A 1964 radio play
by Tom Stoppard
, for two voices. The action... no, there is no action... the dialogue and thoughts take place at 10 p.m. on 5 August 1962. Constance
is reading the M
volume of the encyclopaedia
, a subscription to which was a birthday present from her rich brother. Her husband Alfred
is dismissive of it. Then the news comes on and they hear of the death of Marilyn Monroe
Doesn't sound much? Well it's not. It's early; there are no good jokes in it, no witty interplay. But Stoppard remembers it fondly. He had originally written it as a short story, which had been rejected. He turned it into a 15-minute radio play for the BBC's Just Before Midnight series.
He was on a bus in Ladbroke Grove, hopeless and dejected. Then he read the review section in the Sunday Times, which gave it a brief but favourable mention. Suddenly he was a writer again and could do anything. He always remembers that for the 'importance' of critics.
His idea of what makes a good title has changed, of course.