Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Monday 16th July 2007

Where Are All the Rightwing Playwrights?

For five years I worked as the drama critic of The Spectator and one of my biggest disappointments was the dearth of new plays by anyone remotely rightwing. True, Neil LaBute has a very jaundiced view of humanity -- and such skepticism is certainly at the heart of traditional conservatism -- but his remit rarely extends beyond sexual politics. Why haven't Bono, Geldoff and Curtis been mercilessly skewered by a vicious satirist? Why hasn't there been a single play in defence of the War on Terror?

I quickly discovered that the obvious explanation -- namely, that the theatricial establishment is uniformly leftwing -- is wrong. In fact, most artistic directors of Britain's big theatres would like nothing more than to put on a genuinely rightwing play -- if only so they can appear on the Today Programme to defend their "bold" choices. The problem is, they aren't sent any. It may please those on the right to imagine that there are hundreds of "blacklisted" conservative playwrights out there, but the truth is that there are almost none.

It was with high hopes, therefore, that I went to see The Pain and the Itch, a new play by Bruce Norris at the Royal Court. Billed as a no-holds-barred send-up of the liberal intelligentsia, it is both a critical and commercial success -- and a huge feather in the cap of Dominic Cooke, the Court's newly-appointed artistic director. Admittedly, the limousine liberals it supposedly bashes are of the American variety, but still. Better one rightwing play than none at all. I was eager to be present at the dawning of a new theatrical era in which contemporary plays reflect a broad diversity of political opinion and not just different shades of liberalism.

Alas, The Pain and the Itch isn't really a rightwing play at all. It only has one point to make at the expense of its characters and that is that they don't practice what they preach. They're hypocrites, in other words, but that hardly constitutes an attack on their political point of view. Norris isn't criticising his characters' values, only their failure to act on them. If anything, he's complaining that they aren't leftwing enough. Metropolitan theatregoers may pat themselves on the back for being broadminded enough to laugh at The Pain and the Itch, but in fact it poses no challenge to their political beliefs at all.

It looks as though I'll have to wait a little while longer for the emergence of a genuinely conservative playwright.

Independent on Sunday, 15th July, 2007

[ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share

Twitter RT @jon_brunskill: I was so impressed and inspired by the work I saw at @wlfsprimary today. I’d very quickly be out of my depth talking to…  (21 minutes ago)


The neuro-diversity case for free speech by Geoffrey Miller -
The Age of Outrage by Jonathan Haidt -
The Warlock Hunt by Claire Berlinski -
Is classical liberalism conservative? by Yarom Hazony -
The Implosion of Western Liberalism by Patrick Lee Miller -
The Eton of the East End - Daily Mail
The reactionary temptation by Andrew Sullivan -
The book that scandalised New York intellectuals by Louis Menand -
To understand Britain today, look to the 17th Century by Adrian Wooldridge -
The crisis in France by Christopher Caldwell -
A Visit to Michaela School by Patrick Alexander -
Why parenting may not matter by Brian Boutwell -
Trump Establishment's Cultural Significance Explained by Michael Wolff -
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum by Dominic Cummings -
Putin's Real Long Game by Molly K McKew -
The Flight 93 Election by Publius Decius Mus -
How the education gap is tearing politics apart by David Runciman -
What's wrong with identity politics by Graeme Archer -
Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan -
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs -
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan -
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker -
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood -
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray -
Beware the soft Stalinists of the campus by David Aaronovitch -
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter -
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win -
Corbyn's first seven days -
Corbin's cabinet chaos by Darren McCaffrey -
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons -
Inside Westminster's free school -
Jeremy Corbyn's politics are a fantasy – just like Alice in Wonderland by Tony Blair -
Robert Conquest obit -
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that -
In defence of free schools by Toby Young -


Andrew Lilico
Andrew Neil
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone


AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on

  • Buy the book on

  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on

  • Buy the book on

  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from

  • Buy the DVD from

  • IMdb Page on the film