Pity the child of the 80s. Causeless rebel of the liberal, wealthy west, I often feel that all the blistering innovations in theatrical form and style have already been played out on the great national chessboard of 60s and 70s artistic affray, leaving me to tinker with the lonely noughties lego of individual revelation. In short, I have a sneaking suspicion: Theatre is dead (long live theatre).
It was watching the Almeida's new Homecoming that started me off. I emerged moved, disturbed and challenged - but with a certain longing to attend the 1964 Cardiff world premiere of the play, where Benedict Nightingale remembers "people stumbling past me bleating in druidical dismay". Stumbling? Bleating? For all the accomplishment of Michael Attenborough's production and the enduring relevance of Pinter's evocation of the uncomfortable truth about what it feels like to be a human being, the best my fellow Islington attendees and I could manage were wry smiles and appreciative murmurs as we sashayed out onto Upper Street. We all now know what to expect from Pinter's "cruel, gruesome and deliberately offensive" style, which so dramatically divided critics when it first emerged.
Will we ever have premieres like that again? Not just ones that delight or dismay, but ones that change our assumptions about theatre forever?