TWO: DUOLOGUES AND THE DIFFEREND
Rebellato, Dan. 'Two: Duologues and the Differend.' Ethical Speculations in Contemporary British Theatre. Eds. Aragay, Mireia and Enric Monforte. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 79-95.
This essay looks at the prevalence of the 'duologue' or 'two-hander' in contemporary playwriting and offers some thoughts about how it might be interpreted. It considers particular plays like Lucy Kirkwood's it felt empty when the heart went at first but it is alright now (2009), Jim Cartwright's I Licked a Slag's Deodorant (1996), David Harrower's Blackbird (2005), but mentions many more.
The argument also looks at arguments against ethical universalism such as Richard Rorty's in Contingency, Irony and Solidarity (1989) and Jean-François Lyotard's The Differend (1983); a differend occurs when there is an incommensurable dispute between two parties who share no common language game in which to resolve the dispute. I suggest that this does and doesn't explain the vogue for the duologue and offer an alternative account suggesting that the particular political conditions of the last twenty years have, paradoxically, given rise to a legitimate revival in ethical universalism .
It's a nice volume and, even though I've discovered a truly horrible mixed metaphor in my piece, I'm delighted to be part of this project.