Theatre in Wales

Commentary and extended critical writing on theatre, dance and performance in Wales

A belated contribution to the Franco’s Basta

David Adams gives an overview of the issues raised by Dic Edward's play...

With Franco’s Bastard, it really did seem that we might at last have a piece of theatre that initiated political debate. How sad that most of the contributions fail to tackle either the arguments in the play or the ability of the play to deal with such arguments. I’m afraid the standard of "debate" from the Cayo faction only reinforces Dic Edwards’s implication that the nationalist lumpen proletariat (exemplified by Sion in the play) really are stupid and inarticulate.

I don’t want to defend the play or production, both of which I think are seriously flawed, but there would appear to be a good deal of myopia on both sides.

It seems to me that Dic, whom I admire and respect immensely as a writer and a person, has allowed his personal sense of alienation from the idea of "Welshness", much less anything like nationalism, to blind him to what is screamingly obvious to audiences - Franco’s Bastard says that the model for the central character, Julian Cayo Evans, was a fascist and then followed the familiar flawed logic of Cayo/Carlo was a Welsh nationalist, Cayo/Carlo was a fascist (and a nasty man), therefore all Welsh nationalsits are fascists (and nasty people).

I must admit I would be offended if a recently-deceased political hero of mine was ridiculed, had words put into his mouth, was portrayed as a psychopathic fantasist, an elitist, a racist, a rapist, a repressed homosexual homophobe, guilty of incest and Oedipal tendencies and whose only qualities seem to be being articulate. It simply isn’t enough to be a fascist, apparently.

On the other hand I support wholeheartedly the right of a playwright to use any material to attack fascism, especially as there may well be a real danger of extreme right-wing parties (whether fascist or not) taking hold in Wales as in other parts of Europe. I am not convinced, however, that Franco’s Bastard is an effective weapon against fascism - it both topples over from satire and ridicule into absurdity and by choosing a real person to lampoon it personalises its target (which is surely nationalism rather than the half-baked ideas of the FWA). There is certainly an argument that nationalism is fascistic but to make it effectively I suspect you need to deal either in fiction or in historical fact - not something that may not be strictly biographical but which is blatantly based on a real person.

author:David Adams

original source: David Adams
08 May 2002


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