British luvvies are a rich source of entertainment to me—as long as I am careful to keep my theatre-going to a minimum; it’s the stuff they say in interviews that puts a smile on my face. So many of them talk cobblers. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter because (apart perhaps from the likes of Mackintosh and Lloyd-Webber) they have no power, artistic or otherwise, so you can just laugh.
In today’s Telegraph, for example, under the headline “Pornography: the most shocking play of the Edinburgh Festival?”, “rising star” playwright Simon Stephens explains the thinking behind that work: a play recounting a suicide bomber’s journey from Manchester to the London Underground with a rucksack full of explosives, in deliberate reflection of the journeys made by Britain’s 7/7 bombers from Leeds:
“The fictional suicide bomber in the play describes his journey from Manchester,” says Stephens, “but what he never talks about are his religion, American colonialism, al-Qa’eda or politics. All he talks about is the country he is travelling through.”
At the time of the attacks, says Stephens, “people were incredulous that British boys could turn on their own country, and that’s what we remember. But it didn’t surprise me. In fact, it made absolute sense to me. They are not monsters.”
He fleshes out the thesis that developed in his mind, which led him to the title for the play. “I was haunted by what the bombers were going through on that final day. It struck me that at the heart of their action was an alienation from the people they were going to kill and from themselves. This seemed to be symptomatic of a consumerist culture, which objectifies everyone and everything.
And objectification also sits under the production and consumption of pornography. I think we’re living in pornographic times.“
It’s obvious, innit? I don’t know about you, but every time I see images of naked people I get so alienated that all I can think of is filling a train carriage full of innocents with nail shrapnel.