Beyond The Gilded Cage may not have won the playwriting competition – OK, it never even made the shortlist! – but it has the minor distinction of being the first play I ever finished. Starting a dialogue comes easily enough when the discordant soundtrack to your childhood is constant parental bickering – all the books tell you that drama needs conflict, so it’s ta to Ma and Pa for plenty of that! – but fictional endings come harder when disagreements in real life are never really settled.
Anyway, that’s my excuse. Deadlines help, of course, they always did. One long boring car journey we decided to start writing down everything my parents said, so we sat on the back seat scribbling like crazy while they came up with pure comedy gold … “You’re getting far too close to that cyclist!” … “What cyclist?” We ended up with pages of this stuff, driven on by the delicious prospect of reading it aloud to everybody when we got to our grandparents’ house. A performance deadline, no less, and we brought the house down! If my mother and father had ever seen eye to eye, perhaps I wouldn’t still be scribbling crazy dialogues I can’t seem to finish.
There’s something of my parents in Sarah and Patrick, the central couple in my play, but whether I manage to bring them together convincingly at the end is anybody’s guess. Still, the books on playwriting tell me that farce is close to tragedy. If you’re interested, click on beyond2 and a Word document should load up after a few moments.