Wednesday 26 November 2008

now or later

The most arresting line in David Hare's Gethsemane is a piece of reported speech. The Home Secretary, Meredith, is discussing her daughter Suzette's views, about asylum seekers and refugees, with her political advisor, Lori.

MEREDITH. Suzette says, 'Mum, it isn't a question of "They're poor and we're rich." It's "They're poor because we're rich." And if you can't see that, you can't see anything.'

Meredith doesn't see this, she says she can't see this (she doesn't have time), and the play doesn't pursue the point. But it's this area, the connection between our lives, here, and other lives, elsewhere, that would also be central to any drama that dealt with climate change.

A playwright who has a thrilling sense of how the world is connected is Christopher Shinn . His latest play Now or Later takes place on election night. The central character is John ('20, white') and his father is about to become President of the United States. A story has surfaced on several obscure blogs that John went to a student party dressed as Muhammad. (There were reasons for this.) As the play develops, this gossip spreads across the internet and John's father and his campaign team become increasingly fearful about the backlash in other countries (riots, death threats).

The play takes place in a hotel room, in real time, but it conveys a strong sense of the causal links (the because) that connect actions in one place with consequences in another. In that respect, it offers something of a model.

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