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Attempts On Her Life


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#21 Jan Brock

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 12:41 PM

Theatresquirrel: I'd be interested to know how old you are - much younger than me I'd say. For that reason it is inevitable that you think KM is new and innovative, whereas in fact if you'd care to mention any particular "trademark" of her work I will be able to point out someone else who has used it in the last quarter century - there is really not that much which is truly new. For example, many elements of her more recent productions have reminded me of the Howard Davies production of Caryl Churchill's "Softcops" (which I assume she never saw). Still it is OK to be a "fan" when young. Keep up the good work.



#22 Backdrifter

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 01:19 PM

Theatresquirrel, it's pretty clear from both my posts why I didn't like it, but to help you I'll spell it out here, and this applies to everything that happened on stage. It's static, despite frantic attempts to use a range of dynamic techniques, to no effect. The production overwhelms an already underwhelming script, smothering what little it has to say about society. It failed to engage me in any way, and was completely unenjoyable. When a bunch of people get up on stage and do stuff, you want that connection that changes it into a theatrical experience. This simply remained, the whole way through, a bunch of people on a stage doing stuff. Even with the worst plays I've seen recently, that connection was still there, albeit linking me into not very good theatrical experiences. That this one didn't even get that far is one of the main reasons I feel so negatively about it. Crimp and the company have created nothing, achieved nothing, gone nowhere, with this production. It's dead.

No, quite right, you didn't say I wasn't open minded, but when you say
QUOTE
If you're a theatre fan with an open mind and want to see something that has the extraordinary consistency of a staged Radiohead song, or a staged David Lynch film, then go, please, and be confounded and dazzled and consternated and amazed.
that is a very clear implication that only the open-minded will be dazzled, amazed etc by this. My apologies if I'm reading too much into that remark.

Your comments about my de-evolution remark, and the comparisons with Schoenberg, Picasso etc, signal to me one major thing on which we're differing. You again appear to be comparing this production with those creative processes. Very few things can be realistically compared in that way, and this production certainly doesn't deserve to be. I can't believe that you're using that as an argument. Mitchell is doing for theatre what Mahler and Monet did in their fields? No, she isn't. But that, I believe, is the central plank of our disagreement - as long as you think that, there's no chance we could ever agree on anything she does. And you're wrong about those artists essentially de-evolving the form and mixing stuff up. Beckett and Joyce didn't throw all the words in the air. That's not what they did, and is a simplistic misrepresentation of what they did. They skewed those forms, re-imagined them, gave them to us through their own perspectives in a way that was new and unsettling and exciting, etc etc.

What KM has done is like taking a beautifully engineered bridge, smashing it up, stacking some bits up, throwing other bits in the river, and sticking other bits to a wall, then saying "There! A new kind of bridge." It isn't, it's bits of what was a bridge, and is now longer any use as a bridge, or anything. Just because she's turned it into something else doesn't mean it's any good. What those other artists did was to take the basic principles of bridge-building and use them to create something that still gets us across the river, but in ways we never imagined. If you'll indulge me for one moment longer - that's the root of our disagreement; you think she is getting us across, I don't.
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#23 Jan Brock

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 03:43 PM

Of the reviews I have read both MB and NdeJ say the text suffers at the hands of the direction. Maybe this is not such a bad thing for very slight or arcane texts that can only be animated by heavy direction (and I'd place several Shakespeare plays in this category), but when it is a play which can stand on its own (like "Seagull")  and a director forces their own "trademark" interpretation on it I would say that is somewhat egotistical.

#24 josh

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 07:25 PM

I cannot tell you all how excited I am to see this and make up my own mind about it!


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#25 smith

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 10:49 PM

QUOTE(josh @ Mar 15 2007, 07:25 PM) View Post
I cannot tell you all how excited I am to see this and make up my own mind about it!


Agreed josh - I can't wait either! I loved Waves as I felt it was a totally unique experience (despite whatever might be said about it being lots of old elements hashed together) - and oddly fascinating. But will this just be a dose of the same? We shall see!!

#26 Eve

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 12:21 AM

Here's my tuppence...

You may know that I tend to side with Theatresquirrel on most matters - I usually concur with his tastes and always enjoy his reviews and arguments. I'm inclined to agree with him here, certainly in terms of KM's work pushing the boundaries of theatre. Although I would like to cite a slight note of reticence about this production.

I know the play quite well, having enjoyed it on the page and seen a couple of different small scale productions - and I think it's a really fascinating, brilliant, frustrating, funny and alarming play. Yes it wanders up its own a*rse a bit but Crimp has the wit to mock himself - hence the self-reflective nature of the play; it constantly reminds the audience that it is a construct. The scene parodying Late Review is the obvious example. So I am keen not to see it (the play) rubbished here. It's really very good!

I had a relatively enjoyable night in the Lyttelton - I think the production is genuinely inventive, exciting, entertaining no less. But I have to say (particularly compared to the slickness of Waves and Iphigenia) that I found it surprisingly scrappy. The technology seems unsophisticated to me - the main above stage screen is grainy, and there is a time delay between the voice track and the images on screen. The quality of the different 'scenarios' seemed to vary - the abba song was just a bit sloppy, and yet the Police interview and the car commercial dazzled.

And I missed the sheer 'theatricality' of the play, as the overwhelming use of cameras and screens becomes increasingly tiresome to watch and feels increasingly reductive. I just wanted to watch the actors from time to time. On a stage. Acting. So the most satisfying elements for me are the opening and closing sections (done without screens, cameras and so on). The plummeting platform at the end is brilliant. The great thing about Waves was it played a brilliant game with our perspective, asking us to keep flipping our gaze from a cinematic one to a theatrical one - here the balance is less satisfying and the performances count for less.

Was with quite a few friends and - like here - there was a real mix of those who loved it, being genuinely transfixed, and those who hated it. I suppose I landed somewhere between the two. But to agree absolutely with TSquirrel, it is a production to be cherished, as an experiment and as an 'event'. Do see it if you haven't so that  you can join in the debate here. Isn't it bl*ody brilliant that a theatre production can engender such differing opinions and passions?

#27 Boob

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 03:49 AM

Backdrifter, your argument is very strong and you state it very well.  But do you not think that the "bridge builders" to which you refer only really got us "across the river" with hindsight.  When we cannot yet necessarily envisage what is to come, perhaps we're not the best people to judge who the real bridge builders are and who are just giving us safe and pleasant crossings?

#28 Backdrifter

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 09:13 AM

QUOTE(Boob @ Mar 16 2007, 03:49 AM) View Post
Backdrifter, your argument is very strong and you state it very well.  But do you not think that the "bridge builders" to which you refer only really got us "across the river" with hindsight.  When we cannot yet necessarily envisage what is to come, perhaps we're not the best people to judge who the real bridge builders are and who are just giving us safe and pleasant crossings?

A very good point well-made. Something to think about and I completely get what you're saying. But speaking entirely for myself, many of my first experiences came without any sort of hindsight. I was young and green and a complete theatre neophyte the first time I saw The Birthday Party, for example, a play that got savaged by almost all critics and closed after a week when it first opened, but enjoys numerous revivals and warm praise now in a climate in which it's much more acceptable. But that change of climate meant nothing to the teenage me when I first saw that play, raised on a diet of films, books and TV shows with conventional beginning/middle/end plots. So it felt new and strange to me, but I loved it straight away. Ditto my first experiences of Beckett. Now, however, yes I have much hindsight to inform my theatregoing.

Eve your comments made very interesting reading and while I unsurprisingly disagree with most of them, I enjoyed them. I agree it's always good to have things that trigger debate; there's clearly some major divide going on here that distinguishes our perspectives on this piece. For example, you found the police and car segments dazzling, I found them lumpen and amateurish - they sounded like they were written by an over-earnest but not very talented student writer. The Late Review segment was like something that got rejected from Dead Ringers. I don't get how the descending platform is brilliant, for me it was one of many 'so what' moments. And I maintain that KM's work does the opposite of what you say - it drags the boundaries back inwards. But ayway, I'm sure everyone gets the drift by now and I reiterate that your thoughtful and considered comments were very welcome, especially coming from someone who knows the pay well and felt it was at times hindered by the mechanical stuff. I definitely agree that the opening and closing sections, featuring the actors simply delivering their lines, were the best bits.

The next thing I saw after it was in the tiny space of the Bush Theatre, all dialogue and a few chairs. It was like a cool refreshing shower.
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#29 Jan Brock

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 10:40 AM

A play which contains a parody of "The Late Review" must be really aimed at a very narrow audience - I have never seen the programme - I bet it's viewing figures are miniscule. This element of the play sounds like the educated middle-classes talking to themselves - as such it would be better staged at the Royal Court under the new regime rather than at NT which is (apparently) trying to broaden its audience.

Video screens are just so old hat - even theatre establishment figures like Trevor Nunn (Richard II) and Nicholas Hytner (Henry V) use them (to little effect) these days.

#30 Guest_Skylight_*

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 09:23 PM

Oh dear, I used to watch Late Review every week and The Late Show before that. unsure.gif




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