I went to see “Light Shining in Buckinghamshire”, a play by Caryl Churchill currently on at the National Theatre. It’s a radical left account of the rise and betrayal of revolutionary movements, such as the Diggers and Levellers, during the English Civil War. The debates and interactions between the various characters and factions depicted reminded me of those in Ken Loach’s account of the Spanish Civil War filmed in ‘Land and Freedom’, although those of the 1600’s were framed in terms of religious ideology and imagery; and there were also echoes of the contemporary demonization and dispossession of poor people.
It must have been a radical play, because John Rees (now of Counterfire) has written a piece about it, which is published in the programme.
What wasn’t radical were the ticket prices, £15 for a seat in the ‘slips’ (aka ‘the gods’), seats in the circle and stalls seemed to cost up to £35. Those who paid got was a magnificent theatrical spectacle, brilliantly designed and choreographed with excellent singing as well, but who is being radicalised at that price?
Personally, I was only able to go because I was being suborned by the Cultural Commissar of Left Unity, but the play only served to strengthen my ecosocialst resolve.