One of the casualties of the 50’s dramatic revival was the well-made play. Is it returning with a new set of rules? Matt Trueman suggests as much in a recent Stage article.
Rule one is that every character goes on a journey. Rule two is to weave their journeys round musings on some bigger theme. Rule three is to communicate what the play is about by repeated words and themes – not, of course, so obviously that the audience won’t feel a glow of pride at understanding the meaning.
Trueman’s complaint is that great drama doesn’t have a meaning in that sense. It looks at the world and asks ‘what?’.
There is nothing wrong with craftsmanship. The problems start when it outruns inspiration.