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Thursday, 15 April 2010

Theatre - David Hare Platform - National Theatre

Star rating 8/10

This was the first National Theatre Platform that I have been to. Platforms are short sessions which last under an hour, cost £3.50 a throw, and comprise a talk with a selected artist followed by questions from the audience. This Platform featured playwright David Hare, who is celebrating his 40th year as a dramatist.

I have only seen one of his many plays, ‘The Power of Yes’, here at the National last year, which I very much rated for its telling of the origins of the credit crunch in an extremely original manner. So I was an interested observer here rather than an avid fan. The Platform started with three clips selected by Hare himself showing highlights from his career. 'Plenty', a 1985 screen adaptation of his play, starring the fabulous Meryl Streep shows a woman struggling with the unbearable compromises of her life and marriage in the post war peacetime period. 'Via Dolorosa', a BBC adaptation of the play in which Hare himself performs a solo piece on the state of Israel, which he admits during the later talk caused him great embarrassment as he is not at home as an actor. And lastly 'The Absence of War' with John Thaw as the leader of New Labour during the 1992 election night defeat - quite poignant in the current election's build up and widely predicted death of the New Labour project.

In the interview section, Hare came across as intelligent, articulate and modest. He told how he discovered his talent for play writing by accident, and that his first love is comedy and satire. He was a young radical writer who was one of the few of his stable to infiltrate the NT when it was seen as very much part of the establishment. He was backed by NT Director Peter Hall, who refused to give in to the calls for ‘Plenty’ to be taken off in the face of terrible reviews, as he believed it was a truly good play.

Hare discussed his series of political plays, and his current role covering this election for The Guardian. He was very amusing in recounting how the Tories had invited him, and everyone else in the country for that matter, to become part of the Government in the previous day's manifesto launch. He says he is mulling over their offer!

He came across as a very funny, insightful, and generous man who is clearly very talented, and whose plays I wish I had seen more of, but will certainly look out for from now on. And the Platform was a thoroughly enjoyable way of spending less than an hour at the National. I will certainly be going to more.

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