ABSTRACT

The Introduction outlined my view that contemporary culture is shaped by a forensic economy of legibility in which truth is constructed as that which can be evidentially verified. This economy, I argued, was maintained by three illusions (interiority, solvability, and transparency) and two imperatives (innovation and interactivity). In this chapter, I will read four works (first staged between 2007 and 2012) that show how these illusions and imperatives operate. Despite the formal and thematic diversity of the four works, I place them in conversation with one another to highlight their common intent to interrogate, and intervene in, the growth of optics-driven culture. Going Dark and Love and Information are formally experimental in very different ways; both model a theatrical poetics explicitly designed to resist the forensic’s economy of legibility. Situating their work in conscious dialogue with the playwriting of Arthur Miller and Harold Pinter, and with echoes back to Ibsen and even Shakespeare, Lucy Prebble in Enron and Joe Penhall in Landscape with Weapon adopt classical dramatic structure to counter the futuristic rhetoric of the forensic. Defying the middle-distance gaze afforded by the forensic culture of risk management, all four pieces take a long view of this culture. This view entails historicisation beyond the parameters of the techno-present, and oscillation between the cosmic and the intimate to break the shackles of the middle-distance mindset.