Friday, March 20, 2009

The Last Cigarette - Chichester

I'm not sure that a stage version of The Last Cigarette really works, except to draw attention to the diaries themselves.

Sadly I found Felicity Kendall - although delightful - was a major distraction from the grumpy, cantankerous, decidedly not always delightful Mr Simon Gray. His voice did come through clearly in some parts and those were by far the best. At other times he seemed to be lost somewhere in between the three actors portraying him. Another distraction was the problem of having three actors on stage with very little to do except deliver dialogue. Elaborate moving around of chairs and almost-lighting of cigarettes only drew attention to this. The one point at which there is some real action - when Simon turns on himself violently after getting his diagnosis - had all the more impact as a result.

For a work that so directly confronts the issue of death the ending was oddly vague. Inevitably the diaries themselves couldn't provide any sort of closure here but a play could have. I especially regretted that the two major ironies of Simon Gray's life; that his fame most likely will rest on his diaries rather than on the plays he felt were his life's main work, and that he did not, in fact, die of the lung cancer that appeared to be his inevitable fate but of another illness altogether, were not alluded to at all.

To provide that much of a step back from the content of the diaries themselves might have given more of a context to this life story. As it was I was left remembering the last play I saw at Chichester, Six Characters in Search of an Author, and the Father's insistance that, because of their context within the structure of a play, characters have a more immutable reality than real people and real lives do.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Idea for a story No.452

Maybe we live to sleep each night and dream, and when we die we spend eternity in the dream world we have built.

Why write?

To find out
what you would write
if you did.