Plays are generally quite good for reading during a day of county cricket. It doesn’t take all that long to read a play. In my case, this means I get to see cricket, read a play, do some general reading (e.g. from The Economist and/or The Week) and have time to do some socialising too.
In the spring of 2006, I was contemplating trying to write a second play before really having a go at amending my first one. Seeking ideas for underlying plot structure and devices, my mind turned to Greek drama, which I hadn’t really looked at since school. I bought a clutch of cheap paperback collections, one of which was Bacchae and Other Plays (Oxford World’s Classics), a collection of Euripides’s dramas including Iphigenia among the Taurians – click here for Wikipedia entry (which contains spoilers).
On 8 June 2006 I ventured to Southgate, to see Day Two of Middlesex v Yorkshire – click here for Cricinfo card (which contains spoilers) with Iphegenia in my hand (so to speak). I read the book’s introduction during the morning session. This was harder reading than the play itself, but I knew I needed to get my head back into Greek drama generally and Euripides in particular to stand any chance with reading the play.
After lunch, I found a quiet spot on the far side of the ground. After a short while, Michael Vaughan (who was then England captain, rehabilitating after injury) came to field right in front of me.
“What are you reading?” asked Vaughan.
“Greek drama,” I replied, showing him the cover of my book. “Euripides.”
“Greek drama! Is reading that more interesting to you than watching County Championship cricket?” asked Vaughan.
“I have learnt to do both at the same time,” I replied. “Hardly ever miss a ball if it’s pace bowling. Harder with the spinners.”
Michael Vaughan made one of his “I’m not convinced” grunts and then wished me well.
In truth, Iphegenia was hard work while watching cricket. It is basically an escape play, but the plot hinges on siblings Orestes and Iphegenia failing to recognise one another until a vital “big reveal” watershed moment. Lots of room for dramatic irony in that device but you need to suspend a heck of a lot of belief throughout the play.
In summary, Iphigenia among the Taurians is:
- Good for getting your head back into Greek drama
- Not really useful material for a modern play
- Good for attracting the attention of the England cricket captain (in my experience)
- Otherwise not really suitable as cricket match reading
Have you tried to read summat while at a cricket match? Let us know how it went at firstname.lastname@example.org