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The Warp

The Party

A play performed about this time gave one writer’s view of the Marxist aspirations of some of the various media people involved in some of the communist or far left organisations of the time.

In ‘The Party’, performed at the National Theatre, the writer, Trevor Griffiths, implies that in an increasingly affluent and contented country, there may have been something perverse about those who still felt the need to be working towards a communist revolution.

In the play this alleged political inappropriateness or impotence is mirrored in the actual lives lived by the media activists who, Griffiths appears to suggest, turn their backs on the mainstream of life and human relationships, instead marginalising themselves into a human backwater which parallels their inappropriate political backwater.

So a young child’s voice is heard upstairs calling persistently for its mother, but no-one goes to comfort it. What the author calls the ‘fuck ballet’ performed by the television producer in whose flat a number of media people are gathered for the party that gives the play its title, with his girlfriend, becomes inoperative, and this, I take it, is also a comment on what Griffiths believes to be the impotence of his political position.

Asked whether he has thought of making love with his good-looking au pair, the producer responds, not that he already has a girlfriend, or that he has moral scruples, but merely that he is ‘too busy’.

The protagonists, in turn, present their dreams of how the revolution will occur, often referring to a particular work by Marx, itself somewhat of a backwater in his writing.

One of Williams’ protagonists expects the revolution to start in Europe, another believes it will take place in the remoter exploited parts of the world – Korea and Taiwan.

The most inspired vision comes from an alcoholic writer, who still believes that it will be the British workers in their thousands and millions who will initiate the world revolution.

During the play, a television screen is full of images of the students uprising in Paris in 1968. Mostly, those present do not seem able to fit this mass uprising in Paris into their world view.

The Party lasts all night and at three or four in the morning the producer’s girlfriend comes back, apparently having spent the last few hours making love with someone else, subsequent to the earlier failure of the ‘fuck ballet’.

Trevor Griffiths’ view appears to be that these people are living lives in which, parallel to the inappropriateness and impotence of their political ideology, they are colluding in ensuring that the mainstream of life itself is somehow passing them by.


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