It’s published by Routledge, it cites Derrida, Foucault and Barthes, it’s about British Theatre – more specifically John Osborne – so all in all this is a shoo-in to be hated by me (I like D, F and B, but on the whole I hate academics who “cite” them). I only read it for research purposes, in re my own book, and really all I can say is: WOW! I don’t to be honest remember the last time I got so overexcited: pretty much every paragraph meant I had to go and walk round my sister’s house to process new ideas and information, and just calm down some.

Yes yes of course some of this excitement is simply because Dan Rebellato’s 1956 and All That is tremendously helpful to and supportive of some of my own wacky theories – but I think it’s more than that, a genuinely well researched, tightly written, piece-by-piece demolition of the lame self-promotional myths round the Look Back In Anger generation, how the “Angry Young Men” blew away their mannered, fusty and middleclass theatrical forebears, how they introduced a new openness, honesty and relevance, how they invented the 60s, the present etc zzz. In the face of this time-locked quasi-punky drama-rockism, Rebellato points out that i. Here was a movement which, far from being intrinsically anti-Establishment, adapted itself very artfully indeed to take advantage of the (relatively) new Art Council’s theatre-funding policies, ii. That this was a movement with a narrowly parochial little-Britisher anti-intellectual and anti-European bent, iii. That its public obsession with Brecht – which seems to counter ii – disguised a tendency to bowdlerise him and boil him down, until he was little more than the German Osborne, iv. That its struggle to professionalise theatre actually meant a class and cultural stratification in which the text became God, the director its infallible Pope, and everyone else – actors, designers, audience – were to be bullied into a passive unquestioning servitude, the artform collapsing from polylogue to monologue, v. that threaded through the entire project was a call to deliver theatre from the sinister threat of the gay underground of the 40s and 50s, the “blight of buggery” as one of the pioneers of the movement called it.

Well, the story’s complicated, not least because among the things this uprising helped achieve were A. the collapse of the system of theatrical censorship, B. the legalisation of homosexuality, C. the subsequent arrival – in the name of this new openness – of militant gay politics, and D. with this puritanical abolition of theatre-as-discussable-pleasure, the occlusion of drama as a dynamic presence in the UK. Osborne’s confused, self-absorbed anger ignited other, less reactionary, more democratic angers, you could say: as well as a significant renegotiation of the politics of pleasure. Anyway, now that I don’t feel stuck inside someone else’s poorly conceived promo material any more, and with the help of Rebellato’s guide to the buried queer subtexts in LBIA, I’ve actually got interested in JO. And even – gulp! – in British theatre. A bit. A BIT!!