Monday, November 07, 2005

In Association With Lemsip

In Association With Lemsip

It's one thing for your blogging to be halted by the oncoming rate of your latest writing project, it's another thing entirely when you lose your blogging time to a stupid cold. Because said cold decided to settle on my chest making me wheezy and grumpy and requiring that I spend copious amounts of time in bed having weird dreams. And as much as I like weird dreams [one of which had me waking up with a smile like I'd had a coathanger in my mouth] there comes a point when wheezing is not fun. Especially when you know that you've got to get up and go to the WYP to give out oranges/balloons to the audience.

So when I wasn't in bed last week I was mostly trying not to pass any germs on to the patrons of the WYP [for various reasons - not all altruistic it must be said - I wasn't keen to phone in sick]. First up was Knee High Theatre's Tristan and Yseult [otherwise known as Tristan and the girl whose name nobody can pronounce] whose lovely audience members were the recepients of the balloons. Basically at some point in the first half, everyone had to blow their balloons up and then let them go. In a theatre. Can you imagine the mess? Or indeed the looks on people's faces when we explained this to them? But the house was practically sold out every night [even 500 for the Thursday matinee] and you'd have thought it was a pantomime rather than a play such was the audience participation. So quite enjoyable, even for an attendant with a wheeze and head full of extra strength cold medicine.

Next came World Cup 1966. An interesting premise it must be said in that it's probably not the first subject that you would think of for a play, let alone one at the WYP. Given that it was coming directly after My Mother Said I Never Should it was never going to quite hit those heights. But it was sparky, very interactive and rather a lot of fun. Not great, great theatre, but fun theatre. And there should be a place in the WYP's schedule for fun theatre, especially on such a subject matter that got lots of fathers with their sons in the audience [not a demographic we tend to get lots of]. The kids who got pulled up on stage, in one case changing the course of history [because Terry Paine didn't score it must be said] clearly loved it. And as I was distributing oranges at 'half time' [that would be half way through the 45 minute first act] I got to sit and eat orange for 45 minutes. The only downside to the production was that it very much required an active, loud audience, willing to shout, boo the Germans and do silly things up on stage in the name of football systems. Which was somewhat lacking in the Thursday matinee audience of 32. Possibly one of my easiest shifts at the WYP, it must be said.

On Friday it was time for some theatre on the other side of the fence - Blood Brothers at the Billingham Forum. Now I'd heard of Blood Brothers, and I knew the rough plot, but I'd never seen it, so I was quite looking forward to a show that is bordering on iconic for its very devoted followers. Nolan aside [could kind of sing, couldn't act, didn't have any real charisma on stage] I really enjoyed the show. It was slick, energetic and heart breaking. I cried for at least the last twenty minutes and was rather grateful for some loud members of the audience towards the end when I thought I was going to let out a tremendous sob. I couldn't help but put it next to the very eighties in out look My Mother Said, or the American eighties of Falsettos because if the outlook of the world of Blood Brothers is anything then it's the eighties. I enjoyed the somewhat relentless message of the play less than the story it must be said. Being hit over the head, even by Willy Russell, isn't much fun. I always think an audience - even a musical theatre one - needs to be allowed to do the work. Join the dots. Put two and two together. If the story and the acting is good enough then they will do. And Blood Brothers is a good enough show to allow you to draw your own conclusions. Having a 'narrator' is an interesting step in theatre, but it's one that I'm not madly keen on. As it was, when the rest of the theatre clamboured to their feet, I remained sitting. It was good enough to warrant clapping over the head, but not quite - by my somewhat exacting standards - good enough to warrant me to stand. I'd have stood for the actor playing Mickey Johnstone as I thought he was bloody fantastic, but they don't hand out little disclaimer cards before the show, so I didn't.

As if that wasn't enough, it turned out that Johnny from BB3 [y'know the fireman who was friends with Kate Lawler who I COULD NOT STAND] was seated in front of us. If you're wondering, he's very tanned and rather seemed to enjoy the show.


Val said...

YEY For the Theatre Snobs!

‘Let the records show’ I stand because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to see certain people in the curtain call ;-) – though I would stand for Stephen (Mickey) and Louise, who plays Linda.

Perhaps there is a market for these disclaimer cards?!

cat said...

I have no such high principles when it comes to standing ovations, or much else actually (I believe the Records have it Noted many times that I distance myself accusations of Theatre Snobbery). I would have stood anyway, even had Johnny "Big Head" Regan not been sat directly in front of me with his slightly less impressed companion. Stephen Palfreman (Micky) was excellent, but it was Louise Clayton as Linda who really broke my heart - a fantastic performance. But the least said about Linda Nolan the better I think...

Anonymous said...

I saw it last night.. Stephen Palfreman WAS fantastic.. (and totally fanciable? Or is that just me?) The whole cast was.. Thought Linda was fantastic too.. Have a nice day ! x