Saturday 12 July 2014

Shorts: In praise of... Synonyms For Churlish


Is this it? Is this what we meant two years ago? Two years ago, when we were drunk on Three Kingdoms, doodling Sebastian Nübling’s name all over our jotters. Is this the beginning of the future that we imagined Three Kingdoms had started for us?”

“...You can imagine them, can’t you - on some critics’ away day, methodically recording Scrabble scores in a long-abandoned tournament while everyone else uses the letters to spell out TITWANK and CUMSHOT...


I’ve been thinking about Hepworth’s 1971 thing a fair bit during the last couple of days, because it’s dawned on me that when I’m 60 (in, ahem, 40-45 years or thereabouts…) I’m going to be sitting on my front step in a panama hat, shouting at passers-by that June 2014 was the best, the most consistent, the most visually and intellectually interesting 30 days of theatre London has ever seen... [And that’s] not including the panel discussion at the ICA in which Matt Trueman flew the flag for a generation of theatre critics that make my heart expand and pupils dilate and tears of love and excitement well up in my eyes.


My god. MY GOD.

Christopher Brett Bailey is Allan Ginsberg and Hunter S Thompson and Saul Williams and that big red-lipped mouth from Beckett’s Not I. He’s Josef K and Gregor Samsa. He’s Christian Slater in Heathers, he’s Tim Roth in Pulp Fiction, he’s Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers. He’s cinematic drugs like mescaline and peyote. He’s cigarettes. He’s the taste of cigarettes on a kiss. He’s the revolution that will not be televised. He’s your most fucked-up dream where it turns out the guy you’re fucking is made out of cold tapas meats. He’s Godspeed You Black Emperor. He’s Nine Inch Nails. He’s Aphex Twin in a bikini. He’s everything ever released on Sonic Cathedral. He’s a circular saw, blood spatter, crumbling teeth. He’s diabetes and a thyroid problem. He’s the sound of breaking bones.

He’s written a show about dying, in which he sits at a desk and talks for an hour, and which is absolutely positively what dying actually must really be like.

And let me tell you it is fucking incredible.


I could keep quoting for some time. Those are just the recent ones. Her Three Kingdoms review deserves the same status as Tynan’s Look Back in Anger. Higher, actually, since it’s also fun to read.

And, not that theatre criticism’s a competition or anything, but if it was, I think Megan Vaughan would have us all beat. Sure, the rest of us might offer a bit more by way of penetrating analysis, but how many reviews actually give you an impression of the adrenaline rush of actually falling fucking in love with a piece of theatre? Moreover, recently she’s started to become far and away the best chronicler of what’s turning into an extraordinary year for British theatre. I don’t always agree with her, but, Christ, it’s vital stuff.

So, yeah, voice of a generation, I reckon.

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