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This review is taken from PN Review 124, Volume 25 Number 2, November - December 1998.

'A STORY WITHOUT HOPE' EDWARD BOND, At the Inland Sea, a play for young people with Notes and Commentary by Tony Coult (Methuen Drama)

'... the only sound heard is the people breathing together as one. The sound is neither beautiful nor ugly.'

'The sound dies away into silence. The People are dead...'

From two of Edward Bond's stage-directions for a short play that is remarkable for the unillusioned strength of its understanding of our lives, for the resilient courage - which comes close to a fierce joy - it gives, and for the respect it shows the young people it is intended for; though it is certainly not young people alone who should see and read it.

It is that 'neither beautiful nor ugly' that interests me. Coming to see reality as it is - not by adopting an attitude of 'scientific', religious or aesthetic detachment towards it but in a way that moves always towards a deeper involvement - is no simple matter, and is a never-ending task. It is easier to deny your involvement in reality, or to see it as you would like it to be or as you have been told it is: the ways of the detached ascetic or aesthete, the sentimentalist, the mind-manacled - none is truly alive.

'There are no cures for the problems of being human,' writes Bond in his Notes on Imagination (published with the play Coffee), 'there are only stories.' Elsewhere, in his Rough Notes on Theatre, he speaks of imagination needing 'to relate experience as story or as potentially storyable.' At the ...


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