David Pownall Peter Prince - Essay

Peter Prince

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

God Perkins is formidable. At times it seems to contain as many characters as the telephone directory, but the plot, alas, has nothing in common with A-D's austere restraint. I got lost well before the end….

The theatre world is naturally so full of humour that it seems almost perverse of David Pownall to have written in such a frantically farcical style. So many people are being so busy all the time no single figure ever stands still long enough to establish himself. The only one to get close to doing so is the harried, sensuous, suicidal writer McHugh. It would have been nice to have known more about McHugh, and I cannot think why Mr Pownall let the other members of the cast get away with so much obstreperous upstaging. Still, Mr Pownall's approach throws up some merry quips—"we all know writers and directors have rows about interpretation, but I think McHugh is the first writer I have heard of who has brought the police in on his side"—and fans of freewheeling farce should certainly feel they have been taken a full fifteen rounds by God Perkins.

When he tries for satire, however, Mr Pownall is often decidedly shaky. We need to be able to trust a satirist's small, everyday perceptions—otherwise it is difficult to follow him confidently into his large fantasies. I am not sure Mr Pownall earns that basic confidence.

Peter Prince, "Everyone on Stage," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1977; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), March 11, 1977, p. 261.