Save drama for theatre productions not politics and public life - Yvette Huddleston

Our columnist prefers drama in theatre productions - not public life. Do you agree?
Our columnist prefers drama in theatre productions - not public life. Do you agree?

So, things appear to have taken a bit of a Shakespearean turn of late, don’t they?

Although, I think it’s fair to say that even the Bard, known for his sometimes over-the-top flights of fancy, may have baulked at some of the plot-lines currently playing out around us. Imagination is one thing, but stretching the bounds of credulity is another.

To be honest, I think I probably prefer my drama to be contained within the parameters of a theatre production, however edgy, challenging and off-the-wall it may be, rather than spilling in to every aspect of public life.

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Since it feels much of the time as though we are living in some sophisticated live action immersive theatrical event, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell where reality ends and fantasy begins.

This is reflected in our collective inner conundrum of whether to laugh or cry, or, indeed, do both at the same time. The machinations of those in power have for some time been on the scale of an elaborate Jacobean epic with enough back-stabbing, Machiavellian manoeuvring and irredeemable nastiness to keep an academic conference of early Elizabethan theatre scholars very happy.

Politics is, of course, essentially all about performance, especially these days – and, without naming names, there are plenty of good ‘actors’ out there who, however stilted and implausible their delivery, seem able to convince enough people of their ‘authenticity’ to gain support.

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Some of the reviews are not looking too favourable, however. Bumbling incompetence is never a good look and so-called charm only goes so far when a performance has no real depth or substance.

All this makes me angry because I’m a firm believer that the arts is essential to our wellbeing. If drama is hijacked by a bunch of charlatans pretending to be public servants (there are some honourable exceptions, I hasten to add), where is the respite? How do we escape from the unremitting awfulness of it all?

Talking of dark dystopian scenarios, it was announced this week that Margaret Atwood’s novel The Testaments, the follow-up over 30 years later to her seminal work The Handmaid’s Tale, has made it on to the Booker shortlist.

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The book isn’t published until next week but early reviews suggest that it may not be quite as bleak as its predecessor and even offers some hope (the Guardian described it as ‘a rallying cry for activism’). To quote the sustaining phrase that Atwood’s protagonist Offred found so helpful – Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.