Prophetic visions of the future used to have a surprisingly optimistic and global scope. H.G Wells in The Shape of Things to Come in 1933 imagined a ‘Dictatorship of the Air’ benevolently ruling over world transport, and everyone who used it. Averting famine, war and plague, the dictatorship acted to better people as individuals.
It is perhaps a sign of our times that writers are increasingly moving away from optimism to a more pessimistic, depressed outlook. Most recently the spectre of a prolonged and lonely old age has itself begun to set our forward thinking minds into a panic.
Golaszewski, living in 2056 and 76 years old has just watched his wife die. He shifts between addressing the audience and his wife ‘Pudding’, taking us through their relationship. It is a story which swings uneasily between the opposing extremes of euphoric ardour and gut wrenching misery. More scope could have been given to the quite contented grey areas in which many relationships undoubtedly trundle along. An inordinate amount of time is also given over to descriptions of sex which is often little more than exaggerated descriptions of certain areas of pudding’s body. It’s a ‘noisy awkward love’ they have – and the audience are privy to most of it. Warts, moles, squelching and all.
Nonetheless, while the script may be wanting, Golaszewski’s acting is hard to fault. The monologue is often very moving, indeed so much so that as the lights went up one member of the audience was actually weeping.
Cripes! Yes, readers you may have an emotionally dysfunctional reviewer here. While Golaszewski undoubtedly created a strong impression, the tempestuous extremes and often dull script did not sit well. Yet, as Wells noted to the end of The Shape of Things to Come, the Romance of the future will become ‘essentially the violent and miserable reaction of weak spirits to prohibitions they cannot fairly overcome.’ Assuming no one finds a cure for ageing or basic human instinct, romantic plays like these are surely set to continue for a long time.
* * *