That's why I thought the play was misconceived. AFAIK Caulfield's idea that Cooper wished to perform in one of Ionesco's plays (which I think does crop up in GCCG) is not based on any evidence, but it is just something to support the play's conceit. As to his talents being restricted to a particular field, I think that's true of many outstanding performers or artists - very few in history have had exceptional talent in more than one field.
Cooper's final performance, in which he died of a heart attack during an act that was being broadcast live on TV, is perhaps more appropriate for the ending of a Ionesco play, especially as other performers and the audience thought that his collapse was part of the act.
This thread has encouraged me to to listen to the play. On finding it hard to see a connection between difficulties in life and humour, surely the two are so closely connected - Tony Hancock, Kenneth Williams, Spike Milligan, John Cleese, John Le Mesurier, Phil Silvers, Peter Sellers......the list of comedians who have had significant problems in their lives is almost endless.
I've listened to the first half hour again, but it sounded - astonishingly! - pretty much the same as it sounded first time. Aeolium made the point in Msg #18 about other plays dealing with the flawed lives of comedians, but where exactly is the focal point of this play? Ionesco invites him over to Paris: is it incidental that they discuss the 'plot' of The Chairs or does that connect more closely with what the play is saying?
.........I found it easy to follow and quite enjoyed it. Russ Abbot's portrayal of Cooper was nothing less than brilliant. I did look for deep meaning but couldn't find it. That left me feeling a little hollow but relieved in a way that there wasn't more to it. This is probably how Cooper should have felt to have been happier and it is almost what his act did for his audience. It enabled them to escape from their serious concerns temporarily into a realm of the amusingly absurd.
This is not to say that I didn't have observations about the play. Critical comedy can be dark. Other comedy that revels in what some might view as unacceptable generally has a sinister element. It is always about division and often about a comedian's need for aggressive control. Generally it is a cop out from responsibility. Cooper was always acceptable to a family audience. That may not have been a conscious decision. Still, it meant that he was inclined to self-restraint in his profession. This shows a seriousness of intention. It was also probably a burden for him and others in his life.
I too thought that there was 'Allo 'Allo in the French setting. The more serious those characters became in aspiration, the more absurd they sounded. They were trapped in Cooper's own condition.
Given his background, the Ionescu figure was understandably attracted to Cooper's apparent lightness, particularly where it appeared that it could be accommodated in what might be termed serious absurdity. He found though that it couldn't be housed there fully because it had to be a counterpoint to something else. That, of course, was Cooper senior's fecklessness and then the comedian's domestic violence and aggression through drink against himself. Those were effectively the closed doors.
The agent Miff was the darkest character. He employed a moral voice to say to Cooper that he had responsibilities to him, his wife and his audience. He also knew that the comedian did as much as he could do without having the help, the time or the scope to sort himself out. The constraints he placed on him - that "don't go off on the seriously absurd" - were all about raking in money. He probably saw the jaunt as a gamble that would lead to financial ruin, thereby repeating the errors of Cooper's father, when Cooper generally viewed that history askew. The sadness is in the fact that Miff was right. It is that mechanism which made others happy while for Cooper it wasn't enough. At the end, the audience is encouraged to think fondly enough of Cooper but as light.
Last edited by Lateralthinking1; 23-09-11 at 01:49.
Lat, I'm sure they are closely connected - and you could add the great Peter Cook to that list. All I was saying was that plays or docudramas which focus on the problems in those comedians' lives are nearly always dull and unilluminating about what made their work so funny - I cannot recall one that was anything but a pale shadow of the real performances given by the comics.On finding it hard to see a connection between difficulties in life and humour, surely the two are so closely connected - Tony Hancock, Kenneth Williams, Spike Milligan, John Cleese, John Le Mesurier, Phil Silvers, Peter Sellers......the list of comedians who have had significant problems in their lives is almost endless.
IIRC, I didn't think in the play Ionesco did invite Cooper over at that time (possibly earlier) but Cooper was just fleeing one of his domestic situations. His agent expected him to be in one of the pub haunts near where he was living in England, and his wife clearly didn't expect him to be going anywhere far. Ionesco happened to be rehearsing Chairs and thought Cooper's absurd comedy would fit in well so it was tried out. As it happens, Cooper can't really work without a script or knowing what is supposed to happen and the rehearsal rather peters out.where exactly is the focal point of this play? Ionesco invites him over to Paris: is it incidental that they discuss the 'plot' of The Chairs or does that connect more closely with what the play is saying?
Looking at the plot of Chairs, I can't really see any connection with Cooper's own life, and I'm a bit mystified as to why the playwright chose this particular play.
His wife did think it was something 'different' because she saw him packing his small black case and had concluded he wouldn't do that if he was just 'going out'. (That came in the first 30 minutes, so I heard it again last night!)
I wonder whether The Chairs was chosen to give a good title? Glass Rhinoceros Rhinoceros Glass? Not quite as catchy!
Last edited by Lateralthinking1; 23-09-11 at 09:34.
Now, most dentist's chairs go up and down, don't they? The one I was in went back and forwards. I thought 'This is unusual'. And the dentist said to me 'Mr Cooper, get out of the filing cabinet.'