – last year his play, The Seven White Masks Of Scaramouche Jones toured with Pete Possilthwaite delivering the one man show to sold out audiences round the UK. But Dubya is a whole other kind of triumph – it would have been impressive if he’d written it in 3 months. 3 days suggests some sort of pact with the devil in exchange for genius, or conversely an angelic visitation, complete with finished script. Truly unbelieveable. And on top of that, one of the most vital, vibrant and controversial comments on the current impending (pleasegoddontletithappen) war.

‘If’ they get another run at it, you would have to be stark staring mad to miss it. Already they’ve had coverage on CNN, in various US newspapers including the Chicago tribune, on MSNBC, 4 stars in the Guardian, 5 in What’s On, been in the Independent’s top 5 theatre shows in London for weeks on end. Seriously, it’s magical, you have to see it.

phew, that was exhausting. Tonight’s the last night – if you’re in London, you can catch it at either 5 or 7.30. But I’m certain it will get another run. It HAS to.

In other news, last night I was on nightshelter duty again (meant to be next week, but I swapped) – as was evil harv. He wasn’t meant to be, but while we were in the theatre, some sort of serious police ‘incident’ took place outside, and Harv’s car was in the cordoned off zone, and he was unable to move it til this morning!!! So the poor guy ended up sleeping in a freezing church hall on a couch… :o)

Came home, slept, got woken up about five times by the phone. One of the calls was telling me about the funeral details of a friend of mine who died of lukemia last week. I’m not sure what to think about that one. I didn’t even know he was ill til the day he died. 11am – a text saying was on life support. 3pm phone call saying he’d died. WTF???? What? Where? When? How? Andy was officially my land-lord when I live in Lincoln, but the house for most of that time was more like a live-in community. He was a fantastic cook, so we’d throw dinner parties fairly often, there were up to 5 of us living there at any one time – me, farmer Joe, DJ Ben, Biker Wendy… it was like some poorly scripted sit-com, with some very bizarre events. One favourite was Farmer Joe trying to make his own garlic bread, and misunderstanding the difference between a ‘clove’ of garlic and the whole bulb. So he crushed three whole bulbs of garlic, and put them on two slices of bread under the grill. The dogs were yowling for days. Ah yes, the dogs – Max and Polly. Insane and ever-present. Andy doted on them. He married Sharon just before I left Lincoln, and they’ve now got at least two kids (could be three, who knows). I can’t even begin to imagine how she must be feeling. He was only in his late 30s. Still officially a ‘youth’ (18-40). And now he’s gone. I can’t get to his funeral on Thursday – it’s in Lincoln and I’m already mad mad busy that day. But I’ll be thinking about him. About live on Richmond Road, dinner parties, mad dogs, video nights, trips to the pub, Dave Elcock at his wedding reception.

Last time I saw him was at Martin Clarke’s 40th birthday last year. he was smiling from ear to ear, telling me his news and looking remarkably pleased to see me. I wasn’t overly friendly with him (it’s always odd being back in groups of people from Lincoln – too much weirdness left there for me), but he was very eager to hear what I’d been up to and to tell me about his kids.

And now on a lighter note, tonight I’m going to see Muriel Anderson play at The Troubadour in Earl’s Court – lovely venue, I’m playing there myself at the end of March, and it’s where I recorded my first album! Muriel’s great, so I’m really looking forward to that one. If you’re going, I’ll see you there…

Soundtrack – been listening to a CD by Ollie Collins ‘Make Time Last’ – rather nice acid-jazz influenced layered bass and keys stuff, with some great sax playing. Before that, it was more of Michael Manring and I…

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