Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Arts Diary

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Arts Diary

Article excerpt

* Recent musicals have been inspired by such unlikely subjects as Margaret Thatcher, Jesus and the ska band Madness. But is the world really ready for Ratner: the musical? Simon Nye, the writer best known for his television series Men Behaving Badly, has teamed up with the composer Howard Goodall to pen this delightful-sounding piece. It is based upon the story of Gerald Ratner (right), some-time chief executive of the eponymous jewellery chain who in 1991 described one of his own products as "total crap" and promptly lost his job (and many of his rich and famous friends). It certainly has all the highs and lows of a musical, and a happy ending--the man once known as "Crapster" now runs GeraldOnline.com, a successful jewellery business.

But will it have the tunes? And what rhymes with Gerald?

* So, was the play really the thing? Not judging by the fact that Kate Betts's On the Third Day, winner of Channel 4's scriptwriting X Factor, is closing early after a critical mauling ("flattered with attention", "I couldn't believe a word", et cetera, et cetera). But perhaps this shouldn't have been a surprise. At a Channel 4 arts dinner weeks before the play opened, the producer Sonia Friedman (below) let slip to me that she thought the play "ropy", swiftly correcting herself and saying, "Any new play from a first-time writer is bound to be ropy." What, like Look Back in Anger? Harold Pinter's The Room? David Hare's Slag?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

* I gather Jeanette Winterson, the hit-and-miss novelist, is writing her first ever film script, based on her first ever book for children, Tanglewreck. …

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