No betrayal in Lida Krüger's attempt to get closer to the real thing

17 December 2019 - 11:06
'Authenticity on the Postmodern Stage' by Lida Krüger.
'Authenticity on the Postmodern Stage' by Lida Krüger.
Image: Unisa Press

In the postmodern context, where originality is impossible, mimicry is not seen as something inauthentic, but as inextricably part of human existence.

Though all three had initially been dismissed as superficial, Harold Pinter's Betrayal, Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing and Patrick Marber's Closer use the theme of marital betrayal as a trope to explore metatheatrical and epistemological issues.

Authenticity has become increasingly fetishised since the advent of postmodernity, especially when considered in relation to theatre — a medium already perceived to be fake.

Authenticity on the Postmodern Stage is a study of how these three plays define and explore authenticity in the fictional and actual worlds of theatre: it explores arbitrariness in the construction and mediation of the characters' identities, from their own and the audience's perspectives; the significance of the audience's role in these plays; and how issues of authenticity, fictionality and dishonesty impact on a genre that depends on illusion.

Some scholars say that postmodernism has been supplanted by a new structure of feeling, which includes a return to authenticity within theatre. The debate on the succession of postmodernism falls outside the scope of this book — nevertheless, Lida Krüger argues that postmodernism does not entail a rejection of authenticity, but an exposé of its impossibility. Postmodernism is, therefore, very much concerned with authenticity and any attempt at locating the authentic is, therefore, not necessarily opposed to postmodernism.

Krüger's analysis offers a new interpretation of the three texts, drawing on postmodern and poststructuralist theories, particularly concerning the concept of authenticity in art and language.