He mentioned a couple of months ago that his first full-length stage play was going to be appearing at the Royal Court this spring (he’s previously had a couple of plays on Radio 4: Candy Floss Kisses, and Elevenses with Twiggy), but we managed to faff around until the first reviews started appearing in the national press. And good reviews they were, excepting that in the Torygraph, but I suspect that a hatchet job like that should be considered a badge of honour.
My feelings on the play are pretty favourable – he’s got a good ear for naturalistic dialogue, and an eye for the cultural observations (which is what comes of spending eight years in Aberdeen, I’d guess). I enjoyed his exploration of the nature of obsessive love, not least due to the underlying tension in POV; while we’re encouraged to see the world from the perspective of the ‘decent’ Keith, the absurdity of his actions keeps pulling us back to Shazza’s POV). I’m not sure that there is as much of a role reversal between the main protagonists as some critics have suggested. For us to treat a play with a clingy male and a self-centred female as anything out of the ordinary, we’d first have to completely buy into the stereotype of dominant man and submissive woman. There are some excellent set pieces in the play, but I wouldn’t necessarily count the protagonist’s encounters with the loan shark amongst them. They’re powerful scenes, but they pale compared to the scenes with the protagonist’s neighbour, which are both tender and very, very funny. I’m not sure that I’d describe the ending as bleak per se; there’s closure to Keith’s predicament, and the change in his mood in the last scene at least suggests that he has a certain peace of mind.
While the play isn’t autobiographical in the usual sense, the main events are derived from the experiences of people that he knew while he lived in Aberdeen (c.f. the inverted snobbish complaint of the Telegraph that it’s obviously not a world of which Simon has first-hand experience). As an added bonus, last night’s show was followed by a brief Q&A, which I found fascinating primarily because I got to hear the immediate reactions of people who didn’t know Simon.
In summary, I reckon the boy done good, and I’d recommend that folk see this while they have the opportunity. He’s now fretting about “second album syndrome”, of course, but I think that he has little to worry about on the basis of what I’ve seen.
So, over to
(finally, thanks to the wonderful