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Going Straight: The Politics of Time and Space in David Eldridge’s Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness

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Amelia Howe Kritzer states that a contemporary British play is commonly thought of as political if it presents “a political issue or comments on what is already perceived as a political issue” (10). Since 1989, however, the economic and political system in the UK has become increasingly monologic. In such a monologic political system, Shavian dialogic forms of political theatre, which present a dialectical discussion of a social issue, lose their efficacy. As a result, some British playwrights have moved towards more interventionist strategies of political engagement, which involve our lived experience of social structures through their dramaturgy. These plays re-order normative representations of social structures, so offering a symbolic re-ordering of social structures within their form. As such, their form presents what Adorno terms, “an analogy of that other condition which should be” (194). David Harvey argues that in late capitalist society, our experience of time and space has become increasingly compressed. Consequently the temporal axis of succession, which constitutes the fundamental organising principle of Shavian drama, no longer reflects our lived experience of time in the world outside the theatre. Therefore, plays that re-order structures of time and space have political efficacy in that they expose a gap between representations of time and space as linear and concrete and our lived experience of time and space as compressed. This essay argues that David Eldridge’s Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness articulates a complete breakdown in the temporal axis of succession in its structure. Its dramaturgy reflects the experience of time-space compression. Thus, it is a highly political play, not on the basis of its content, but in terms of the way in which its structure mediates and negotiates our lived experience of social structures under the pressures of late capitalism.

Works Cited

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Published Online: 2014-4-16
Published in Print: 2014-5-1

© 2014 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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