Husband and I went to see The Frogs Saturday night. Not the original Greek one, the modernised musical. It was at the Mumford Theatre.
It was a fun production, and a really wonderful date night!
But, they substituted the writers. Instead of popping down to Hades to fetch Aeschylus and ending up with a poetic duel between Aeschylus and Euripides; Dionysus went to fetch Bernard Shaw, who ended up having a battle of words with Shakespeare.
I was a bit surprised by the choice of Shaw and then slightly disappointed by the Shakespeare selection. Shakespeare is too easy a pick, surely. And with the number of Shakespeare plays currently in production and the popularity of his poetry, I don’t think he really needs bringing back. Did he ever leave?
So, I started thinking, who would I chose to bring back? Which dead writer do I think could speak to our current situation?
Of course, Aristophanes says he wants a poet, but his poets were what we call playwrights. He wanted to bring back a writer whose work was performed to a large public.
A playwright it is, then.
Well, how about J.B. Priestly? Surely the central message of An Inspector Calls about the wide reaching effects of our mist callous actions could be spoken to even greater effect in today’s global economy. But, like Shakespeare, this play had never really left our stages.
Perhaps Oscar Wilde, then. His trivial characters with their endless wit would fit right in with our modern media of quips in 140 characters or less.
My final suggestion is J. M. Barrie. Not just Peter Pan (though, really, that play about never wanting to grow up, about the power of belief and the trap of the roles we choose; could take us all a long way), what about Quality Street? In Quality Street Pheobe pretends to be a younger girl, her own nice, in order to go to a ball with a man she loves, only to discover that he loves her – the real her, and not the silly, younger version at all. Surely all that Barrie has to say about aging will help us now with our aging population. What about The Admirable Chrichton and it’s exploration of how the stories we tell differ from the experiences we share and how those class divisions, which vanish when people are stranded on a desert island, return in full force once those people return to society. Societal pressures and their impact on family life, could there be a more perfect subject to explore today?