Is the shrew about to sue? Germaine Greer is currently the subject of a West End play, except she’s not.

Joanna Murray-Smith’s Female of the Species is beginning a run at London’s Vaudeville Theatre, and all the publicity makes no bones about the connection of the premise — famous feminist held captive by a demented fan — to the real life event in which La Greer’s farmhouse was invaded by same about a decade ago.

Having thereby grabbed headlines, the play then cries off any resemblance. Sure, right. Greer’s been in the press asking: “Why do the production team and the writer keep on referring to me, Germaine Greer, if they say it is not Germaine Greer they are writing about?”

The fictional feminist is named Margot Mason, her key work is The Cerebral V-gina, and the play is a debate about boundary issues between older and younger feminists. No, no resemblance whatsoever.

On BBC Radio Four’s Front Row, in an interview that sounded more like the preview of a cross-examination, Greer’s former colleague Mark Lawson made it clear that he didn’t buy the “any resemblance is purely, etc” crap at all.

“Right from the beginning I knew I didn’t want to write about Germaine Greer,” Murray-Smith said.

“Except the character also likes pronouncing foreign words exactly and Italian culture,” Lawson deadpanned.

So far, so standard issue. Playwrights do this “aw shucks” routine with real material because no-one cares about plays anymore. But, they are quite interested in Greer gossip.

So have the producers over-reached themselves?

The script describes “Margot” as a monster who has “ruined people’s lives”. Word is that La Greer, who is generally anti libel suits, is reserving her rights.

Will the season get an extension at the royal courts of justice?

Peter Fray

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