The phrase that came to me at the interval was, “a rehearsed idea”. It was as if the author had had what he thought was a good idea but had not really been able to grasp it, hold on to it and form it. Like a sculpture that's only perfect when still encased in a solid block of stone and how ever you hack it out it will never be quite right.
I’m not sure that it is an entirely accurate assessment of the play and certainly owes too much to my desire to do flowery writing. My interval thought was partially inspired by the director’s description, in the programme, of the play’s long gestation and many revisions. I have a, probably unwarranted, suspicion that the more something has to be revised (and heavily revised) the more likely it is, not to work. Seeing the first half of the play hadn’t helped, there was a story, certainly, but the cast seemed just to going through well-worn arguments as if following them in a diagram. It wasn’t that it was badly written it was more under-written as if the author hadn’t ever become interested in his characters.
I thought there were some good touches, the way that the injured soldier and his wife used careful language to lead the journalist to the wrong but desired conclusion and the incoherence of another soldier seeking to tell the truth. However the idea of making the injured soldier into a hero with the use of topless pictures of his wife didn’t make sense to me. It felt like it was only there to justify the title of the play
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