12 AUGUST 1972, Page 9

Way out in the west

Tony Palmer

In the Future Now Michael Davie (Hamish Hamilton £3.00) This is a dangerous book, not just because it is occasionally inaccurate but more importantly because it is profoundly misleading. The subject matter is California today which Mr Davie interprets as meaning Los Angeles today, even treating San Francisco more or less as some northern suburb. Sacramento, the state capital, for example, is disposed of in a few lines. Yet a state nearly twice the size of the United Kingdom cannot be packaged in terms of one city, any more than Great Britain can be understood merely through metropolitan London's eyes.

However, borrowing from that peripatetic Californian, Lincoln Steffens, who visited the Soviet Union and reported that he had seen the future and it worked, Mr Davie concludes from his cursory visits to California that he, too, has seen the future feared he was working up to a touch of epilepsy. Dana Gillespie, as Mary Maudlin, makes a winsome thing of her perplexity in not knowing how to love him. "He's just a man," she croons, reminiscing like any latterday groupie: I've had so many men before, In many, many ways; he's just one more.

The libretto, as noted, hands the show to Judas — played, sung and screeched by Stephen Tate with demented fervour — but I came out a Herod man myself. I'd never make a bishop.