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Overrated productions


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#11 Welthorpe

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 08:54 AM

I found ETT's Hamlet to be tedious in the extreme but critics seemed to fawn over Ed Stoppard. Did nothing for me.

I also hated the NT's Inspector Calls first time round, even though everyone raved about it. But I gave it a second go when it toured after reading a particularly interesting posting on this very board (I think it was either Job or Josh - apologies to both for the confusion!) and have to say that I did enjoy it much more.


#12 Marius

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 10:03 AM

NTs An Inspector calls and The Play What We Wrote are the two that first spring to mind.

#13 Nathan

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 06:02 PM

'The Coram Boy' left me completely cold (especially when comparing it to its 'Christmas show' predecessor, 'His Dark Materials').

I found the direction and script infantile with some awful howlers which could have been taken from a GCSE devised piece: 'Ok, everyone pretend to be a tree!' (and that's being mean to GCSE drama students). The choir and cast were regularly out of tune also. I just found the whole thing substandard.

I suppose it's only redeeming feature was the 'water' scene.

#14 Lizzo

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 09:46 AM


I also found "Noises Off" less than the superb evening it was cracked up to be. The law of diminishing returns came into play I thought: v funny first act, then increasiongly unfunny as the same thing was repeated.

More recently I really was totally unengaged in the NT's Pillars of the Community, and utterly bored by Rock and Roll.

#15 Nigel

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 09:50 AM

Kneehighs "Nights at the Circus"

Everyone seemed to love it, but I found the lead character, Feathers, to be utterly charmless and the rest of it left me totally cold. There were some plot elements that made no sense as well!

I got the impression that by putting two members of the cast on a trapeze was considered enough to get the audience in raptures!   blink.gif

#16 tom_waldo

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 03:38 PM

The RSC's Coriolanus was awful, I was so tempted to leave in the interval which I have never ever considered. Also found their Antony and Cleopatra a bit dry, but I think that may have been a result of the London transfer.

#17 InTheKnow

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 08:02 AM

It's hard to say in the first place what "overrated" is.  Do you mean something like Wicked, a broadly popular hit, or We Will Rock You?  Which are both fairly dire, despite winning massive audience approval, and in the case of the latter, a five year run.  Somewhat mystifyingly.

Or is it the "emperor's new clothes" phenomenon?  A case of a critical/must-see phenomenon (a la History Boys) that proves odd yet again.

Either way, I'd nominate:

The NT's Henry IV - A friend of mine worked on these and tried, helpfully, to warn me in advance that they weren't great, and that Gambon had been a nightmare.  I wouldn't hear of it.  They were right.  I was wrong.  And on the day I went you could actually measure just how poor Mr Gambon was.  It was the Stagetext presentations of both parts (glutton for punishment, I know) where the text scrolls on screens either side of the stage.  Interesting to see just how much he missed, skipped, or paraphrased, and all with lazy diction, and a self-indulgence that most of the stalls seemed delighted by.  Also, his fee seemed to have diminished the already-tight Travelex level budget, so the staging itself was flat and uninspired.  A dire day out.  Thank God for John Wood and David Bradley.  And, for the record, Hytner's Henry V two years previously remains one of the greatest Shakespeare's I've ever seen.

Coram Boy - boring.  Flat.  Wincingly acted.  And just so bloody pleased with itself.  Theatre as created by committee.  A committee of home counties-dwelling, Telegraph reading Tories and their charming offspring.

History Boys - saw it in its first week.  Went back again to try and see something I'd missed.  A friend worked on the tour; saw it then.  Still nothing.  Saw the film.  Nope.  It continues to elude me.  It's not that it's bad; it's alright.  But it's far from even Bennett's best work for the stage (which is never as good as his work for screen) and its original Lyttleton design was dreadful if you weren't in the stalls.  Samuel Barnett and Frances De La Tour both marvellous; Clive Merrison apparently auditioning for panto.  And it all had the whiff of gay man's wish-fulfilment about it.  That its initial run was in rep with the stunningly brilliant House of Bernada Alba, and playing next to the Cottesloe's Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads only baffles me further.

(Enough NT-bashing; they've done enough brilliant work too.)

Old Times at the Donmar - I bet Newsnight Review "genuinely admired" it, or something, but it's a cold piece, oddly directed, and infuriatingly designed.  You watched the whole thing through gauze.  Crap.

Wicked - Like arriving at a party when everyone else there's already bladdered.  Powerfully sung, but lacking in most other aspects.  Irritatingly, the political subtleties and parallels of a great source novel have been sacrificed in the name of mid-range AOR ballads.  The ending's a cop-out too.  And its cod-psychology is like a suburban office wall-art slogan ("Inspiration: You Are The Flame" etc).  It's dishonest.  At least Mamma Mia!/Dirty Dancing wear their heart on their sleeve - you'll have a bloody good night out.

Avenue Q - It's ok.  And the cast are (or at least were when I saw it) first-rate across the board.  But it's been schlepped across the Atlantic and across down as bawdy/lewd/daring/explicit content etc.  It's the softest, most warm-hearted old fashioned musical, following the classical model and song cycle of a Rodgers/Hammerstein with a nice resolution.  Which is ok.  But to then cynically market it as daring/outre/not for parents is misleading.  And, two years before Jerry Springer The Opera had managed to be genuinely subversive, shocking and innovative.

Rant over.  Breakfast needed.

#18 armadillo

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 09:08 AM

I don't remember Henry IV getting outstanding reviews - everyone picked up on Gambon being hard to understand (which, IMO, was the only major flaw in the production). And Avenue Q got so-so reviews here as well with the critics picking up on exactly your points.

#19 Matthew Winn

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 10:30 AM

QUOTE(InTheKnow @ Apr 28 2007, 09:02 AM) View Post
Avenue Q - It's ok.  And the cast are (or at least were when I saw it) first-rate across the board.  But it's been schlepped across the Atlantic and across down as bawdy/lewd/daring/explicit content etc.  It's the softest, most warm-hearted old fashioned musical, following the classical model and song cycle of a Rodgers/Hammerstein with a nice resolution.  Which is ok.  But to then cynically market it as daring/outre/not for parents is misleading.  And, two years before Jerry Springer The Opera had managed to be genuinely subversive, shocking and innovative.


That's exactly the problem I had with Avenue Q. I love the show itself and think it's a charmingly romantic musical comedy (apart from "You Can Be As Loud...", which is jarringly out of step with the rest of the show), but it's nothing like the show suggested by its publicity. The publicity actually put me off the show, and had I not been greatly impressed by Chichester's summer 2004 season (in which Julie Atherton and Clare Foster appeared) I'd never have given Avenue Q a chance.

I'm sitting here sipping tea from an Avenue Q mug, on which are words like Homelessness, Pornography, Homosexuality, Unemployment, and Drunken Sex. Nothing about romance. Nothing about humour. Nothing about fun. Nothing, in fact, to suggest that I might enjoy the show. Avenue Q itself is an underrated production, but its publicity campaign is very much overrated.
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#20 M George

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 02:56 PM

QUOTE(JWC @ Apr 24 2007, 06:26 PM) View Post
That aside... to answer the question I'd nominate Jerry Springer - now THAT was unfunny


I agree.  Jerry Springer the Opera left me cold.  Most overrated show I have ever seen.

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