Skip to main content

Saved - Edward Bond

Fortuitously, I was able to get a ticket to see the last matinee performance of Edward Bond's play, Saved, at the Hammersmith Lyric. I first read the play text in 2004 and it left a strong impression - a baby being stoned in its pram in a scene of tormentingly rising violence and hatred had a lot to do with it. I felt that the vitriol the young men aimed at the infant was because it represented how they saw themselves: powerless, pitiable, pathetic. These south London 'youths' were disaffected, disengaged, and despicable. Pam, the daughter of parents who are in a long-term war of loaded silence, and the mother of the 'stoned' child, is suffering from either severe post-natal depression or a more complex, structuralist set of conditions and causes. I'm assuming the latter given Bond's leanings. As without, so within. The father, who speaks not a word until a good hour into this three hour play, is renowned stage actor Michael Feast. Yet to single one actor out would be unfair because the acting - especially from Calum Callaghan, who plays Len, who sees more than the others (literally too in that he witnesses the stoning of the baby). His facial expressions spoke loudly his states of being in such a dramatic, yet credible way. He had the 'sarf Londoner' to a tee.

What was also deeply engaging about this work was the dialogue - there was a quick-fired lyricism in the delivery of non-sequiturs and banters that was redolent of the stereotypical acerbic Liverpudlian humour. And the working-class linguistic cliches came thick and fast, which implies both the shared language, and their inability to think in a way that would let them use their own words instead of relying on shorthands.

It is, as critics have already been quick to pounce on, relevant for our times - Baby P, the opportunism of the August riots... One woman in the front row walked out.

This is an important play - not, for me about the suspect cause of 'original sin', which some of the Tory newspaper critics attributed it to - but because it is still shocking. Yet this is the play that, during its debut run at the Royal Court Theatre, was largely responsible for the abolition of theatre censorship. Bond, now 76 and long since a resident of Paris where he is considered in a light of greater esteem, is still as leftist, still as angry, still as sharp as he was all those years ago if recent interviews are anything to go by. I hope he stays that way for a long time to come.

Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

Booker Shortlist announced

It's been a while... I know. Dog walking on the Downs, a bit of theatre, a bit of baking, a bit of writing etcetera etcetera. I also managed to read two complete books in the past month, which I was so pleased about. I had not read a whole book for about a year. The first was A Lie About My Father by Scottish poet/writer, John Burnside; a very well written memoir about father and son, but like all memoirs, some unreliability I felt. Poignant and tragic in equal measure. Then my husband returned from Cyprus (too hot for me this time of year, I can barely cope with England!) with Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong. He loved it. And then I read it and also loved it. I had originally picked it up several years ago but didn't get beyond Amiens, where the first section is set, but was really glad I did this time around. Another incredibly well written book in the style of a good Victorian! I felt a bit unsure about bits of Elizabeth, in the later section, but I have never learnt so muc…

Good Canary

Forgot to mention that we went to see Good Canary at Kingston's Rose Theatre last week. Star role played by the brilliantly intense Freya Mavor, who plays a speed addict. It's directed by John Malkovich - his UK's theatre directorial debut. Will try and post more about it later.