Wednesday, September 22, 2010

52 weeks, 52 fringe venues: Venue #4 Leicester Square Theatre

It’s only Venue Four and Leicester Square Theatre is about to plunge me into confronting a beast I’d hoped to avoid until later in the story. Yes, today I’m going to have to confront genre.

I’d purposely avoided discussing genre when I set out the rules of '52 fringe venues in 52 weeks', instead choosing to focus on practicalities of fringe and London instead. But I used the word ‘theatre’ in that blog post enough to give you an idea of where I was going with this. For example I wouldn’t try to pass off a music gig or a stand up comedian under the banner of the challenge (I say that now, wait until it’s July 2011 and I’m panicking). But on Friday night I saw Guy and Rik’s DIC at the Leicester Square Theatre which 1)is (largely though not entirely) a comedy venue and 2)a production which is a sketch show.

Having not explicitly designed my boundaries I need not be having this conversation but part of me doing this whole thing (other than getting to go to odd parts of London) is to look at some of the issues it throws up. And ‘what genre is it?’ is only a couple of steps away from the mind-numbing – and exploding - ‘what kind of thing do you write?’. Only I haven’t ever got a First writing about ‘what kind of thing I write’ whilst I have for genre (c’mon I have to have some remaining bragging rights. It’s that or my prize winning essay on language and the internet I’m afraid). So, given that Guy and Rik’s DIC, has a narrative centering around the Drop In Clinic of the title (but then the acronym is more satisfying) and characterisation and a plot – where is this on the ‘theatre’ scale? I’m not going to answer that question now (ha!) but I’m putting it out there as something I suspect I’m going to return to in the future when I have gathered more examples.

To return to the Leicester Square Theatre there is one little problem when it comes to people like me who arrive early for things – there’s no bar or foyer space proper to loiter. I’m going to make a confession here: I was in a stinky mood when I arrived. Now I mention this because this is my blog and you’re probably aware by now that sometimes I indulge in a little bit of rage. And Friday evening just happened to include some rage and ear-bending and stomping around Bloomsbury (which really should have a Virginia Woolf gift shop for such occasions). Thus arriving cold to Leicester Square Theatre and discovering that there is nowhere for me to sit...well, I could have been happier. Luckily the ushers let me sit myself and my grump in a corridor until the studio was open and could furnish me with vodka from the bar.

In the name of honesty I’m going to confess to knowing the Guy element of Guy and Rick’s DIC but the show did prove to be a suitable antidote to my mood. There’s something quite joyful about seeing two people on stage having to portray a whole range of characters with only their bodies and voices to distinguish them. At its best there’s a cleverness tied to the unexpected which propels the show forwards. Plus it has firmly managed to implant the phrase “smell my voice” into my lexicon.

Fringe Quest Lowdown:

Production: Guy and Rik's DIC

Type of space: Studio space. There's also a larger auditorium. Bars inside auditorium. Nowhere to wait in the cold.

Type of productions: Lots of comedy, though also cabaret, musical theatre and plays. And probably some things that don't sit easily in any of those categories.

Nearest Station: For those who use the tube Leicester Square. For those who don't Charing Cross.

Seating: In basement - individual seats, no rake. So sit at the front (unless you're tall, in which case get thee to the back).

Condition of toilets: Okay. Which, in the middle of central London, means not quite good enough.

Bar produce: Standard alcoholic no-fuss fare. Unsure of pricing as had drink bought for me. Though, in contrast to the assertion of the Box Office Girl, they do take cards for purchases over £5.

Other comments: Arrive about 20 minutes before your show and all will be fine.

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