I’ve said it before and I’ll (probably have cause to) say it again: the political is the enemy of the creative. So it goes without saying that I agree with Sir Ronald Harwood’s recent comments on the state of British theatre. I don’t often go these days (my most recent expedition took me to Kenneth Branagh’s excruciatingly awful version of Osborne’s mediocre play, The Entertainer – but that’s another story for another time). When I do turn out and take one for the team, I usually come away feeling profoundly depressed.
And yes, I’m well aware that Branagh’s production wasn’t state-funded. Of course it wasn’t. Or at least not directly – but it breathed deeply of the miasma emanating from that particular swamp.
And it’s almost inevitable that state funding engenders certain insidious forms of deafness. Or worse, numbness.
Few of those making a tidy living at, say, The National Theatre, can even begin to imagine how exciting it might be to rebel against a tired and outdated consensus.
Sadly, it falls to marginalised artists with nothing to lose (and therefore, almost by definition, little influence) to point out that tiresome is as tiresome does.
There is a better way. No, really, Melvyn, there is.