David Lodge’s first full-length play examines that curious fixture in the writing game where the amateurs meet the professionals – on a course in creative writing. Maude, author of nine bestsellers, and Simon, with one sensational success to his name, are veterans of this particular course: Leo, a campus-based American novelist astounded by the dilettante approach of the English, is the odd man out.
The idea is to put the students under pressure, but in the converted barn that houses the tutors, professional and sexual tensions, past slights and current rivalries rapidly build to a fierce head of steam. Out of these pressures, David Lodge distils a sharply observed comedy of the problems and preoccupations of the writer as the professionals, striving to explain to enthusiastic beginners how to do it, are forced to confront an altogether trickier question: why on earth do they themselves write in the first place?
Delicately probing, nimbly parodic, uncomfortably on target, Lodge’s incisive study of writers at work and at odds will bring the pleasure of recognition to all readers of fiction – and to most of those in the game.