With Edward Bond, it can be difficult to see the plays for the man. His iconic place in the 60s and 70s British establishment and subsequent estrangement; his outspokenness about the political, theatrical and social agenda of his plays; those lengthy prose prefaces; even his intriguing persona as a kind of fierce, visionary Prospero, stomping about in East Anglian exile introducing youth groups to brave new worlds and drowning his Brecht in the Cam. All this means that fans of theatre are more likely to be familiar with his performance as a person than a performance of one of his plays.
So it was with pleasure, relief and even a little surprise that I watched Jonathan Kent's production of The Sea a few nights ago, in the play's first ever West End run, and realised that it's actually good. It works. It made me laugh, and feel sad, and really think about, as Bond himself puts it, "the moral and political paths people could take in the situation the world was in".