|Image: London Evening Standard|
Shakespeare seems the obvious place to start. The Tempest is ok, but everyone knows that the tragedies are Shakespeare's greatest work, while the histories are all about the bizarre squabbles of the Royal Family. Of the predicted one billion global watchers, who wouldn't be thrilled in this Diamond Jubilee year to see a Hamlet/Othello/Romeo and Juliet Royal mash-up, featuring Kate and William as star-crossed lovers, with Mohammed Al-Fayed as Iago convincing William that Prince Philip killed his mother?
Back before the Olympics and the Jubilee took over the British public attention, this year was all about Charles Dickens. In fact, Dickens' style seems almost serendipitously perfect for the occasion. An enormous cast from every area of society, too much happening at once to keep track of, a hugely contrived narrative with a happy ending (not to mention farcically inefficient bureaucracy) - are we sure he isn't involved already?
Another voice-of-the-people candidate would be Geoffrey Chaucer. Once again he could match tonight's show for the range of society covered, plus Troilus and Criseyde suggests that he could bring in some appropriately pulpy Ancient Greek elements. Besides, the show starts at 9pm so Chaucer's strongly post-watershed style has the perfect chance to shine through...
If you're even more of an Olympics cynic, T.S. Eliot might be the writer for you. His poetic beliefs included the idea that poetry ought to be difficult, and not for the common man. Equally though, a Eliot-inspired collection of baffling allusions to British and Classical culture, strung together with no immediately discernible pattern, does sound eerily plausible. We've been promised tonight will feature the often-mentioned British sense of humour, and I for one would find it darkly hilarious if Kenneth Branagh abandoned Caliban to solemnly recite The Hollow Men to 90000 baffled spectators.
Of course, these are just a few of the endless possibilities. Could we use a little of Agatha Christie's mysterious spirit to keep us interested? How would Blake's bizarre poetic visions translate onto the Stratford turf? Or should we face facts and embrace One Direction as our new national poets? Let us know in the comments!