My second effort Think of a Name For It has received a fantastic critique from Hanna Slattne at Tinderbox playhouse in Northern Ireland:
“A thoroughly enjoyable read of what should turn out to be a thoroughly enjoyable play to watch if you are lucky enough to get a production.”
I did pull out all the needles when I wrote this so I was delighted with the response:
“Very brave to take on this material; a hostage situation, a gun waving around and a bunch of fairly unlikeable anti-heroes stuck in a room together – yet it is all carried off with a delicious sense of underplay and irony that makes the play charismatic even if the characters in themselves are not.”
“This could have been a mess of a play – overwritten, bombastic and grounded in reality – instead it is the opposite. The characters are fresh and engaging whilst at the same time are world weary and apathetic; none of them are likeable, yet this just adds to the fun of watching them struggle with their existence and fears and loathings of each other. They snipe, joke, physically attack and banter with each other, try and discover some common truths and pretty much fail at every challenge – in the end they are self-serving and shallow yet they are also fully drawn and occupy individual depth within the context of the piece.”
Honestly, I didn’t write this critique, but that’s exactly what I intended to convey with Think of a Name For It.
“The theatricality comes from the excellent pace and interweaving of the dialogue – a very competent handling of the play that allows what action there is, back stories, narrative twists and revelations to emerge almost by accident as the characters are too busy arguing with each other and betraying their self-absorption to notice much else. Reading it is very much like being on one side of a window that opens into the souls of a very disparate and flawed bunch of people going about their lives, albeit in somewhat extreme circumstances.”
“The story is told in a breathless rush that begins on page one and continues unabated to the last page but the rhythms and tidal flows of emotion give the nuances and breathing spaces necessary to keep everything palatable.”
So where am I with it now?
“All new plays would benefit from rewrites in the light of external criticism or observation and this one is no exception but it works very well as stands – it has a big heart and a lot of ambition yet doesn’t get carried away with itself. Rewrites will tighten the scenes and tease out some of the themse but (as a writer) I wouldn’t bother doing them until you get to pre-rehearsal discussions with an Artistic Director or Dramaturg – the play speaks for itself and deserves a performance.”