Loitering outside the National Theatre post-performance, we observed a flustered patron with a Daily Mail tucked under their arm, firing off the following letter in a rage
Dear National Theatre Director,
I am appalled to have nearly viewed such a scandalous piece of 'theatre physical' at your establishment tonight. I can only assume that your busy schedule provoked a lapse in judgement in programming Lloyd Newson’s company DV8, and that you were not fully aware of the piece's theme when you did so.
It is alarming that people should be encouraged to think about freedom of speech. This type of provocative work will only lead to curiosity, perhaps even open, multicultural discussions amongst common people.
Apparently, actors and dancers repeat verbatim from interviews with 40 individuals and organisations — including Islam4UK, Oxford University, New Statesman, the Government and high profile authors and journalists like Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens and Johann Hari — on racism, censorship, book burning, the Taliban, forced marriage and other inflammatory issues.
Can We Talk About This? clearly sets out to encourage thinking about race and rights issues. I am astonished that you have chosen to stage DV8's new work, especially over such a long period (13–28 March), giving the opportunity for thousands of people to see it. Are you trying to start riots?
Of course, once I'd read the programme notes I refused to enter the auditorium. It would have been an improper use of my time to consider the message DV8 wished to communicate.
I hope that you will see sense and cancel this show with immediate effect.
Can We Talk About This?, a dance-theatre show dealing with freedom of speech, censorship and Islam, is on at the National Theatre until Saturday 28 March. Tickets from £5.