Tom Stoppard Wrote a Radio Play About Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon

08/29/2013 10:00 AM |

Trippy, bro

  • Trippy, bro

Laser light shows are the worst, especially when they “choreograph” Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I don’t know what the attraction is to light shows. I mean, even when you’re stoned, don’t lasers get kind of boring? And remember all of those stoner kids in high school, who had nothing else to talk about besides Dark Side and Sublime’s 40 Oz. to Freedom, who made you hate Pink Floyd and Sublime for no other reason than those kids liked it?


I don’t hate Pink Floyd now, and they’ve unfairly taken on that stereotype of classic adolescent burn-out stoner music, and I blame it all on the choreographed laser shows that were popular when I was growing up. I’ll hate those for the rest of my days, but browsing around on Open Culture the other day, I saw this gem: “Darkside.”

“Darkside” is a radio play by the great Sir Tom Stoppard for BBC2, visualized with the internet’s version of the choreographed laser show: fancy animations. I haven’t listened to the whole thing, but it is, unfortunately, possibly something that you will want to listen to just a bit under the influence. If only for the ridiculous plot and narrative frame.

It opens with, appropriately, the beating heart that also begins on the LP, and then the play commences with concerned citizens watching a train full of passengers about to fall off of a bridge. “Let me through!” A deep-throated voice says. “I’m a moral philosopher.” Ethics Man, a sort-of superhero, switches the train’s path away from doom, but it ends up killing a small child on the other track. It was all a thought experiment for university students, we find out, to challenge students’ moral understandings. Is one life’s end better for the whole society, is the question. The kid never existed. He was a “thought experiment.” Or did he? For Emily, one of the main characters, soon embarks on an adventure with the “thought experiment” either in her mind or in “reality.” “I felt my heart beat,” he says. Oooooh.

Will they fall in love? Can the world of ideas ever beome actual? Will Dark Side become less stereotyped? Cheesy and heavy-handed as it is, it’s totally better than the laser show. And much more engaging than staring up at a wall. You’ve got five days left to stream it, so get on it.