Tom stoppard

Was Penelope really a ‘silenced’ woman?

Problems about the misuse of history, especially on subjects such as race and colonialism, have been running for a long time. But when it comes to the ancient world, there are also problems about the misuse of literature. Dame Mary Beard’s ‘manifesto’ Women and Power (2018) contains an example of the problem. Her thesis is that women’s voices in the public sphere (my emphasis) have been ‘silenced’ by men ever since the West’s first literature (Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey) gave us our first access to ‘western’ thoughts, deeds, beliefs, hopes and fears (c. 700 BC). The problem exists in the first example of her thesis, to which she returns four

Why wealth matters in the free speech debate

The divide between the rich and the poor is obvious in Britain today. Whether in terms of income, geography or political outlook, the cleavage between the haves and have-nots widens conspicuously. It has become a source of much snobbery and resentment. But there is another field in which this division can be witnessed, yet all too often goes ignored: free speech. Increasingly, the freedom to express your political opinions has become the privilege of the rich, while the poor – or even those on middle incomes – now fear to say what they like. This is especially the case when it comes to talking about gender, race and Brexit. So fearful of speaking

The show must go on: theatre to look forward to this year

With the vaccine rollout underway, the theatre world is betting on a triumphant return in the spring – and this time for good. If, like me, you can’t wait to get back to the West End, here are eight shows to book ahead for (whilst keeping your fingers firmly crossed for the vaccine rollout). Good Harold Pinter Theatre, 21 April – 17 July David Tennant returns to theatreland to take on the leading role in CP Taylor’s seminal play about a liberal-minded professor and dutiful husband who finds himself seduced by the rise of National Socialism in 1930s Germany. Once described as English theatre’s ‘definitive’ Holocaust play, Good is the

How Tom Stoppard foretold what we’re living through

A TV play by Tom Stoppard, A Separate Peace, was broadcast live on Zoom last Saturday. I watched as my screen divided itself into four cubes in which appeared the actors, performing from home. The play was written in 1964 and it’s well suited to the split-split screen format because no physical contact occurs between the characters. Director Sam Yates added some rudimentary music and a bit of wobbly background scenery. Mr Brown (David Morrissey) is a mysterious Englishman who asks to be admitted to a private hospital in the middle of the night. Though he has no symptoms he’s given a bed, and he pays his bills in cash.