Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Re-Writing History - the result

Here's the results and report on Monday's competition, as described by Peter Thompson:

"It looked so straightforward: take a celebrated historical event and re-write it to give it dramatic form and moral purpose. But the devious minds of our authors wanted to write about something else and unhappily two of those that came closest to doing what the competition-setter asked had to be disqualified! Peter Skyte’s THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE was a witty little dialogue in a Finchley tea tent in 1964 involving a black parish priest called Desmond and an ambitious grocer’s daughter, Margaret, discussing the ending of apartheid in South Africa. Unfortunately it over-ran. So did Francis Beckett’s play THE HOLY FOX about a broadcast in 1940 by the Earl of Halifax, egged on by Diana Mitford, Lady Mosley, as he prepared the people for surrender to Hitler and moving Parliament to Stoke on Trent. Again well within the spirit of the competition, but well over time. The other over-runner was TIBERIUS HEFT by Kevin Mandry concerning an unmeritorious campaign to have the unpublished and illiterate plays of this ignorant scribbler put on at the National. No celebrated historical event, but some good play-titles of Heft’s like Six Authors In Search of a Toilet.

Michael Barry, winner last time out, came 5th with 201 points for a play about the Battle of Hastings called OUR HISTORY. Only it wasn’t a re-enactment of the battle, just a young couple falling out over little known facts like the name of William the Conqueror’s wife [Matilda of Flanders, since you ask, mother of nine children]. In fourth place was Tim Gambrell who scored 220 points with MONA LISA’S TITS. This was an interview with a Professor Bolocks, a filthologist who contended that all great works of art concealed the artist’s pornographic leanings: the Mona Lisa was a typical cover-up. No celebrated historical events there. Thank goodness then for Chloe Austin who came third, with 231 points for WE ARE ALL BERLINERS. When the wall went up in 1961 it separated a little boy and girl: but when the wall came down 28 years later they were still waiting for each other. Not a dry eye in the house; and well done Chloe for making something romantic out of a world event.

Peter Vincent made second place (237 points) with WE MET NEXT YEAR, a time-travelling love story, beautifully played by Lynne O’Sullivan and Phil Philmar with Caroline Langston as the soon-to-be-cheated wife. Not much about times past, but a tantalising glimpse of the future.

You may wonder that there has been no mention so far of Dr Watson, Mrs Hudson and the Baker Street irregulars. No, Bill Gordon took a rest in order to give more time to his entry for the INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR competition, closing date 3rd June. Instead, Debbie Maya gave us ARTHUR LOSES SHIRLEY. What’s that? Arthur must be Arthur Conan Doyle but who on earth is Shirley? Why, Shirley Holmes, of course, the Great Detective, who had to have a change of gender to please the publishers and also Oscar Wilde who happened to be passing: the winner with 271 points. Well, I suppose the incredible truth had to be told. Or is it, like the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared?

Time now to thank our fearless teller, Giles Armstrong, who has the disagreeable responsibility of disqualifying over-runners and the no less onerous task of adding up the marks of those still in the race. And finally the infinitely serene Natasha Staples, who conjured up eight plays, in perfect order and impeccably cast for our delight. Many, many thanks".

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