Bad week for Judi Dench. The national treasure was voted the best stage actor of all time by readers of The Stage. Ms Dench is no doubt entirely bored by these sort of accolades, or let’s hope so because Michael Billington is having none of it. Barely could The Stage announce the results before he shot back with an article entitled “Is Judi Dench really the greatest actor ever?” and presumably subtitled, in his mind at least, “Not bloody likely”. According to Mr B, such exercises are “meaningless” and “a marketing exercise”, because (a) it’s an “absurdity” to compare the living and the dead and (b) because three dead people he liked weren’t on the list. Can’t argue with either of those points in isolation, but are they entirely consistent when put together? We’ll leave the semantics to the Guardian comments section (miow). Suffice to say that here at Sans Taste we think Judi’s brill – not least because of the, oft rediscovered and surely fictitious “that’s Dame bitch to you” story. But we shouldn’t pretend that her Juliet will ever compare to Edward Alleyn.
Good week for power. The Times published (well, sort of published, it posted behind its paywall) its list of the 50 most influential people in theatre. The top of the list is pretty predictable and pretty artistic director heavy: Hytner up top with Grandage at five (watch this space Nick!), Boyd at seven and Cooke at eight. Rylance deservedly clocks in at nine but SRB feels a little neglected at 18 (I mean, who else on the list has been in Spooks?). Mike Bartlett is a little surprising at only 39. The big news, of course, is that The West End Whingers make an appearance at number 50. It has to be said that the way the Times sells it (“We wouldn’t normally list bloggers…”) is a bit of a backhanded compliment, especially since other Murdoch papers haven’t been above cutting and pasting a bit of the Whingers work even before “Paint Never Dries”, but this sort of recognition is still good going for the duo and bloggers as a whole. I’m reliably informed I was 51.
Bad week for Alan Bennett. We heard back in June that he got his wallet, containing £1500, pickpocketed in a shop in Camden. The biggest question at the time – for me at least – was “why on earth did he have £1500 in his wallet?” Is Bennett now so enormously wealthy that he carries vast sums of cash around on him, trying to pay for a pint of milk with a £50 note, having entirely lost track of how much things cost in the ordinary world? Do the National make him pick up his ongoing royalties from the History Boys in cash on a daily basis? Was The Habit of Art just a complex money laundering scheme? Is that why he didn’t finish the script? Sadly, as we learned this week, there is a more pedestrian explanation: he was paying his builders. How banal. How disappointing. Although, when you think about it, how very Bennett.