I went to see The Art of Persuasion at the Stephen Joseph Theatre this weekend, a first play from author Roger Osborne. It was masterful. I was going to add, 'for a debut', however, that would have been disingenuous. This was a play any dramatist would have been proud of writing.
To be honest, I wasn't keen on the topic, thinking I saw enough scheming politicians on the nightly news, I didn't need to spend my Saturday evening with them too. But I was gripped from the beginning. The Art of Persuasion explored how and why corruption happens with wit and intelligence, it also set up audience expectations in the first act, only to bowl straight through them in the second and continue to rip 'em down in the third.
This was apparently a 'workshop' performance put on with the minimum rehearsal and scanty resources. You would not have known it. The actors were superb, absorbing us into their sordid little drama whether we wanted to go there or not.
Osborne, already a well-known and accomplished non-fiction writer, has crossed genre with aplomb. Creative plasticity is something that I have addressed in previous blogs and it was raised again on the Culture Show (BBC2) this week. Steve McQueen was asked whether he was now an artist who expressed himself in film or a film maker who sometimes painted. Giving the interviewer a withering look, McQueen responded that he would go wherever his creativity chose to take him. I was considerably heartened by this (for myself and my attempts at melding the visual with the literary) and, further, hope that Osborne continues to take his talents for a turn on the stage.