How to Be in London Without Really Being in London; or: My London Spies Have Filed Their Reports

I sent the following message to my e-mail list (what?! you're not on my e-mail list?! go here) a few weeks ago:

Dear Friends:

The first and only time I was in London some kids threw sticks at me. This was in high school. And since then, I've been longing to return so that I can hunt those kids down and throw sticks back at them. You see, I am older and more vengeful. My, how I've grown.

Anyway, I may—MAY—have the opportunity to seek revenge. You see, some seriously British British people are presenting a one-night-only staged reading of my play, MYSTERIOUS SKIN, based on the novel by Scott Heim, in London on March 15, 2010, in order to convince the "notoriously stingy" (an English friend's exact words, not mine) Arts Council to fund a full production of the play. If that happens, then I will be on the first plane to England, twigs in hand.

If you're near London, go! Be my personal spies, and tell me how they do. If you have friends in London, spread the word, so that I may one day soon scream, "Vengeance is mine!"


Well, one of my personal spies has reported back! I asked her for a few sentences, but she managed to bang out an extensive review, parts of which are reproduced here for your reading pleasure, with her permission of course.

Amanda Rogers, a gentlewoman and a scholar, wrote the following:

Between the literary land of Bloomsbury and rah rah Fitzrovia, The Drill Hall is around the corner from my university so I packed up after work and went off, dragging my partner in tow (he really wishes that I did research on big West End musicals, rather than shoestring-budget theatre)....

After a late start, a whopping 50 people (this is central London, it is a staged reading, do you know how much space costs to rent?) managed to squeeze into the basement studio like sardines in a tin, for what seemed to be largely a crowd of friends and family.

As for the play itself, the first thing to say is that we really enjoyed it and for a staged reading thought it was well-acted and slickly directed. The first act moved along swiftly, with quick scene changes and sharp transitions to clearly differentiate between the present and the characters' past memories. The momentum carried us along the sharply twisting emotional roller coaster—we laughed, we were captivated, we sympathised, and then by the end of the act we were suddenly made to feet suitably uncomfortable.

During the interval, I couldn't quite see how the story of a New York hustler and a Kansas alien abductee was going to connect. I could see that they would, but I liked the ambiguity of not being able to predict the journey....

I had wondered over my interval drink if the UK Arts Council would fund this project, given its American origin and obvious lack of a 'diversity card.' However, in an era where we are monitoring teachers and child careers to ever greater degrees owing to our concerns around [child abuse], it seems odd that, Caryl Churchill not withstanding, there is a lack of theatrical engagement with this social issue. So maybe the Arts Council will see value in a fully fledged production, and Prince can finally return to London to seek his vengeance on those racist white boys who threw sticks at him all those years ago.

One of the things I enjoyed about that report is Amanda's use of the term "suitably uncomfortable," which I will now be dropping in casual conversation. ("This pie makes me suitably uncomfortable.") I also liked "interval drink," which I presume is a common phrase in her parts. And I appreciated her Caryl Churchill reference, which, if you go back and read that paragraph, draws parallels between Caryl Churchill...and me!


  1. Fantastic review. Congrats, Prince!

  2. Anonymous3/18/2010

    Comparison with Caryl Churchill?! What more could a playwright want? And at the Drill Hall, no less -- I have many fond memories of shows I saw there in 1991, including a fantastic cross-gender version of "Streetcar" called "Belle Reprieve". I sure hope they do a full production of your show!

  3. Great idea! Love seeing a creative mind work and gain success!!!!!! Hope it continues to grow!