Top positive review
Random Pieces of Life
on 20 January 2014
These are delightfully short playlets originally featured in standalone pieces in the Guardian newspaper. Collected in one volume, this compilation offers a glimpse of the mundane through the snatches of everyday dialogue around Britain (which the playwright supposedly overheard), which ranges from the uproariously funny to the touchingly tender.
Each of the 94 playlets are numbered, with a short description, and this rather concise introduction works surprisingly well, as the reader launches straight into the midst of the dialogue and discover what the issue is. It could be an insight into the social mores, like the two elderly women who fight to pay for tea at a cafe in Lichfield, till the politeness turns into something of a power struggle.
In another snippet, a young man tries to sell his copy of a Bob Dylan album at a used record shop in Derby, and unwittingly upsets the guy behind the counter,a serious music aficionado who is shocked with his lackadaisal attitude to what he obviously esteems as high art. However, the young man fails to see what the fuss is about:
Tim: Not a big fan of him.
Bill: 'Him'? Sort of like saying you're not a fan of breathing.
Tim: I never heard anything by Breathing.
A businessman, Alan, laments about his foreign domestic help to his friend Gordon. When he refers to her as Latvia, Gordon is surprised, and Alan explains: "I just think it's disrespectful when you don't know how to say someone's name properly. So this works."
In capturing what people say in a direct manner, Taylor manages to reveal how sometimes we say more than we know, and are none the wiser for how transparent and contradictory we are. The plays work because they make an acute observation of how people talk but fail to communicate, or even if they do, they listen only to what they want to, filtering out the rest.