07 October 2013

Review: Caustic Comedies by Robert Shearman

Hardcover, 310 pages
Published 2010 (contents: 1992-2001)

Acquired October 2011
Read December 2013
Caustic Comedies: Plays For The Stage
by Robert Shearman

This collects seven stageplays by Robert Shearman, a dramatist of some repute, or so I've heard, though I primarily know him for the very highbrow reason that he's written a lot for Doctor Who. It's all pretty good, as good as reading a stageplay can be, I suppose. Some of these I like the concept more the execution ("Knights of Plastic Armour," about a group of obsessed historical re-enactors), but it's my supposition that good actors would be doing enough with this material to make it come alive. If I have a favorite, it's "Fool to Yourself," about a married couple who go to the hotel where they first met in an attempt to rekindle their relationship, only their older selves meet and start falling in love with the past version of their spouses... whoops. I also really liked "Inappropriate Behaviour," about a minister and a woman who bump into each other at key life moments, and "Shaw Cornered," about George Bernard Shaw after his death.

Fans of Rob Shearman's Doctor Who work will notice some themes from his Doctor Who work (particularly, Punchline, The Chimes of Midnight, Jubilee): repetition, emotionally disconnected spouses, women purposefully acting a bit dim for their men, Martin Jarvis. Also "Shaw Cornered" reminds one somewhat of the Mozart story Shearman wrote for 100 (as far as its general concerns go, not in its plot).

The title is a bit weird. "Caustic" is less wide-ranging than the book actually is, and "comedies"... well, I guess so, but there's so much more going on than jokes.

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