Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bite-sized plays

As a thirty-minute Beckett (Eh Joe) opens in the West End, Dominic Maxwell in The Times looks at the pressures on playwrights to keep it brief.
The fun-sized dramacule could become the art form of the future. As Tom Stoppard admitted on Radio 4 last week, the thing for a playwright to aspire to these days is the compact 90-minutes-straight-through show in the style of Art. And once we get over this whole value-for-money neurosis — Eh Joe’s producers have tried to deal with this by making tickets half the usual West End prices — we’re free to admit that it’s a rare play that wouldn’t benefit from some snips. Savage snips in many cases. And if the purists demur at hacking out 80 per cent of Hamlet to get it down to sitcom length, fine, what’s wrong with seeing an extract instead? Offer a Hamlet of sheer excitement: the show’s breakout hit, the “To be or not to be” soliloquy, followed by a rousing swordfight with Fortinbras. Here in iPodworld, who’s got time for more than that?

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