Monday, 4 October 2010

Strange goings on in the arty world

passion michael billington

I wasn't going to write a review here of Sondheim's Passion which has just been suspended at the Donmar Warehouse. Mainly because I actually don't like writing negative reviews, and partly because I love opera and hate musicals (somehow one precludes liking the other, I don't know why). I didn't really think it was fair of me to sit here and write a long piece about how much I hated the Passion simply because it wasn't my thing. How we booked the seats remains a mystery; in a very English way my friend and I blamed each other until Husband leaned over in the darkening theatre just before the singing was about to start and whispered, 'I'm sure it was my fault.' For the painful one hour and forty minutes (without interval) that the musical lasted and while I alternatively prayed that the singing would magically stop or failing that a trap door would open underneath my seat, I wished I could have blamed someone else but myself for the error. At the end I joined the other enthusiastic theatre-goers in the mad clapping. But for me it was to show my appreciation that the performance at last was over.

Then this morning I read that one of the actors in The Passion was shot at during a performance on Saturday. A gun used on stage during a duel fired something else than smoke. You can imagine the emails that have been flying back and forth between the four of us who absolutely hated the performance. 'It wasn't that bad', 'Must have been a critic', etc... I believe the actor in question is recovering, and that the performances will be resumed in a day or two. I know I shouldn't think it funny; still it's a strange co-incidence.

The second odd thing that happened in the arty world this week was the need for Corrections in the UK edition of Jonathan Franzen's new novel Freedom. I'm sure all the journalists who coined the many different versions of that title must have thought the stuff really writes itself. I heard Franzen on BBC Radio 4's Start the Week this morning and according to him there were about 250 changes that he'd made to the final text, even though according to the publishers, Harper Collins, the errors in the early edition which mistakenly went to print included some small typos and a few missing commas. Call me a cynic but I smell a rat: how can a wrong file of what some critics have called the New Great American Novel be printed out? Could this just be a way of increasing sales even more? In any case I bet the recalled copies of Freedom will become collectors items in a few days' time when the rest of the run has been pulped. I'm almost regretting I didn't ask my friends at England's Lane Books to hold back a copy for me.

Dermot Crowley (Joey), Trevor Cooper (George), John Marquez (Bobby) & Michael Landes (Mike). Photo: Simon Annand
On Saturday we had tickets to see another play: the House of Games at the Almeida. I'm afraid this play too was a disappointment. The script was awful, completely predictable, in parts confusing and in parts what I can only assume was intentionally abstract. The acting was stilted, caused, I'm sure, by the poor writing. It was like watching a really bad episode of The BBC's Hustle, and that's saying something. I shan't go on, as I fear for the safety of the actors: guns featured strongly in this play too. All I'm hoping is that they're all water pistols, rather than supposedly blank-firing real ones. And that just because once again my clapping at the end was more out of gratitude for being able to go home, than appreciation, the co-incidences end there.


Rose said...

Oh dear, not a fantastic week for theatre then. Next time should be brill' hopefully.

I agree about the Frantzen, very strange goings on indeed

Anonymous said...

After two such disappointing experiences I would seriously consider sacking your theatre agent!!!

Make Do Style said...

Hardly negative, very entertaining assessments! Mr MDS converted me to golf watching. I loved the Ryder Cup mainly because it was in Wales and all very exciting stuff xx

Vintage Sparkle said...

Hi, thanks for checking out my blog and being my 3rd ever follower (the 4th is me so it hardly counts!)
I got to chapter 17 of your story (very addictive stuff!) and now just waiting for the chance to finish it. Which with a 2 year old isn't easy. Beautifully written.

Helena Halme said...

Vintage Sparkle, I hope you enjoy How I Came to be in England. The last chapters can be found on this blog - keep forgetting to update the other one (very bad I know!)xx

homemade said...

I saw the Almeida play too and I agree with you. It was very disappointing. I think the mainstream TV programme called Hustle does this genre better and that is saying something!