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Nervous laughter

While other critics are enchanted with Stoppard's new play (see page 71), Herb Greer thinks it is tedious and untheatrical, "enjoyed" by intimidated punters straining to be in on something

By Herb Greer   November 1997

As the lights went up on Tom Stoppard’s new work, AE Housman stepped forward, announced he was dead, and quite a few members of the audience giggled. A few laughed. I smiled, remembering some lines from Ezra Pound’s Mr Housman’s Message: “O woe, woe/People are born and die/ We also shall be dead pretty soon/ Therefore let us act as if we were dead already.”

Did that inspire (or provoke) Stoppard to write The Invention of Love? And did the audience laugh because they too had read Pound?

Similar riddles make up a lot of the play: who was right…

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