Further to my post below on the thinness of modern writing, I went to see Trying at The Finborough yesterday and it flies in the face of everything I’ve written being elegant, effusive and joyously pedantic in its use of English (well American but still). Oh and the acting is pretty fab too. My full review is here if you’d like to peak. It is on until 11 April. Absolutely go and see it.
I went to see Victory at the Arcola last week. This feast of a play is an early piece from that crusty bastion of British writing Howard Barker. Later Barker texts are seen to be a bit dry and preachy but nothing could be moister than this incredible play which swims around in the salacious possibilities of the English language with not a thought for the sparse contemporary lexicon which seems to restrict modern writers to the children’s paddling pool.
In a world where relativism is absolute (the ultimate irony of which cannot be lost on anyone!) it is hard to make bold statements about anything without having your thoughts bashed into a bland liberal pc version of themselves. This is not to say that I don’t want discussion, in fact discussion is essential, but in any debate there are sides: let’s just jump off the fence and place our feet firmly on one for a change. So, with that said, I am going to say in no uncertain terms that what I require from the theatre (and when I say the term ‘theatre’ I am encompassing all forms of performance art which is outwardly thinking also) is for it to expect, indeed demand, something from me.
Only a handful of the performances that I have seen over the past 4/5 months have asked something of me as a member of the audience. These have come in a myriad of forms from experimental work such as Forced Entertainment’s Spectacular and Julia Lee Barclays’ Besides, you lose your soul or The History of Western Civilisation through to Caryl Churchill’s much debated piece Seven Jewish Children or the minimalist opera Doctor Atomic, now showing at the Coliseum. The structures of these works are vastly different but each has required its audience to put in some footwork throughout the performance.
Written for The Public Reviews http://thepublicreviews.blogspot.com/
Concerning the last days and hours leading up to the first test of the atomic bomb, or ‘Gadget’ as the members of the Manhattan Project somewhat endearingly called it, Doctor Atomic focuses on the great stress and anxiety experienced by those at Los Alamos while the “Trinity” test was being prepared; ending on the iconic moment when the ‘Gadget’ exploded expectations and a new world age was entered.
At the beginning of the year I headed to the National for the highly acclaimed Broadway Production of August: Osage County in which Tracy Letts dissects the good old American staple of discordant family life. This is a show which truly dazzles and true to Steppenwolf’s vibrant, energetic and ‘in yer face’ acting style, the whole thing is carried off with an amazing energy which would put the most zealous British actor to shame. Indeed I and my companions came out of the theatre all bursting with enthusiasm and near gone idol worship for this melodramatic play which when, one thinks of it, is simply a very good soap opera on a wonderfully detailed set. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say, and so you are right, but is it really worth all the hyperbole that we and even countless professional critics have heaped upon it?
‘It’s all a bit pointless unless you write it down.’
After many countless vocal debates with friends, colleagues and sometimes strangers, I’ve come to the conclusion that this piece of advice is true and so here I am writing a blog on theatre that will hopefully be a paper (well cyber) version of the thoughts and opinions that I have on theatre and performance art as a whole, as well (and am I running before I can walk?) an online hub for other people’s opinions as well as a flicker book of reviews, interviews and articles.
But let’s not get away with ourselves because it’s a nerve wracking thing to write down one’s thoughts; when they’re in your head they’re personal and even when spoken, they are infinitely changeable. By writing thoughts down one solidifies and exposes them, not only to others but to one’s own further scrutiny. Like washed teddies on a line, it’s a precarious place to be. But nothing comes from nothing and to return to the original point; there’s no point in having these thoughts and wanting others to know them and further them through interaction and not to take the leap to put them down in black and white. So here we go – I hope you enjoy reading this blog – all comers are welcome.