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In The Republic Of Happiness


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#1 DanielWhit

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 04:33 PM

Well, it started well.

Traditional family Christmas, complete with rows and deaf relations. Then some dude walks in and starts insulting everyone for no apparent reason. His missus turns up. She has a song. Until this point I was thinking it could be a quality drama about family politics and the like, but then..

The set changes into some form of TV studio, and the actors spend probably the best part of 90 minutes deviating between song and entirely random ensemble speaking guff. Finally, we have a few minutes of a conversation. Where the characters went for those middle 90 minutes, I've no idea. Nor have I any idea what Crimp was trying to say with this production (or what Cooke was on when he commissioned it for performance!).

No wonder there was no interval, the Royal Court would have been emptied!

One almighty misfire, in my eyes.

#2 xanderl

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 04:52 PM

Wow, sounds like a car crash. Yours is far more positive than other reviews I've found online!
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage

#3 Honoured Guest

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 07:00 PM

View PostDanielWhit, on 09 December 2012 - 04:33 PM, said:

Nor have I any idea what Crimp was trying to say with this production (or what Cooke was on when he commissioned it for performance!).

The Royal Court's podcast gives you a few good pointers. http://www.royalcour...c-of-happiness/

#4 DanielWhit

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 07:42 PM

Thanks, though I'm a great believer that you shouldn't have to listen to a 15 minute podcast to be able to fathom what a production is trying to be about.

One exchange I found revealing (paraphrased): "It's a very funny play, isn't it? "Well, it's interesting because we've been told to play it down". Stuart McQuarrie seems to be desperate to hang on to any shred of "yes, this is a play, honest" that he possibly can (before spending the majority of the podcast saying "mhm"). Meanwhile, Ellie Kendrick has approached the podcast by saying "look at me, I can use clever words to explain the fact we sing at times".

7 minutes in, no-one seems to be able to muster up any enthusiasm at all.

#5 Parsley

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 07:58 PM

Sorry, I have to interject here and say how fantastic I thought this was.

Saw it last night after a long day at work and absolutely loved it.

Crimp has long been associated with the Royal Court and his work is never "conventional" in the sense that it often travels a non-linear and even random path.

I wonder if the people who jump to criticise this piece so quickly have ever seen his plays before (his actual work rather than the many adaptations he has also done) because this work is typical of many of his other works.
Rather, I suspect they are going to see it just because it is being staged at the Royal Court and I am glad the theatre can catch people who are expecting the obvious off guard.

His last new play was at the Orange Tree earlier this year (Play House with a revival of the amazing radio play Bahamas).

I think it is really brave of the Royal Court to stage something different over the festive period.

Lately the venue has been offering crowd pleasing fayre such as "Jumpy" and "Posh".

Don't get me wrong, these are new plays with writing of the highest quality and I loved them very much, but the Royal Court is a cutting edge place and "In The Republic Of Happiness" is exactly the sort of new work they love to do.

The middle section, much derided above, was a genius of timing and acting from the cast. The songs were excellent (better than the awful noise I sat through during "American Idiot" this afternoon) and the impressive set changes provoked a lot of comments from the audience.

#6 DanielWhit

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:03 PM

Oh yes, I can't fault the performances or the set at all (though the second scene change did smack a touch of "look at how clever we are"), then again, at the RC one never can. The production itself had consistently high values.

My issue was the play itself just didn't seem to know what it was trying to do, there was certainly no concealed attempt at explaining the middle Act at all. The vast majority of the audience, judging from the comfort of my row E circle seat, seemed to be getting more and more fidgety and impatient as it went on.

That said, my thought as I came out was a mix of "gosh, what a waste of an evening" and "the critics'll love it, it's not panto".

#7 Parsley

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:05 PM

Yes but how much Crimp have you seen before??

I don't mean that in a rude way.....not at all

But having seen loads I loved this!

#8 xanderl

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:12 PM

Dominic Cooke interview

http://www.independe...on-8395808.html
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage

#9 xanderl

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:16 PM

View PostParsley, on 09 December 2012 - 08:05 PM, said:

Yes but how much Crimp have you seen before??

I don't mean that in a rude way.....not at all

But having seen loads I loved this!

Interesting to have an alternative view! I'm seeing this on Saturday. Not sure if I've seen any Crimp but I was one of the minority who liked Wastwater

Are you going to see Crimp and Katie Mitchell's opera collaboration next year Parsley?
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage

#10 Parsley

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:18 PM

Although this might sound really weird,

I am quite anxious about Dominic Cooke leaving the RC.

Get upset when I think about it!

I love the venue dearly....sure it can survive a change in director, but I have so many excellent memories of things I have seen there over the last few years I worry the direction might change suddenly.

It really is the best theatre I know of for new writing....miles ahead of anywhere else in London.




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