Before I start this blog, I’d like to point out I am by no means experienced in the world of theatre criticism. I know this shocks many of you who automatically assumed a cat like me would be damn well experienced in everything from the ways of lady killing to plate spinning, but promptly supporting all non-deceiving appearances, I’m not very good at a lot of things, theatre critiquing being number 278 on a list of several thousands. However, I feel I’m qualified enough to know when a performance is a steaming turd of boredom. To say I know nothing about the theatre would be a lie. Years of being a drama student in GCSE, A Level and then degree mean I’ve seen a lot of plays, studied a lot of plays and acted in a few plays, once as a statue in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was 6. That was pretty much a pivotal point in my career. Ever since then people have often looked past me as though I could have been made of stone and I wonder if that’s just my inability to ever let that precious role go.
I rarely get to go to the theatre anymore, due to the life of gigging which renders any fun evening activities into non-happenings. So when I do go, I usually try and be careful about what I see. Theatre can be amazing. It can be properly, knock-you-back-and-make-you-speechless amazing. I’m still in awe of a production called Streets of Crocodiles by Complicite that I saw when I was 17 and more recently a production by the same people called A Disappearing Number which confused me and delighted me all at once. I’m not going to explain why, partly because they were pretty complex plays and it would take several blogs to do a synopsis of either, but also because, and here’s the crucial bit, my lack of theatre critic abilities would not do either justice. Just trust me, they was both well wicked. Then on the other hand, when theatre goes bad, it can be excruciating. This has happened to me very rarely, with one notable case being Ralph Fienes in Brand, a Bertold Brecht play that was meant to be performed with some degree of 4th wall removal and the notion that ‘it is a play’ (that’s was Brecht did do or summat like that) but had this been done in any more wooden a fashion I would not have been surprised if a lumberjack had walked on stage and gathered all the cast up for his fire. That was and still is, the only time I’ve left a play before its finished.
Last night however, I really wanted to repeat that gesture. Now, before I launch into why oh why it was such a sack of tedium, I would like to point out that it was a preview showing so things may change and its probably cheeky to be detrimental so early on. However me and Layla took this into consideration, as did our friends Mat and Hannah, and against the odds, decided we would go anyway as it’d be fun. It was too, starting the night with a Chinese in China Town where the waiters spat more venom as they delivered each course than some sort of dangerous snake, and then during the play when we would childishly make each other giggle with expressions of torment at the on stage goings on. And now, after two paragraphs of waffle, why I thought the play last night was rubbish:
It was two hours of nothing. That is it. Two hours where people talked with words that no one would ever really say, over exaggerated gestures and emotions that didn’t exist and you didn’t care about. It was a pile of conceited nothing. A play about an actor who is secretly gay but isn’t allowed to be because Hollywood won’t like it. He has an agent who is lesbian and bolshy, there is the rent-boy he has fallen in love with and a girl that has absolutely no point in being in the show till the last five minutes when the script writer who had obviously been in a real hurry to leave the house that day, had just shoved her in in a quick ‘let’s tie up all the strands in the way a 7 year old would’ way. The cast was made of some very strong actors and they were all very good too and played their roles as best as could be done given the script contained such retarded lines as ‘I should change my name to the Netherlands cos I go dark so quick’. If anyone would like to try and explain what that line means I will give you a prize. I can only assume they meant Finland or Scandinavia in terms of daily sunlight during the winter months, but ignorance conquered wit once again.
I didn’t connect with any of the characters, often found I just didn’t know what everyone was going on about and mostly really didn’t give a fuck. It had no deeper meaning, wasn’t insightful about anything and seemed to be a play about celebrity culture which had celebrities in the cast without any sense of irony. Yet between two men prancing around their pants a lot, and the agent character making silly shouting noises, the audience loved it. It was a shame as everything about the production was done with a high standard lighting, set, etc, but it was just a terrible script. We all left the play asking ourselves how on earth a play like that could be commissioned for a West End run, and answering ourselves with the knowledge that its the sort of shallow mean-nothing shit that viewers of the X-Factor and readers of Heat will love. Its the sad truth that that dumbed down idiocy has now hit theatre too. Maybe its been there for ages but I haven’t been paying attention, and if that’s the case, its yet another medium that’s being killed off for anyone with any striving for intelligence. I did get an ice-cream in the interval though and that was pretty good.
So if you get a chance to go, don’t. Other than that we had a nice drink with my friend who’s involved with the show afterwards where we all vented similar thoughts and the rest of my birthday was ace too. I got some great presents and I spent an entire two hours configuring my new sat nav so that the icon that represents my car is now a picture of a banana. I’m not sure how long that will keep me amused for, but I’m reckoning quite a while. At some point I will splash out and get a comedy voice for it too, which will be funny for an even shorter amount of time and eventually I will revert all icons and voices back to default and realise either I am humourless or all the people that create this things are the sort of people who still laugh at ‘It’ll Be Alright On The Night’. Or at that play.
Rant over. If you don’t already, do download the Precious Little (or as I have decided to call it Precocious Spittle) podcast this week. Its a consistently funny podcast anyway – though not anywhere near as funny as Collins and Herring – but this week as they recorded it yesterday, its been dedicated to my birthday, which means I get continuous abuse throughout the hour and a bit. I have specifically tried not to have any involvement in the podcast for weeks, having previously emailed in etc. However it seems that Michael and James just can’t go on without mentioning me on a regular basis. I know, it must be tough to not refer to me as often as possible. Hee hee hee.
The website is HERE and you can download it from iTunes too.