(Mark Lawson’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/22.)
Famous playwrights are traditionally honoured with productions to mark big birthdays or anniversaries of key plays. However, the theatrical establishment did nothing to acknowledge Edward Bond reaching 80 in 2014, nor was there a revival to mark the passing last year of five decades since the electrifying premiere of Saved, his tragedy about disaffected youth. And although Bond’s Bingo is probably the best biographical play about Shakespeare, it failed to feature in the epic death quadricentennial commemorations by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC.
So is Bond bitter about his treatment by British theatre? “No!” he insists. “I’m far too busy.”
In Rome, there is a new production of Lear, his 1971 variation on Shakespeare, and another work from the same period, The Sea – a weird comedy of beachside goings-on – has become a hit at the Comédie-Française in Paris. Currently, Bond is working with the composer Laura Jayne Bowler on an opera based on his playEarly Morning – censored in 1968 for depicting Queen Victoria as a cannibal lesbian in love with Florence Nightingale – and is directing Dea at the Secombe theatre in Sutton, his first play (apart from pieces for teenagers) to be premiered in the UK for two decades.