Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Play's The Thing

Did you see the first episode of The Play's The Thing on Channel Four last night? It's their hunt for a brand new writer, with the winner of a Pop Idol-style contest getting their play staged in the West End.

Because writing doesn't make great TV (What are you going to show? Typing? Tea-making? Lying awake at night?) the focus is on the panel - made up of a producer, an agent and an actor. No writer on the panel, of course.

The Guardian's Nancy Banks-Smith liked it.
You were irresistibly reminded of that scene in The Producers, where Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom are demolishing skyscrapers of scripts in the hope of finding one new play guaranteed to fail. And, suddenly, there it is. A sure-fire, deckle-edged, copper-bottomed flop. Springtime for Hitler. A gay romp with Adolf and Eva. Leo: "Wow! This won't run a week." Max: "A week! This play is guaranteed to close on page four!"

The Play's the Thing (Channel 4) is an unexpected treat at this time of year. Funny, touching and instructive. A producer, Sonia Friedman, an actor, Neil Pearson, and a literary agent, Mel Kenyon, are wading through 2,000-odd plays - some odder than others - by unknown writers. The winning play will be produced in the West End.

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