C(ecil) P(hillip) Taylor Anthony Masters

Start Your Free Trial

Download C(ecil) P(hillip) Taylor Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Anthony Masters

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Uneasy on occasion about C P Taylor's work, I can happily commend Bring Me Sunshine as a summing-up of his special perceptiveness and pity. Teddy, on whose cuddly middle-aged shoulders a whole Newcastle community sobs out its problems, is an inspired device for showing us the sorrows and misunderstandings of ordinary people's relationships—and Taylor's own affectionate frustration as he watches human folly and finds he must forgive it. Not many playwrights can send you out of the theatre a better person, but he was one of them.

Into Teddy's kitchen come the seekers for cocoa and sympathy, moaning that Teddy never understands but telling him just the same. His son Peter … gets his punk girlfriend Wendy pregnant, loses his supermarket job for playing custard pies with a strawberry gateau and eats a local mushroom so wild it sends him streaking up the road in his underpants. Wendy … can't decide whether to have his baby or stay as majorette in the kids' jazz band. Even Ted's own wife Carol … has an autumnal fling with a staff-sergeant who has ears like mug handles, and details to Ted every lovesick moment and every shared cup of coffee.

Such scenes leave Ted, and his author, between laughter and tears. Peter is ludicrously seduced in a strange bathroom by a girl so dirty he's tempted to make washing her neck part of the foreplay. Wendy wallops him and decides to marry him. How hopeless and how forgivable. And the better Ted knows people, the less he understands. Peter is in the thick of a knife fight one minute and a frightened child the next. So how can you judge, how can you condemn?…

Ted begins as a kind, shrewd, wryly funny man, so like the author in temperament and so physically unlike him. But the good listener, the agreeable man who always agrees, becomes as original a tragicomic character as Molière's Misanthrope or Hampton's Philanthropist. Has he got life where he wants it? Or has he ceased to feel, even to exist? Besieged by others' needs, does he know his own?

Thus an unpretentious comedy grows and grows; and, of course, Taylor's touch with Geordie speech and behaviour is sure. This detail can distract, slow the action and actually trivialize it; but less so here than, for example, in the winsome And A Nightingale Sang…. (p. 32)

Anthony Masters, in a review of "Bring Me Sunshine" and "Good" (© copyright Anthony Masters 1982; reprinted with permission), in Plays and Players, No. 345, June, 1982, pp. 32-3.