I didn’t see it happen – I wasn’t there – but the scene was described to me in loving detail.
He is a movie and theatre critic for the local press, with a handful of books published with a variety of houses, and one staged play to his name. Let us call him Mr. C.
She is a very good director I know and work with. We’ll call her Nina.
One day Mr. C. approaches Nina and tells her he is writing a play about Joseph Conrad.
“Are you?” says Nina, whose company is currently rehearsing a play of mine about Joseph Conrad.
Mr. C. proceeds to explain how he means to stage a very philosophical dialogue between Conrad and Bertrand Russell. The two shared a very deep friendship, does Nina know, and so he conceives this one-act play with just two characters…
It hardly looks like my (already finished, mind) play could be construed as plagiarism by any stretch of the imagination, but the man isn’t known for his equanimity. Anxious to avoid future complications, Nina jumps in.
“What a coincidence!” she chirps at her most cheerful. “Clara just wrote us a play about Conrad. Clara Giuliani, you know her.”
Mr. C. chews the notion the way he would a green lemon. He does know me – and is not amused. He twists his mouth this way and that for a while, and then…
“Did she now,” he says. “I think I might give her some advice.”
“Oh, but the play is finished.” Nina shows him my title on the season’s poster. “Actually, we started rehearsals in Semptember.”
“Ah.” Mr. C. has grown icy. He glares at my title. “Very well,” he says. “Reserve a seat for me, will you?”
And, Nina says, he has this look, you know. The look of one who is going to shred my play to ribbons in print – just on principle.
First night still four weeks away, and I have a hostile review already. Ain’t it just great?