Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation

Recommending: Growing your own vegetables

Endings of plays vs novels / One Day by Nicholls

Modern plays tend to have short or very short codas. The scenes after the climax of the play. The “quick in quick out” school of scene writing which some attribute to the David Mamet style (start the scene close to the climax/turning point, end the scene close to after the turn) has been influential in this.
Compare this to Shakespeare, which had many scenes of the climax to wrap up (or create) loose ends. Today’s audience does supposedly tend to become a little bored with long codas.
However, on many occasion I do find codas satisfying but I read them more in novels.
Former actor David Nicholls (stage name David Holdaway) has written an immensely readable book: One Day which charts 20 years through the lens of one day in the off/on/off/on/sortof relationship of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew from 1988 onwards.
(Nicholls also adapted Simpatico for the screen) and although the one day view point structure means many chapters have a “quick in quick out” compelling drive to them towards the end of One Day he writes a very satisfying coda after the dramatic climax of the book. It gives enough insight and resolution to all the major characters of the book that leaves you feeling you know how they are coping in the world today.
Great book for holiday or tube reading. Or at any time really.


Seeing or reading a play written by someone you know is not the same experience as coming to it blankly. Inferences – probably mostly imaginary – seep through like when meeting a celebrity your mind is unintentionally full of the – probably mostly imaginary – media reports. Reactions to plays build upon what you know, experience and imagine and build upon what you’ve seen before.

Intrinsic grey or Eigengrau (or Eigenlicht intrinsic light) is the colour seen by your eye in pitch darkness. The optic nerve triggers some action potentials even without light photon triggers and causes the perception of a uniform dark grey colour.

In Eigengrau, in scene 2,  Mark switches his choice of tea from Rose(hip) to (Earl) grey. At the end of the play, Rose says to Cassie Grey:

Can you believe out of something so


you can get



Referring to Cassie’s professed one night stand. This theme – in my reading – is riffed through out the play. Potentially meaningless or insignificant actions can or do take on momentous clothes – the stubbing out of a cigarette, the sum of £399.

Is this an indirect commentary on London as well? Flatmates brought together by Gumtree and lives that can be lead in splendid or tragic isolation.

It can be so, but need not be so, and I for one will continue my effects to connect and re-connect with those around me.

Reviews of my friend Penelope Skinner’s new play Eigengrau have been good (eg Independent, Stage, Guardian) although some dissenters (Telegraph). You can see it at the Bush theatre until 10 April, but it is already sold out on some nights, so book ahead 020 8743 5050

  • About me

    I'm a playwright and investment analyst. I have a broad range of interests: food, gardening, innovation & intellectual property, sustainability, architecture & design, writing and the arts. I sit on the board of Talawa Theatre Company and advise a CIS investment trust on socially responsible investments.

  • Recent Work

    Recent plays include, for theatre: Nakamitsu, Yellow Gentlemen, Lost in Peru, Lemon Love. For radio: Places in Between (R4), Patent Breaking Life Saving (WS).

  • Nakamitsu

  • Yellow Gentlemen