Reviewed by J.D.R. for The Croydon Advertiser
Ideas sunk by verbiage
Had it lasted for half an hour I might have sung its praises.
As it was, whatever merit Alan Clarke and Marian Cope’s exploration of ideas entitled “In flagrant delight” may have had was submerged in the boredom of dialouge extended to one and a half hours without the benefit of dramatic structure or development.
“In flagrante delicto” implies burning passionate delight. perhaps this was intended ironically in the face of such inteleectualised dialogue. Oh how I longed to be witness instead to a positive and passionate theatrical experience.
The extended programme notes contain the following lines “…people in modern art fields have used a static image (enter Warhol). Can the static image be a part of a play … even if it created boredom, could not that be a means to an end? Does the end justify its use? Could it be used without an end, purely as an end in itself? As a static gesture perhaps.”
On the evidence of this piece, my answer would be an emphatic “No.” Andy Warhol’s work does indeed make use of boredom, but his images are strong enough in themselves to create a positive impact.
The situation of the play had links with comment on the current Warhol exhibition. Two characters have alone been invitedto preview an exhibition consisting of two swings, a blackboard, and a few small items such as a clock and a pair of shoes. The man is desperately concerned to understand the symbolism of the exhibits, while the girl is readier to accept them as themselves – a swing is for swinging on.
Although the opening dialogue was superfluous as it was never integrated into the action, I was interested and amused for the first 40 minutes. The touches of humour were good enough for one to have wished for more. I admired the transition from naturalistic dialogue to the surreal situation of the man and the girl each being projections of the other’s imagination, and the insolubility of the problem as to which was real and which unreal, since each thought precisely as the other, though each existed separately.
These changes back and forth were handled with skill, and the two players-cumauthors worked together throughout with a subtly contrasted unity.
“I no longer believe in scripted plays AT ALL PER SE,” proclaims a programme note. I too accept that improvisations around a play or theme can be valid, albeit with a different validity from that of the original play. This production pinpointed all that is amiss with the rejection of scripted plays. If it had been the starting point from which a concise half-hour play had been written for later performance, we might at a later date have had a play worth watching.