“A remarkable account of a remarkable experience.” Harold Pinter
In the first half of 1984, Simon Gray kept a diary during the staging of his recent play, The Common Pursuit. This record of the production at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, is self-analytical, witty, painful, and wonderfully observed.
Casting, rehearsals, previews, advertising, first-night, post-mortem: Simon Gray was closely involved with each step of the intricate production process. He describes the nail-biting suspense of waiting for the first responses to the manuscript; the nightmare in which one of the actors appeared to have a lisp; the anguish of having his work misinterpreted, or worse, of realizing he had wrongly judged a speech; and most importantly, the compulsion that drives him to continue with his precarious art.
An Unnatural Pursuit is the story of all productions, successful and unsuccessful. It also tells us about Simon Gray, about his working relationship with Harold Pinter—who directed many of his plays—and above all about the immensely complicated but fascinating business of putting on a play. It is a fine and memorable addition to the distinguished literature of the theatre.