Heritage, Nostalgia and Modern British Theatre: Staging the by Benjamin Poore

By Benjamin Poore

The level portrayal of the Victorians lately is a key reference element in figuring out notions of Britishness, and the profound politicisation of that discuss over the past 4 many years. This book throws new gentle on works via canonical playwrights like Bond, Edgar, and Churchill, linking theatre to the broader tradition at huge.

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Additional resources for Heritage, Nostalgia and Modern British Theatre: Staging the Victorians

Example text

24 Staging the Bad Old Days 27 Reading Early Morning as Marxist critique However, how might the play have been received by theatre audiences in 1968–9? First, the play can be said to be amenable to a Marxist, or at least class-based, interpretation, attacking the present-day society of unbridled consumption (and presumably laying the blame for this at the feet of the Victorians). In this interpretation, Bond shows a society riven with conflict and competition, featuring the formation of secret pacts and a paranoiac fear of the enemy within, and the urge to possess more than everyone else, and possess it first.

The context behind Alec McCowen’s successful 1984 West End solo show Kipling: East and West is investigated in the light of the then recent Falklands Conflict and notions of a resurgent nationalism as Margaret Thatcher began her second term as prime minister. The interest in biodramas about music hall performers – Marie Lloyd in particular – is then analysed, and interpreted as a development of the 1970s agit-prop theatre movement’s interest in the Victorian age. Developing the previous chapter’s theme of biodrama, Chapter 5 considers the uses to which Charlotte Brontë’s life story and her novel Jane Eyre have been put since the 1970s.

Early Morning is a dark fantasy in which quondam Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and Prince Albert are plotting a military coup against Queen Victoria, while her son George, who is the Siamese twin of Arthur, is about to marry Florence Nightingale. Len, possibly the same character who features in Bond’s earlier play Saved, is tried by Victoria for eating a man who pushed in front of him while he was queuing to see a film, Policeman in Black Nylons. Victoria rapes Florence, and as the coup begins, Victoria poisons and strangles Albert, and George is shot.

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