Friday, February 23, 2007

How To:

How To:

Make me blog non-nice things about your theatre:

*Turn me into a famous Oscar Wilde character by telling me that I can't take my handbag into your auditorium. I understand that you have a policy on huge rucksacks and large Primark bags but a HANDBAG? I will grant you that my lovely Oasis cherry red bag is not small, but neither is it the biggest handbag I own. It has stuff in it that I might want - like my programme, and bottle of water (yes, I'm stingy, but I make up for it by buying ice cream) and my PURSE (thus allowing me to buy said overpriced ice cream). No, however well manned your cloakroom might be I do not want to leave my PURSE, my phone, my MP3 player, my hand crafted mittens, Mini David Tennant, my diary and the new book I bought from Blackwells on the way to the theatre in there. And because you will not let me into the auditorium otherwise I have to trek half way across the theatre (for the cloakroom is at the furthest point away from my door), stand in a queue for five minutes behind a school party before I speak to the Duty Manager who agrees with my mild outrage and tells me what I already know - YOU CAN'T MAKE ME PUT MY HANDBAG IN THE CLOAKROOM.

*When I ring up for tickets at the last minute I understand you may be very busy and therefore that I may not get a great seat. This is fine, I know how theatre works. What I do not expect is to pay for said not-great seat (at the same rate as the brilliant seats) and then to discover that there are at least fifty empty seats in a better part of the theatre. I understand that there are such things as house seats, and group bookings where seats aren't used, Director's club seats and suchlike and reserved tickets that are not collected - how these things, though, can relate to over fifty seats (only in the best seating area since my side was cramned) I do not understand. This makes me grumpy. I am a theatre snob. I will pay more to get a better seat. If this is a regular occurence at the Sheffield Crucible then it doesn't inspire me to make last minute seating purchases.

*Knowing that your production is to go in the Crucible (I'm not sure which theatre it's in when it reaches Stratford) design it so over half of the audience cannot see what is happening when you use the back of the stage. And then use this section for your big symbolic entering Arden and leaving Arden sections of the play which I, and many of my fellow audience members, cannot see. This makes me feel cheated because my seat has not been sold as 'restrictive view' which, frankly, it was bordering on (and I was in the middle of the side section).

*Have programmes which are, frankly, a bit rubbish.

Make me blog nice things about your theatre:

* Minimise my handbag rage by having a Duty Manager who smiled and acknowledged how stupid the situation was.

*Embrace the artifice and theatricality of As You Like It by opening with "All the world's a stage...".

*Put Jacques in high heels...

*And Celia in a gorgeous dress.

*See the darker side of Arden -

*But not get overwhelmed by this enough to forget that this is a comedy and a metal goat on wheels will always get a laugh.

To be momentarily serious, away from my mock rage, the three hour plus running time simply whizzed by which is clearly a good thing. And Sam West had certainly had a very good (and interesting) take on the play. If there was anything I didn't adore it was, with all its obvious theatricality (the calls for music to the sound box did begin to grate somewhere around the first ten minutes), that it was missing that last little bit of magic and sparkle that makes As You Like It my favourite of the comedies. It was too polarised; the first half was a tragedy, the second a comedy. And thus bits of the play got lost. And for all I like my comedies with the required dark undertone I missed some of the sparkle. It is one of the great aspects of the writing that Jacques, who revels in sadness, is stuck in a play which revels in happiness. If we take the setup too seriously, too ominously, then it's difficult to reconcile everything that happens (particularly some of the most questionable character turnarounds in the Shakespeare canon).

For all this though, I thoroughly enjoyed the show - it made me laugh, it made me ooo with delight a couple of times, and it made me think.

2 comments:

Val said...

Aww, you got to see it. Glad you enjoyed it. I'm really sorry I missed it (but perhaps not sorry that I missed the handbag trauma)x

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