I went to Winchester on Saturday to give a talk about David Greig and to watch a production of San Diego,
performed by second-year drama students at the university and directed
by Marianne Sharp and Marilena Zaroulia, both lecturers there and former
PhD students at Royal Holloway that I supervised and advised.
The production was extremely good.
Fiercely committed performances by the students, who managed to capture
that odd tone - simultaneously funny, strange, and sad - that runs right
through the play. The directors kept the play moving; literally, there
was a restless kinetic energy of migration, passing traffic, travel in
the play. It was performed traverse, which is always a good
configuration for journeys and movement, but they would cunningly keep
flipping the configurations; a bed with a TV would be on one side of the
stage then reappear, reversed on the other side. The actress playing
Laura was particularly strong, committing hard to the difficult, bloody,
beautiful emotions of the part, playing it bruised, angry and sexy all
at once. The design was a white box, reminiscent actually of the
original 2003 performance, and the opening image of the travel cases being wheeled through the space also recalled the Lyceum.
Most of all, I reflected watching it that San Diego might be the best play of the decade. It’s a masterpiece, really it is, and if it had gone on in London I’m sure it would be on everyone’s lips. It captures the 2000s the way Attempts on Her Life wrestled the 1990s to the ground. The global movement, the playfulness with authorship, the intimations of religion, the cutting, the romance, the intertwined stories, the fluidity and instability of character, the sheer fucking daring of the writing. It’s the most incredible pleasure to encounter this beautiful play again.