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Merrily We Roll Along @ Menier & Pinter


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#211 Cactus

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 06:36 PM

View PostKevinUK, on 25 June 2013 - 06:17 PM, said:

I didn't see anything special about it.
There are dozens of references to what happens earlier in their lives and later in the show in the lyrics, score and plot. We meet people who are broken and whose relationships are broken and watch how they fell apart by seeing their lives unravel. We see the consequences before seeing the actions and the hopes and objectives behind their actions, and we judge them before we know what even happened. At the very end we see the start of everything and we experience people who have no idea what's about to happen to them, who share things with each other they'll use against each other and who set out to do things that will eventually destroy them with the best intentions. It may not have been the right show for you personally for some reason but it is special, it's incredibly clever and heartbreaking and the vast majority of people whose reactions I've heard were deeply touched by the current production.

#212 KevinUK

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 07:22 PM

View PostCactus, on 25 June 2013 - 06:36 PM, said:


There are dozens of references to what happens earlier in their lives and later in the show in the lyrics, score and plot. We meet people who are broken and whose relationships are broken and watch how they fell apart by seeing their lives unravel. We see the consequences before seeing the actions and the hopes and objectives behind their actions, and we judge them before we know what even happened. At the very end we see the start of everything and we experience people who have no idea what's about to happen to them, who share things with each other they'll use against each other and who set out to do things that will eventually destroy them with the best intentions. It may not have been the right show for you personally for some reason but it is special, it's incredibly clever and heartbreaking and the vast majority of people whose reactions I've heard were deeply touched by the current production.

You know, I did see it. It's not special, it's not clever and it's certainly not heartbreaking. They might have had some more optimism at the end than at the start, but optimism isn't character development, and going backwards isn't clever - after the first scene you've already worked out everything you need to know, and getting from there to the end happens without any twists or shocking revelations.
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#213 Cactus

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 07:39 PM

View PostKevinUK, on 25 June 2013 - 07:22 PM, said:

You know, I did see it. It's not special, it's not clever and it's certainly not heartbreaking. They might have had some more optimism at the end than at the start, but optimism isn't character development, and going backwards isn't clever - after the first scene you've already worked out everything you need to know, and getting from there to the end happens without any twists or shocking revelations.
That is what you took away from it but that doesn't make it an objective fact. It was heartbreaking and clever when I saw it. Life isn't just about knowing what happens at the end. I loved it and most people seem to love it. It's about the human experience. Saying that you know everything after the first scene is nonsense, all you see are the bitter, shallow existences of people you automatically dislike before you get to know them. Nobody said that optimism was character development - I've already said that it's about judging people before we learn about the background of their decisions. There were plenty of revelations throughout the entire plot - just take the use of 'Not A Day Goes By' for example. I'm not saying it's the concept of going backwards that is clever, it's how it was carried out. Fair enough, you didn't pick up on it and you didn't take anything away from it. I'm sorry that's the case and that you feel like you wasted an evening but that doesn't mean the show is rubbish or that we're just pretending to see its cleverness or pretending to feel heartbroken after watching it.

#214 KevinUK

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 08:21 PM

View PostCactus, on 25 June 2013 - 07:39 PM, said:


That is what you took away from it but that doesn't make it an objective fact. It was heartbreaking and clever when I saw it. Life isn't just about knowing what happens at the end. I loved it and most people seem to love it. It's about the human experience. Saying that you know everything after the first scene is nonsense, all you see are the bitter, shallow existences of people you automatically dislike before you get to know them. Nobody said that optimism was character development - I've already said that it's about judging people before we learn about the background of their decisions. There were plenty of revelations throughout the entire plot - just take the use of 'Not A Day Goes By' for example. I'm not saying it's the concept of going backwards that is clever, it's how it was carried out. Fair enough, you didn't pick up on it and you didn't take anything away from it. I'm sorry that's the case and that you feel like you wasted an evening but that doesn't mean the show is rubbish or that we're just pretending to see its cleverness or pretending to feel heartbroken after watching it.

Again with the elitism because you enjoyed it and read something into it! I actually quite liked the characters at the start - they were by far the more interesting versions of everyone we saw.

However in the first two scenes you can deduce all that you are about to see: for example Frank is cheating on his wife, isn't speaking to an old friend and has a son he doesn't speak to. If he's cheating on his wife, you can deduce that he doesn't speak to his son based on the idea that he cheated on his mother - once a cheater always a cheater. Not speaking to his son indicates a messy divorce. As Mary points out, Frank's passion was music - so we know music must have featured heavily in his past, most probably around the time he was originally close to Mary/married to his son's mother. Mary's a drunk and an old friend - the only reason a woman would have stuck around Frank knowing he was a cheater (and hating his lifestyle) is if she were in love with him as love makes you blind. The drink indicates its never happened between them.

So yes, get 90% of it from the opening, and the rest is just how it happened. My point is that how it happened isn't actually all that interesting nor is it clever. As for not judging them until we now about the background to their decisions - well, not a great lot to learn there either.
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#215 Cactus

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 08:25 PM

View PostKevinUK, on 25 June 2013 - 08:21 PM, said:

Again with the elitism because you enjoyed it and read something into it! I actually quite liked the characters at the start - they were by far the more interesting versions of everyone we saw.
Just because you didn't take anything away from it doesn't mean that I'm being elitist simply because I did. Quite the opposite, you're acting like you're being objective and everyone that loved it must be an elitist Sondheim fan which is not at all the case.

#216 KevinUK

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 08:44 PM

View PostCactus, on 25 June 2013 - 08:25 PM, said:


Just because you didn't take anything away from it doesn't mean that I'm being elitist simply because I did. Quite the opposite, you're acting like you're being objective and everyone that loved it must be an elitist Sondheim fan which is not at all the case.

So stating that [i]"Fair enough, you didn't pick up on it and you didn't take anything away from it"[\i] isn't elitism? Obviously I'm not clever enough to see what you saw.

I actually don't think it's trying to be clever, but more a case of thinking of a gimmick and running with it: as I said - if the same story had been told in a linear timeline, then it still wouldn't be an interesting story. But I think that's the point - the characters are just rolling along in life.

Personally I believe a character in any medium needs to go on a journey in order to find audience support. In this the characters don't go on that journey - they 'devolve' on stage, meaning they get less interesting as they the show progresses.
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#217 Jamiem

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 05:10 AM

The book has never worked neither did the original play

#218 Reich

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 10:37 AM

I find the only way it works is in the original Broadway production which has a prologue and epilogue of older Frank (a character that isn’t in this version) who is selling out and giving a speech to a bunch of graduates about success. He then goes on to have a debate with his younger self. Then at various points in the story older frank watches his younger self cursing the mistakes his younger self makes. I found it really heart-breaking to watch.

The Leicester Haymarket version, the version currently licensed (and most of the current West End production) leaves me cold and I’m a HUGE Sonhead!

Broadway has been very good to me. But then, I've been very good to broadway.


#219 Deal J

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 11:33 AM

"Sonhead" :) ... that sounds a lot less conspicuous than "Sondheimite"!
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#220 mallardo

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 12:46 PM

View PostReich, on 26 June 2013 - 10:37 AM, said:

I find the only way it works is in the original Broadway production which has a prologue and epilogue of older Frank (a character that isn’t in this version) who is selling out and giving a speech to a bunch of graduates about success. He then goes on to have a debate with his younger self. Then at various points in the story older frank watches his younger self cursing the mistakes his younger self makes. I found it really heart-breaking to watch.

The Leicester Haymarket version, the version currently licensed (and most of the current West End production) leaves me cold and I’m a HUGE Sonhead!

Wow.  Totally disagree.  The high school graduation framing device was unnecessary and disastrous for the show - as the original production proved.  Obviously Sondheim thinks so as well.  The current production is one he very much approves.
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