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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine