Only Joking, By Gabriel Josipovici

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The Independent Culture

Gabriel Josipovici's dialogue-based narrative recalls Ivy Compton-Burnett and the clever way she made action happen entirely through speech. Here, Josipovici is playing with the power of the oral/aural, as one character after another spins a greater tale to become fully entangled in their own webs.

The Baron asks his chauffeur, Felix, to provide him with a good detective to tail his wife, Elspeth, whom he suspects is having an affair and plotting to kill him. Felix engages Alphonse, a former clown, who is already working for Elspeth. Alphonse engages Natasha, an art student, to work for him and live in his flat; she is working for her former fiancé, Charlie, as they plan to steal a valuable work of art from Giles, the wealthy son-in-law of the Baron... and so we come full circle.

Very little happens that we see: what we get is people talking about it. In the 21st-century age of visual communication (emails, texts), as opposed to the 20th-century history of oral communication (the telephone, the wireless), it is interesting that this battle between the two forms is still unresolved.

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