FIRST NIGHT: Sweet swansong for a partnership
A founder member of The Independent David Lister joined the paper in 1986 as Assistant Home Editor. He became the paper's arts correspondent in 1988 and is now Arts Editor and writes a column each Saturday. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Saturday 21 June 1997
Royal National Theatre
An era may possibly have ended at the National Theatre.
David Hare's new play, directed as so often by Richard Eyre, may be the last in a long series of works by the partnership which has formed such a long and influential chapter in the National's history.
Now Eyre is leaving; Hare has resigned as an associate director and the programme for this play contained what appeared to be a long and loving farewell essay by Hare to the venue he has been associated with for 21 years.
If this was Hare's swansong at the National, it was a brilliant and compelling one. Hare is still often starkly described as a political playwright. But after last night the label seems redundant unless accompanied by the words comic, poignant and searingly personal.
Dame Judi Dench, giving a towering performance, is an ageing actress. Samantha Bond, her daughter, partnered by an arrogant TV producer - vintage Late Show - is convinced that theatre is dead in an age of film and video.
Hare clearly enjoys wrestling with the battle between high and low culture. As Judi Dench's character points out: "It's always the death of the theatre, the death of the novel, the death of poetry ... somehow it's never the death of themselves. The death of television! The death of the journalist! I can't think why we never get those."
The play engages with much more than this, from financial hardship to violence in films. But beneath all these issues are the deeper strains of love and loss, and the relationship between mother and daughter over a 16-year period.
Dench and Bond have a chemistry on stage that enables them to switch in instants from broad comedy to devastating tenderness.
Hare dedicates this play to his wife, the fashion designer Nicole Fahri, with the words "pour toujours".
This mesmerising play will also last a very long time.
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Dad attempts revenge on teenage daughter, plan backfires spectacularly
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Isis 'throw man off a building for homosexual affair' and beat him to death when he survives
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...