Billington complains about the 'general thesis' of the play, thus, says Neilson, not only misunderstanding the nature of his play but revealing an acceptance of the kind of play - the 'play-as-thesis' - which Neilson goes on to condemn:
This is the great danger of the play-as-thesis. It assumes that the play is an expression of the playwright's character. And, since playwrights desire approval as much as the next person, it leads to dishonest and complacent work. A play should reflect life as the playwright sees it - not as they, or anyone else, wishes it to be. If one sees a world in which there are no permanent truths, it is dishonest to fabricate them for the sake of approbation. Worse, it is a dereliction of duty. A play-as-thesis is by nature reductive, an attempt to bring order to the unruliness of existence. But bringing order is the business of the state, not the artist.Interestingly, a Guardian book blog yesterday by Sam Jordison echoes something of these sentiments in relation to JM Coetzee's Disgrace in particular (which he finds too much a novel-as-thesis) and Booker winners in general.