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77

[Scene: The Teviot Library Bar.]

Tychy: I say barman, there’s a problem with this pint.

Barman: Oh no, what’s wrong?

Tychy: I asked for a pint of Guinness with a drop of blackcurrant in to take the edge off, but this is instead a pint of blackcurrant juice with a drop of Guinness in it.

Barman: I don’t understand. What’s wrong with that?

Tychy: You don’t understand?

Barman: No, what’s the problem?

Tychy: I’ll explain by way of a metaphor. You’ll remember nedsblunt’s production of “Let It Fall (After King Lear)” which played at the Assembly George Square studios a couple of Fringes back?

Barman: Why, of course! An excellent show!

Tychy [sharply]: You thought so?

Barman: Yes, although I never managed to find out who nedsblunt were.

Tychy: They looked like an independent theatre company, but they had actually arrived from the Harrodian School in London. Another high school venture disguised as adult theatre. You expect their play to be predominantly Shakespeare, just as I expected this pint to be predominantly Guinness, but it turns out that this is Shakespeare without the writing… which is kind of the point of Shakespeare! It reflects the bareness of the Bard’s original sources: we have the story and some of the original characters, but none of the majesty of Shakespeare’s words! It’s infuriating!

Barman: Oh dear, you do sound upset.

Tychy: You’ll remember that in this play Lear becomes Leah, a demented old lady, and her two greedy daughters have stolen all her money. It reduces timeless tragedy to a contemporary issues-based drama about care for the elderly. Add to this an unnecessary spectacle in which Leah brandishes a gun and a horrifically misjudged impersonation of a “street” youth, and the Guinness, I mean the Bard, is hopelessly spoiled.

Barman: But aren’t there occasions when blackcurrant is sometimes much more welcome than Guinness? Replacing Lear with a mother makes the drama particularly chilling, because there is always some weird tension of its own between mothers and daughters which is waiting here for the story to pick up. The mother was faint and frail rather than the traditional puffing thespian, which unexpectedly shifted the weight of the play on to Goneril and Regan. The Fool, a saucy Regency fop, was also an original feature. “Let It Fall” was, in the end, all rather refreshing and enjoyable.

Tychy: I want something with more of a kick to it than blackcurrant, damn you!

Barman: If you forget about the Guinness, then nobody objects to blackcurrant in itself. Now best drink up – last orders was ten minutes ago.

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