Wednesday 20 July 2011


It's high summer (somebody please tell the Almighty) so it's time for the Swansea Grand's repertory season. The first offering is a nearly successful two-man thriller about an actor-producer who entraps, lectures at length, and then murders a drama critic who has dogged and wrecked his career. The critic suggests to his tormentor that he is suffering from serious mental illness and this is cheerfully acknowledged. However, this "madness" is just another example of lazy dramatic convention necessary to support the unlikely plot - so no mental health insights intended or delivered.

The play is full of bitter, excoriating criticism of critics in general which must surely be a personal matter for the (real) playwright, Tudor Gates (1930 - 2007), who had a very modest career as a telly and stage writer, failed as a Parliamentary candidate for the Liberals, but played a more successful role as a trade unionist in the creative field.

Gates' most prestigious billing was as one of several writers who stitched together the plot of science fiction pseudery "Barbarella" (1968), one of the silliest films ever made (the criticism of it may therefore have inspired Gates' play) but still well known for propelling a youthful Jane Fonda into stardom.