The play’s the thing – and now you can vote for your favourite

I’m finding the biggest problem to be the difficulty of dividing play from production

Share

English Touring Theatre have set audiences a tricky conundrum this autumn: you’re invited to head to their website and pick your favourite play. They plan to tour the most popular ones next year, rights permitting. In theory, this is a great chance to hunt through our memories and pick out the plays we love the most. But it’s not as easy as that.

Firstly, they have limited the choice to English language plays, which leaves Hamlet and All My Sons in the running, but immediately removes my favourite: Euripides’ Medea (please don’t write to social services: I don’t have children). So if you are a fan of Ibsen, Lorca, Chekhov or Brecht, that’s too bad.

Secondly, they have wisely made it a vote for our favourite plays rather than the ones we think are best. It would be hard to argue that the big Alans (Ayckbourn, Bennett and Plater) are better playwrights than Shakespeare, but easy to admit to preferring them.

Lists of “the best” anything – plays, films, books – tend to include longevity as a criterion: Citizen Kane has stood the test of time to become a classic, which can’t be said (yet) for your favourite movie from 2012. So one of the advantages of picking favourite recent hits like Enron, Jerusalem or Chimerica is they will have a good chance of being performed alongside Sheridan and Marlowe.

But I’m finding the biggest problem to be the difficulty of dividing play from production. I once saw a version of Dario Fo’s Archangels Don’t Play Pinball (ineligible for this, thankfully) which ran to 150 minutes. Two-and-a-half hours of farce is a good two hours more than I can tolerate, and I have never forgiven the play for the bloody awful evening it once gave me. But on the other hand, I was lucky enough to see Kathleen Turner, left, in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and I have never come close to forgetting how extraordinary she was. I’m certain I value the play so highly because the first performance I saw was so good.

So, how to pick a favourite play from hundreds of years and several continents? I think I may need an interval drink before I decide.

Fashion guru versus reality

Vivienne Westwood tells us that we’re all buying too many clothes, which seems ungrateful as I’m pretty sure that’s how she pays her bills. She’s especially concerned with poor people who “should be even more careful”. She goes on to advise: “Instead of buying six things, buy one thing that you really like.”

It’s hard to imagine a more condescending attitude. Perhaps she doesn’t know that six things from H&M or Topshop would still be vastly cheaper than one thing from the Vivienne Westwood collection, beautiful as her clothes are. Perhaps she doesn’t realise that people who have jobs might need more than one thing to wear each week at work. They might need, say, six things – one for each day, and a spare.

And since the fashion industry is predicated on convincing people that last year’s clothes aren’t good enough, she’s on shaky ground criticising those who believe it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: When is a baroness not a baroness? Titles still cause confusion

Guy Keleny
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower