BSC Address

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Lovely to see such good performances all round in TIME AND THE CONWAYS last night at the National. My ignorance is so great that I didn't know Hattie Morahan but what a wonderful actress she is to watch. And there's a beautifully judged performance from Paul Ready. So enjoyable to see high quality period acting from so many people.

But 'eee, Mr Priestley ain't 'arf a gloomy bugger!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009



“A startling, haunting, beautifully staged production”

Telegraph and Argus, Bradford

Well done all!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Darling's new tax rate won't work. It never has. When Nigel Lawson made his historic reduction of the higher tax rate from 60% to 40%, the Treasury ended up taking more money in tax, not less. Those earning high salaries didn't need to pay their accountants so much money to find ways of avoiding paying the tax - they just paid it.

The same will happen this time. Darling won't accrue the tax he predicted. It's not serious politics, it's backward thinking pandering to the uninformed and makes the Treasury look foolish. All energies should be concentrated in helping the low paid (such as bringing back the 10% tax band which should never have been abolished) and encouraging the rest - everything else is window dressing.


I've never been convinced by the scene in TWELTH NIGHT when Malvolio forces himself to smile, even though I saw Derek Jacobi do it so well in the West End recently.

It's always seemed to me to be improbable that someone - anyone - wouldn't instinctively know how to smile. But as always, whenever you doubt the Bard's genius for understanding human behaviour, he proves you wrong.

Gordon Brown's appearance on Youtube to announce his new expenses proposal for Parliament is extraordinary. Here is a man who doesn't know how to smile - doesn't know what smiling means - doesn't understand when it is appropriate. He smiles - and smiles - and looks totally bonkers. Even Sir Derek couldn't do it better.

Did Shakespeare know someone like Brown in Elizabethan times? My bet is that he did.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Britain's Got Talent

The nation is shocked: a not-pretty woman can sing!

Whatever next?!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


There's long been a suspicion that the proscenium arch of the standard venue is an outmoded form for modern theatre. This week I've seen two shows which were staged out of the proscenium - DANCING AT LUGHNASA and STOVEPIPE. LUGHNASA is in the Old Vic's in-the-round configuration and STOVEPIPE is a promenade piece using the basement of W12 shopping centre.

I've long subscribed to director Graeme Messer's view that the test of a good show is whether is takes you out of your seat and into the world created by the show: in essence, do you feel you left the building?

Two of my favourite theatres are in the round - the Tobacco Factory in Bristol and the St James Cavalier in Malta. So there's no doubt it can work wonderfully well. But in LUGHNASA's case, the performance space seemed cramped and exposed and unable to conjour up rural Ireland in the 1930's. Both the shows I saw this week, while apparently free of proscenium constraints, seemed stubbornly grounded by the space's inabillity to transport us away from our surroundings. In my view neither show was able to properly create its own world, partly because the world was heavily intruded upon by the audience, which kept reminding you that you were only watching a play.

Successful as they've both been, I have a feeling I'd have more chance of entering their respective worlds if they'd been properly separated from the audience. I left both shows thinking there's still a strong case for saying the pros arch is a pretty perfect way of presenting drama.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Madame de Sade

It was great to go backstage after seeing Madame de Sade this week.

I just wish someone had told me I had humous on my nose!!