Saturday, January 22, 2011

A bee in my bonnet (A Year in Theatre: Show #2)

Maybe I was being a little harsh when I posted the following on twitter (not to mention: HEAR THE SUBTEXT THAT I AM CURRENTLY LIVING ON THE SOUTH BANK):But, y'know, it truly was the thing that excited me most about the entire evening.

Theatre can be (and should be) many things. I got my fair degree of mocking whilst doing my MA for the fact that I adore Stoppard and Shakespeare (and have a deeply unfashionably in new work circles penchant for David Hare). I have loved (and cried at) many a musical. In 2010 I fell in love with Mike Bartlett and Belt Up and Little Bulb and Bryony Kimmings and Daniel Kitson and the TEAM and Stan's Cafe. My ultimate favourite show of the year was the one man Invisible Atom (just edging in front of the epic Earthquakes in London). The shorthand version of this: I'm less biased about theatre sub-genres than a lot of theatregoers (and certainly a lot of makers).

But - and this is my big but - I have to care about why you're putting on this play now. And the reason might be as simple (or as big) as this will transport and suprise and delight you. But there's got to be a reason. Otherwise - why should I care? And, moreover, I'm going to sit there going YOU ARE SPENDING MONEY ON THIS?

I suspect that I would prefer to sit through a glorious failure than a well made-nothing.

And when it came down to it A Flea in Her Ear just wasn't funny or charming or delighful enough for me to think it in anyway justified in answer to a 'why?'. The plot hardly matters - though there's the requisite amounts of doors and confusion and misunderstandings, complete with a good dollop of extra-martial sex. There's also a bit of supposed humour directed at a character with a speech impediment which, as well as being mildly offensive, isn't actually funny and was greeted by the kind of auditorium silences that are a little painful. As expected down at the Old Vic the sets are glorious and, well, that really is the extent of my interest.

[As a totally superficial footnote, probably as a result of the fact that we should go to the theatre less, I have an ongoing debate with some friends about which theatre has the best looking ushers. Two words: Old Vic]

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