8: Drunk enough to say I love you

29 Mar

I was looking for a quick read today, but didn’t bargain on the density and incomprehensibility of Caryl Churchill’s slim play, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?

pile of plays and an apple

Reading pile and sustenance

Caryl Churchill writes from the heart, or maybe from a gut burning with injustice. She writes of politics and repression, of colonialism and misogynism. In Drunk Enough to Say I Love You she writes not about sexual politics but about politics as sex. So, instead of having a rant about American imperialism, she has written a character called Sam (think Uncle Sam) and one called Jack (Union Jack).

Jack is in love with Sam and Sam is in love with power. Jack will do anything for Sam and follow him anywhere and Sam takes him to some morally reprehensible places. I could almost hear this in my head, but reading it on the page is painful. It’s the sort of play that needs to be heard and seen – it doesn’t come to life on paper.

Here’s an example of the dialogue:

SAM: everyone else agrees a resolution not to use space so

JACK: giving us total

SAM: because with the proliferation of wmd

JACK: so many countries want

SAM: so we combat the threat by

JACK: I do worry about

SAM: because we have two and a half times the next nine countries put together

JACK: thank god

SAM: nuclear weapons stored in seven european

JACK: hey

SAM: chemical

JACK: whoo

etc… I’ve chosen an arbitrary stopping and starting place as there is no punctuation and all the dialogue is these fragments of sentences, elliptical and nonsensical. But as you read it you start to get the feel for the rhythm and the possibilities of meaning.

Clearly it’s an anti-US and anti-Britain-blindly-following-the-US play. But it is interesting to see the sexualisation of the political relationship. I’d like to see it staged. I couldn’t get into it on the page…

Publisher: Royal Court (2006)

Cast: 2 M

3 Responses to “8: Drunk enough to say I love you”

  1. Richard March 29, 2011 at 3:06 am #

    Hey Katherine!

    What a great idea for a blog. I actually saw “Drunk Enough” in London in 2006, and was massively let down. I’m a huge Churchill fan but did not engage with this play at all. Also, in the context of commenting on “The Special Relationship” between the US and UK, using a sexual metaphor is nothing new. The language was great, but I found the ideas in it somewhat lacking…

    One nice thing about the production though was the way it was directed. The two men sat on a couch that was completely surrounded by pitch black darkness, on a raised platform that was also pitch black. The effect was that they were floating through space. This led to a few gimmicky (but very fun) moments where a character might throw a glass of wine over this shoulder, only for the expectant smash to never eventuate (the darkened stage floor was obviously padded). And as the play went on the platform seemed to silently raise higher and higher, so that by the end they were quite high above us (it was staged Downstairs).

    Still, directorial quirks aside, it was a pretty underwhelming night out at the theatre (not to mention a short one!).

    Look forward to seeing more of your posts. :o)

    • Katherine Lyall-Watson March 29, 2011 at 3:13 am #

      Great to hear from you, Richard, and to get an account of the Royal Court performance. The design sounds amazing but, you’re right, on it’s own design is not enough to make a play work.

  2. Diane March 30, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    This one sounds way over my head Kate. Remind me not to go and see it!!

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