Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Two Part Tango: York

The Two Part Tango: York

The next up on the icon trail was Bronte at York Theatre Royal. And the Bronte's tick every box on the DA Icon Test. For whilst Howarth is a bit lacking on quality tat (no glove puppet sisters there) it remains that they have their own tourist industry and you can freak yourself out by wandering around their house. Plus, should you need any more confirmation, Kate Bush sang about one of their novels. You don't get much more iconic than that.

I'd seen Bronte when it was at the WYP but, given the nature of my job, I'd actually seen it backwards (second half, first half) over the course of seven days. Which would be annoying were it not for that fact that we all know how it is going to end. They die. Tragically young and with hardly any time to shout Heathcliff between them. But if my oddly distorted viewing didn't damage the suspense then it meant that I felt I'd only half experienced what felt like a very good production.

As it was the production was rather enthralling. It celebrated the fact that it was telling a story, that we were half guessing at what life was like for the Bronte's, that this was theatre and the story could flip back and forth, pushing us on how we view those icons (and indeed Bramwell). Daddy Bronte's accent seemed to slip at the beginning but, other than that, the acting was pretty much faultless. And it made me feel soppy with the way it talked about writing and why women chose to do it.

Obviously, given that I'm a girl who'll cry at a couple of adverts and an episode of Neighbours on a good day, as soon as the play slipped into its tragic mode I was wondering how distracting it would be for me to find some tissues. Because the Bronte story always makes me cry and just because I knew it was coming didn't mean that its impact decreased. If that were the case I'd be able to read Little Women or The Voyage Out without needing the aid of a paper bag. And I'd definitely be able to get through Gatsby. But I can't. These things are still sad. And Bronte was even more sad because it was true. And the production made you connect with these characters on stage. Even the much maligned Bramwell. Charlotte's loneliness in the empty parsonage was almost crushing, which made her subsequent - brief - happiness even more poignant. And then, just to ram the message home, Bronte hit you with a 'could easily have been cured today' postscript.

It was another little bit of theatrical fairydust, but this time it made me love a couple of my icons even more.


cat said...

it really was a fantastic production wasn't it? it haunted me for days afterwards. and I loved it even more for having my Bertha; lusty, out of control, and grinding all over the stage! being a post-modern kinda girl, I enjoyed its self-consciousness too.

so, when do we go to Haworth?

Val said...

Ohhh, I want to go to Haworth too - can it be part of our Bronte Autumn?

cat said...

I saw a woman with a carrier bag from some wollen mill in Haworth this morning, that must be some kind of sign, right?

Val said...

Definately a sign! - you know how to spot them ;-)

Rosie said...

According to Tuesday's Guardian Haworth is to "twin" with Machu Picchu.

The advert that brings a lump to my throat at the moment is the one with the scarecrow - must be advertising a breakfast cereal I think:)

Corinne said...

We must go to Haworth (just noticing that I spelt it as in the timber merchants we deal with. Good lord). I need to go to the parsonage again.

Rosie,I saw the "twin" thing on the local news. Seemed suitably bizarre.