LEADERS OF THE PACK / The fathers of invention: Play Of The Year
Sunday 19 December 1993
You could also describe Stoppard's Arcadia as a throwback: a high comedy of ideas of the kind he was writing 20 years ago. Since then, in pieces like The Real Thing, he had been striving with some success to turn himself into an ordinary playwright. Arcadia marks the end of this detour and a return to what he does best. Shutting his ears to all the voices urging him to develop a social conscience and show his heart, Stoppard has abandoned the dutiful pursuit of important themes and regained contact with his unfettered talent. Other people can write about love and current affairs. Only Stoppard can devour half a dozen seemingly unrelated subjects and set the ideas dancing in a comic world where insight and laughter are inseparable. You did not get the whole piece in one go; but not since Waiting for Godot has there been such a rush for playscripts.
For the reputation of new English writing, this was a good year for Stoppard's comeback. There has been no shortage of well-written, small-subject studio pieces (the Bush, in particular, has been on a winning streak). But as for main-house shows, virtually the only passable offerings were Ayckbourn's Time of My Life, an intricate, self-destroying machine that choked the laughter in your throat, and The Absence of War, the last and weakest part of David Hare's institutional trilogy. Otherwise, the best work was all American: August Wilson's The Piano Lesson, Arthur Miller's The Last Yankee,
David Mamet's Oleanna and Tony Kushner's Perestroika. At least we can be glad that good plays are still coming from somewhere.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 Chelsea victory parade: Chelsea mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
- 3 US warned by Chinese media to stop meddling or 'war will be inevitable'
- 4 Woman, 21, dies after taking contraceptive pill that 'caused fatal blood clot'
- 5 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
The New York Times sparks criticism after releasing an all-white reading list
Glastonbury lineup 2015: The Women's Institute to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people