Jeremy Green On … The Serious Business of Choosing a MateDate: 17 April 2009
Jeremy Green’s first play Snakes won an award at The Young Vic. Fairy Tale is his third play, and features as part of the comic double bill The Serious Business of Choosing a Mate, which is at the Pleasance Theatre from 14 April to 3 May 2009.
There is only one kind of play to see and that is the one that grips you from start to finish. Each time I go to the theatre I go in hope. I want constant ebb and flow, with events that change people before my eyes, and I don’t want to be able to guess what’s going to happen, and yes, if possible, I like to be moved or made to laugh. We have all felt the dullness of ‘the worthy play’ and even ‘the dragging twenty minutes’ is hard to put up with. And you can’t walk out. It’s so ill-mannered to leave when people are acting their hearts out in front of you (is this a British thing? I once saw elegant Italian women in long evening gowns stand up and boo in a theatre!).
So Fairy Tale starts with a princess waiting for her perfect prince to arrive. This seemed to me pregnant with tragi-comic possibility. It’s also true. We still tell little girls bedtime stories in which the perfect beau arrives in time. This particular princess is convinced that tonight will be the night. And when a possible suitor does appear, bringing with him death and destruction, she tries to persuade herself, despite his evident unsuitability that he really could be ‘the man’. The gap between our expectations and reality is the very stuff of drama, be it Blackadder or Hamlet. So what happens to the princess in Fairy Tale? Ah, sorry. I can’t reveal that. I can tell you there’s love and death and war and religion. And four interesting characters.
My director, Maria Chiorando (who garnered rave reviews for her revival of Look Back in Anger) cast brilliantly. We have a tall actor, a short one, an old one and a lovely one. All four are excellent in their craft. But Fairy Tale is a short play. So Maria coupled it with another: The Proposal, Chekhov’s classic comic farce (that’s right, Chekhov. No competition for me there). I translated it with pleasure, marvelling at how skilfully Chekhov chronicles a nervous landowner’s attempt to ask for his neighbour’s hand in marriage. Of course things go wrong. And we laugh. How cruel audiences are. Or are you? I hope to see you at The Pleasance. The evening is called The Serious Business of Choosing a Mate. I promise you it won’t be dull.
The Serious Business of Choosing a Mate continues at the Pleasance to 3 May 2009.