More info from Roundabout about #LLLPlay #richardarmitage [spoilers]

Here. Question is: why are they posting this in the last two weeks of the production? Would have been more helpful two months ago.

Two issues with this stuff.

First, as I have written a few times now, the U.S. audience has basically no awareness of the poll tax riots situation, and it’s one line in the play. I think it would be significant to understanding the play if the U.S. audience knew what they were talking about, but as it is, one line isn’t going to accomplish that for us.

Two, the question of home buying in the UK. As I noted yesterday, for U.S. audiences Rose’s request (“buy me a house”) seems extreme to U.S. audiences and Xers in particular found ourselves asking “why didn’t she ask for help with a downpayment?” I had actually read the Guardian article linked in the Roundabout piece when it appeared, but I think that it lacks specific information about buying a house in the UK and in London that we simply don’t have in the U.S.

A fan friend responded to my question via Twitter:



Based on this, I conclude that what seems like a crazily extreme demand from Rose to a U.S. audience might seem like a potentially more practical one to a UK audience. This in turn would affect my perception of Act Three. It might make me more sympathetic to Rose.

~ by Servetus on December 7, 2016.

27 Responses to “More info from Roundabout about #LLLPlay #richardarmitage [spoilers]”

  1. Only because daughter #2 has dreams of living in London someday, what does one need to earn to afford a decent home/flat?

    • I think it depends a lot on where you live. My impression is that most singles flatshare. It also depends on what kind of housing (studio apartment, one bedroom flat, terraced house, semi detached, fully detached) and proximity to public transportation / connections to desirable areas. This is an interesting rental price map:

      One of the problems that the play alludes to but doesn’t really make concrete (again, probably because everyone in England knows this) is that taxes are higher. In exchange, public services are more comprehensive (esp: National Health Service, public transportation) if not necessarily higher quality. EU membership feeds into this as well (something that was a source of complaint in the Brexit debates).

      But if you think: starting salary for a teacher in London might be 28k GBP plus benefits. 20 percent goes in income tax; one potentially has student loans to pay back since UK universities started charging tuition in 1998. if average housing in London exceeds seven times average gross annual income, that’s a dreary picture. I have a good friend who’s very comfortable in London; she rents a studio apartment in East Dulwich. But she works at a high level for an international investment bank.

    • London is very expensive. Check out this to get an idea :
      I live in zone 2 (tube map) and pay about £1,800 rent for a two-bed with garden in a family-friendly area. If I’d buy this house it would cost something around £600,000. A four-bed was sold for a little over £900,000 in my street recently…and we’re not talking posh area by any stretch of imagination….

  2. When I read the play, my reaction was to gasp at Rose’s request because we’re talking about an awful lot of money here – unless Ken and Sandra are really filthy rich. If any of my kids asked me to buy them a house, I’d burst out laughing. ‘In your dreams! Wait for your inheritance!’ And since so many of the boomers own rather valuable houses, having bought at a good moment in history, yes, a lot of the younger generation stand to inherit quite a lot. They should just be grateful for that and be glad that their parents were sensible enough to buy a house when the going was easier and will doubtless leave this asset to them. Can I just add that this house-buying business was often not an easy ride: properties then were often old and in a dreadful state and much of the boomers’ time, money and energy was spent on major improvements which they carried out themselves. What I don’t know about plumbing, roofing, damp-proofing, painting and wall-papering is nobody’s business, LOL!

    • Here I am merely pointing out a problem in the plot if it is viewed from a U.S. perspective. For comparison, a US lender will typically let people borrow up to 2.5x annual income with a 20 percent downpayment on a house over 30 years (in the housing markets I’ve lived in — I admit that I’ve never understood the NYC or San Francisco markets.) This seems to be drastically different from Rose’s situation and would affect how an audience here would perceive the play.

      However, your comments reflect exactly the reason that I can understand why people think this play is facile (as I noted in the previous commentary on Act Three) — because it doesn’t actual rephrase the question of generational relations in any way. It simply causes people to harden in the reactions they already had, as seem to have been the case with you.

      For instance, I might respond to you: In the world of the play, Rose does acknowledge her parents’ work — pointing out that they were beneficiaries of the generation who survived the war–, but the play also points out that those have paid off quite well. Kenneth owns a house in Birmingham that is solely for the purpose of generating rental income (apparently). And it tells us that he is netting 60 thousand pounds a year (significantly more than a starting teacher in the UK makes — I thought it was troubling that Rosie’s 20k pounds were only a third of her father’s retirement income until I looked at starting salaries in many of the professions in the UK. I knew that professional salaries were considered low in the UK, for instance, but I had no idea.) Given those facts — the salary structure in the UK, the nature of the London housing market with entry level housing prices exceeding seven times average annual income, and the limits on lending to poor borrowers — while I don’t agree that her situation is all her parents’ fault, I do wonder why, given the structure of the situation, her request is so unreasonable. And the end of the play seems to suggest that Kenneth and Sandra feel no obligation even to care for their near-incompetent son, let alone to allow Rose to inherit — Ken wants to sell his house and spend the money on a world trip with Sandra. If Rosie waits for inheritance with these parents, she may well end up high and dry.

      Naturally, I’m not saying the world of the play corresponds to your world or circumstances. However, if this play only causes people to be confirmed in their convictions, then it is really a failure. Unfortunately it is liable to that charge.

      • Just a quick correction–in the play Ken says that his retirement income is actually 80,000 not 60,000. And an anecdote to share–after one of the performances I attended I left near an older couple who were talking about the play, and I overheard the husband say to the wife that they should buy a ticket for their daughter (who I assume was fully grown). I couldn’t help joke a bit and said to the man that if they do they better beware that their daughter may ask them to buy her a house. Their response? Too late, they already had! And it came up again in the celebrity series on Sunday when an audience member who asked a question mentioned that she already bought a house for her own daughter. I think that this may be a more common situation for the Roundabout subscriber audience–many of them are affluent and probably have helped their children financially, especially if they live near/in NYC where very few residents can afford to invest in real estate and many need some form of parental financial support well after graduation and even if they are employed.

        • I hadn’t noticed the difference from the script, but it makes sense insofar as right now it’s hard to imagine anyone living in London on less than 20k GBP per year.

          I’m always skeptical when Americans say they bought someone a house (not that I doubt that the Roundabout audience is disproportionately affluent), just because in our idiom people say they own their own homes when they really mean that they make mortgage payments. However, I do not doubt that there are some Americans who buy children homes free and clear. Just that it’s not a standard experience for an American audience (I’m not specifically writing these comments from the viewpoint of a Roundabout audience member because I don’t know that much about them apart what I can surmise by looking at them.)

          • About New Yorkers or RTC subscriber’s buying their children a house – whatever those parents did ( who were overheard) it was most likely to help or “buy” a house out of New York City or an apartment condo/coop in NYC. And I agree that in most cases, parents facilitate the purchase, but hardly any home-buyer buys a house for cash these days. My experience is they help with the down payment and/or joint ownership (or guarantees) so there is a stronger income and asset history for the lender. For apartments, parents may help with the downpayment and the mortgage payment, while kids pay maintenance. And in some cases, I’m sure there are children who pay back their parents over time. As said, the downpayment is the biggest hurdle.

            • re: not buying houses for cash — that’s my impression, too. The only people who make cash purchases are developers / flippers. Otherwise, given that you probably won’t die in the property you’re buying, it doesn’t usually make sense to tie up that much equity if you have better investment opportunities. (Although NYC might be an exception to that rule, I suppose, since its property market never seems to stagnate, let alone depreciate in value.)

              • I’d add the CIA, for safe houses and mobsters, for buying with cash.

              • Actually cash buys have become increasingly frequent in NYC, especially in areas with a big Asian population (i.e. Flushing, Queens) where people from China especially have been buying apts with cash offers and often squeezing out people who offer 20% down payment and have a pre-approved mortgage, even those with great credit ratings. I know personally of 3 such experiences in the past 6 months of people who had their offers turned down because the seller received a cash offer, even if the cash offer was for less than what others were offering. Just another way that the real estate market in NYC is getting even more difficult!

          • I did notice that he said 80,000 in the play, and I knew in the script, it was 60,000. Inflation? Or maybe they assumed Americans would be thinking in terms of dollars, and $60,000 net is comfortable, but 80k affluent. I’m guessing, some audience members, like me, were doing some conversion to figure the amount in dollars. In Pounds Sterling, 60k would be a nice income for doing nothing. 80,000 pounds net seems off the charts for retirement.
            What your commenters are telling us is that the best Kenneth an Sandra could probably do was buy a house in their name, and let her live in it.

            • Yeah — or possibly, sell the Birmingham house and buy something in London and let her live in the house and pay off the differential. Maybe she’d still need a housemate but at least she wouldn’t be pouring rent down the drain with no hope of ever getting a downpayment together.

              I suppose a question we need to ask ourselves, though, is (given the farcical nature of so much of the play) how seriously we’re supposed to take the whole plot point. I think a lot of the people I talked to were sort of trying to “fix” the third act — they wanted Rose to appear more reasonable. To me, whether the play wants that is an open question. If it’s a comedy of manners, I’d say, no, because the play gains comedy from Rose’s outrageousness. If it’s a drama with a lot of comedic elements, then maybe yes.

      • Serve, I agree with you completely that the play is facile, hardly scratching the surface of a very complex situation and painting everything with a very broad brush. I answered in a similarly facile manner. I did, in fact, buy one daughter a house when she was at university, living in a cheap, Northern town. It was a sensible transaction. She rented out rooms which paid me for my loss of interest and when she sold it after her 5 year course and paid me back, I let her and her siblings keep the increase in value. I certainly couldn’t afford to buy any of them houses now in the expensive areas in which they live, especially since I wouldn’t be getting the money back: like Kenneth, I need it for my retirement. But, they have got onto the property ladder and I help out from time to time. So, I’m not as harsh as I first sounded. But, I still snort at Rose’s request, even if Kenneth is a landlord.

        • Aha! 🙂

          I think that’s not unusual — and done that way, it certainly makes financial sense. One might as well use one’s assets effectively to further one’s interests. My father actually suggested this to me when i was in grad school, but I didn’t plan to live (and then actually didn’t) in the town for the five years that probably would have been necessary to break even on the deal. Even historically speaking — middle class families have had all kinds of schemes to redistribute wealth across families while parents are still living.

  3. Pity they are only posting this now. Not everyone is aware of the historic incidents and the economic situation in the UK at various points during the play… The article in the Indo is really interesting. Worth reading even after watching the play.
    As is the Guardian article. For further illustration, from real life: I know a co-founder of a London start-up (which is currently doing very well thanks to providing services in a growth area of industry). She is single, in her early 40s. Presumably earns a salary around £70k (which is actually not bad at all). Nonetheless, she does not own a home in London but shares a house in a suburb where prices are lower! Another London friend – early 40s, similar salary, married but only one income – has the Rosie situation down: Parents invested their money in a flat for her, in an up-and-coming area of London. Otherwise would be impossible for her to own her own property in London.
    However, despite knowing the situation the play is based on, and despite being a member of Gen X myself, I still felt Rosie’s demand was disproportionate, much like you explained so eloquently in your previous post. But I have to admit that I feel a certain amount of anger and jealousy towards the Boomer generation for not sharing their wealth a bit more wisely. I think I am as confused as the play…

    • I feel like the play wants us to think that Rose’s inability to accept responsibility for her choices and her demand that her parents buy her the house should both be seen in the same light. I’d say looking at it from outside the play, though, that they are connected but not the same thing. The reasonability of the respective claims could be entirely separate.

      What tires me out about this discussion (and had already done so long before Armitage was in this play) is the defensiveness with which it is conducted. Nobody wants to be responsible for anything that’s “happened,” no one actually did anything (and that includes the boomers as well as the Xers). There’s some quality to modern life that somehow makes it allowable for individuals to eschew the results of decisions they made merely because they made them in groups, and similarly say that things can’t be changed because a huge group of people would have to agree. It makes it sound like things like the condition of the economy are entirely accidental somehow. Kenneth and Sandra were “just lucky” (as she says) and their children were just unlucky. I also get tired of the argument that just because some superhuman person managed to survive a bad situation and come out on top, that means anyone can and thus everyone should. I feel like a lot of our movies and culture imply this right now and the focus on the one heroic individual is very damaging to young people, particularly in the current economic atmosphere.

      re: boomers — I have a long history on this question. I don’t care so much about their accumulated wealth at present (although that might change in the current atmosphere, depending on what our next presidential administration does to the tax system). What used to drive me crazy in the late 80s/early 90s was being told that Xers aren’t political enough. My undergrad profs were mostly boomers and they were always talking about how we don’t care about anything, we don’t demonstrate to fulfill our political goals, etc. From my perspective, the boomers ruined the (limited) utility of demonstration. I tended to feel that because there were so many of them, they assumed their worldview was standard and we should all share it. Where I do concretely have a beef with them, frankly, is the way that they dried up particular kinds of public resources — affordable access to universities being high on that list — because they got so involved in the anti-tax push of the 80s (right after they all graduated from college and so didn’t need cheap tuition anymore). At the moment I’m really frustrated with them on two counts: (1) the fact that central bank policy seems to be inflating the stock markets in order to support their retirement, at what cost isn’t clear; and (2) the apparently impossibility about having a rational discussion — and here I’m definitely not saying the GOP proposals are rational, but we need to have a rational discussion — about balancing their entitlement costs (social security, Medicare) with the needs of the neglected millennials for training, education, etc.

  4. Why they didn’t post this before is a great question, but strengthens my hunch that this play might be in talks to move to a “Broadway” theatre. It looks like several Broadway plays are scheduled to end at some point in January. I might go out on a limb & wonder aloud whether if A Person were not in “every” episode of their TV series for the next season, they might be able to cram all their filming into about a month, and fly back to wherever they needed to be 😉 But I admit to having a very active imagination 😀

    • In conjunction with that profile last week, I’m wondering about that too. I’ll be surprised if that happens but certainly happy for the play. (although a part of me wonders if he doesn’t find this play somewhat boring.) I’ve been wondering if that’s what the Today Show is about — although that doesn’t fit especially well, either.

      • After Love Love Love was listed as #2 on Time’s list of best plays of 2016 (is that right? was it Time Mag??), I felt it really could happen. I’m not sure it would matter if he was a little bored with the play, compared to the value of having arrived on literal Broadway. If the play only has a limited Broadway run, I’d be really surprised if he didn’t go for it. He could start an endless cycle of theater triumphs on both sides of the pond feeding into each other (well he COULD! :D) – who knows, maybe even some plays on the continent?

        I’m very curious about the Today Show too…. they seem to discuss TV and movies, but not so much theater. Seems more likely that he’d be pushing Berlin Station with the new “binge it all” option, to get people hyped for S2. But I agree, it’s unclear.

        • It WAS Time:

        • Agree re: Time. (And great reviews in the NYT and WSJ — and what the New Criterion reviewer said was also significant, even if it won’t be as widely read.) I don’t think the play is as epic as all that but clearly important theater critics disagree.

          I’d have to do more research into this question, but given that Roundabout’s business model is so heavily based on subscribers, I wonder how they manage a “sudden” transfer, as in, in the next month. I see that they did that for “The Humans” last year — it ran in limited engagement in 2015 and then opened on Broadway in February 2016 and ran until the summer. Maybe the increased sales made them confident this would work out? (don’t know).

          However, I’m skeptical he could do BSt in a month. It took 5 months last time. So if we’re talking immediate transfer that would mean either the play or BSt. If we’re talking later transfer, hard to see how he could be in Yael Farber’s play unless it were delayed until well in 2017 …. choices, choices.

  5. When is RA on the Today show?

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