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Theatre review Egotist’s tale of no consequence

After Today
Stage d’Or,
Riddles Court
Edinburgh

THE legendary Sex Pistols interview which brought punk rock fucking and shitting into the mainstream, and outraged a nation, was the swift killing of Thames Television’s Today show.

The programme’s presenter Bill Grundy, however, endured a slower, more painful death and this is the setting for After Today.

Alex Donald’s Grundy has been reduced to presenting Close Up on Castles, a lunchtime show for regional telly which, he keeps telling us and his director Julian (Ankur Sengupta), that no-one will watch.

This is a tale of a prejudiced, washed-up old soak who never dreamed one drunken interview with a substitute band — Queen had cancelled their slot on Today at last minute — could end his career.

Donald shines in painting a morbid picture of a self-pitying egotist who can’t resist in framing the famous interview, in which Steve Jones called Grundy a “dirty fucker,” purely around himself.

The on-stage, though off-screen, sparring is less successful. Grundy repeatedly demands they wrap up filming to head to the pub, but this quickly becomes rather tired,especially as Sengupta’s character does no more than refuse on each occasion.

The play tries a little too hard to remind us of the infamous interview’s specifics.

Perhaps this an effort to engage a younger audience with no knowledge of that scandalous early-evening broadcast in 1976, but one can’t help wonder if such an audience would buy tickets for a play about Bill Grundy in the first place. And they didn’t seem to have for the opening show.

The protagonist eventually concludes that, in his high-mindedness and hatred, he’s got more in common with Sex Pistols than meets the eye. After seeing his anger and anguish so close up, it’s hard to disagree.

Until August 27 2018. Box office tickets.edfringe.com.

 

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