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Cardinal PirelliMember Since 01 Apr 2007
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Posted Cardinal Pirelli on 01 September 2013 - 12:34 PM
Posted Cardinal Pirelli on 19 July 2013 - 09:48 PM
There’s a big ‘but’ coming so tune out if you want to.
Anyway, I saw this some days ago and, at the time, found it to be a very pleasant evening and found all, and particularly Shannon Tarbet’s performance, to be really effective.
I’ve been on my travels since then and back up north in particular and that feeling has been replaced with something more frustrated and less positive. Now, I’m from a typical northern working class background so my continuing concern at the Royal Court’s middle class oriented programming is, as a result, perhaps unsurprising. Play after play has been brilliantly targeted to appeal to that audience but often not to anything much wider. Maybe the new regime will change that. The ones that I’ve enjoyed the most recently have been the most caustic satire of that audience, In the Republic of Happiness, which seemed to annoy others instead and Jerusalem, which broke out of that world.
Anyway, Shuttleworth’s FT review and bits of Billington’s mention this and I think they have a point, with this being the Royal Court giving it extra salience. As a piece of writing and direction CMT uses tried and trusted ways of creating audience identification, playing on emotions, withholding information to help create interest and empathy and so on. So I did that and felt that but, by the end of the play, there was no end product to this, it was emotion built only on other's emotions. I’m not talking about the action being unresolved, that’s great, I like to see that but I felt sorry/happy, and here I sound like Billington, but the social context wasn’t there, these were people in a vacuum.
In the best of the Court’s realistic dramas there has always been that social background, so that you can place them into, and measure yourself, against them. Something like ‘Love, Love, Love’ did that with its (sometimes too coincidental) placing of the characters against the late 20th early 21st century. Instead, and I suppose this is where my real frustration comes in, we are in an inward looking (Billington's term) frame where we only feel for them/ourselves.
I’d like to see more of the writer’s work, something not set against the metatheatrical world that we saw. I’ve done those classes, done those exercises, been there etc. and, of course, it appeals to critics/audiences who see their background validated. If you are involved in theatre, there’s nothing better than to be reminded that we make a difference!
So, moving forwards, on my travels I also saw ‘Adam Curtis vs Massive Attack’ In Manchester, which was good although an uneasy hybrid of film/gig. In it Curtis, in his usual way, picked out a societal problem and then weaved it into a dizzying global web of connections. In this particular show his main thesis, in an investigative manner more in tune with what the Court has done historically, was that we have been led to no longer want to change the world, just manage it. This shift has led us onto a focus on the self, rather than society, which has resulted in physical/mental self improvement for narcissistic ends rather than as a means of creating progress. Cue CMT and narcissistic characters that appear to exist in that sort of vacuum.
So, in mulling over my recent theatregoing as I travelled around, the one has rubbed up against the other and not to CMT’s advantage. This is where the peril of theatrical realism comes in, I was made to feel and I did feel, but it was manipulative. I’m not asking for overt messages, and I did enjoy it at the time, but these characters left no lasting impression; what I was left with was thinking - great acting......
Posted Cardinal Pirelli on 05 July 2013 - 09:50 AM
Not far off twenty years ago I loved this when I saw it at the Royal Court on a baking hot Saturday afternoon. It really was a sparkling debut for Butterworth, Seeing it at the Duke of York's (?) later with a different cast it was less successful with an audience who just didn't seem to appreciate it in the way they had done at the Court (and in front of me was a man with the noisiest coat that I've ever had to suffer listening to, these things rankle, decades later!)
(plus Here Lies Love at the Dorfman, the word from New York has been great on this one)
Posted Cardinal Pirelli on 05 July 2013 - 12:14 AM
1) A dead horse; no, literally a dead horse.
2) The opening is changed, no sitting down, just straight in to get the masks and away you go.
3) followed the drum major in the Western section (for Punchdrunk regulars it was Vinicius Salles tonight) and he has an insane and wonderfully performed dance naked in the sand, really clever use of the sand (and it must get everywhere.....)
4) also followed Conor Doyle whose Hollywood side character is called Frankie, he's an aspiring actor who seems to parallel the Faye Greener character from the other side. His acting is compelling with probably the other best solo dance that I've seen (around the boardroom table).
5) Lots of characters played by different dancers tonight, it's a punishing show physically so no surprise there.
6) There were a lot of beeps in the Hollywood side on the second preview, they've all gone, were they used for timing?
7) There are one on ones, not for me though. It looks as though, as with previous shows this is going to grow organically throughout its run.
8) The dance is really a step up from any show of theirs that I've seen, a much greater variety and greater complexity, tonally there are even comic moments which is a first. I would hope that critics have seen that but I'm not sure that dance critics will be reviewing it.
The critics are likely do their worst though, many of them are getting on a bit, even more than me, and not really the target audience and, the way these things go, I suppose it's also the time in a company's life cycle which is ripe for 'the backlash' (as Andrew Haydon called it) . Could be wrong but snide comments from Coveney, Billington and so on recently suggest that's what they are aiming for. In the end it's ticket sales and audience that counts though.
Audience was fascinating, I had a break of ten minutes or so from the main action and I'm astonished at the number of people (and they are usually in pairs or groups) that were just wandering aimlessly, they look at an actor as they walk past them as though they are some sort of alien being and spend so much time making 'committee decisions' that it's too late if they do decide to follow them. These are also the ones causing pile ups of audience who get stuck behind them, would be nice if there was a way to split them up.
A woman in the audience was quite heavily pregnant and I also saw a guy on crutches. For a moment I thought I was at Lourdes.
Posted Cardinal Pirelli on 30 June 2013 - 10:42 PM
Posted Cardinal Pirelli on 23 June 2013 - 10:04 PM
Sigh - this is what I was talking about, people who really don't know why they are there.
Still. it would be in keeping if enough people piled in, in an approximation of contemporary dance, to remove their phone and/or goolies.....
Did anyone see 'The Borough' in Aldeburgh? I went today and it was just as good but different. We can give spoilers away now the run has finished but it was an audio walk, a variation on Peter Grimes (which you really had to know to make the most of it, I listened to it again on the way up there) and I really wasn't expecting as many performers to turn up, they must have been in double figures easily.
With outdoor audio pieces there are these wonderfully serendipitous moments; the weather was horrible but perfect today, for example. Heavy intermittent showers that happened at the most effective moments of the walk/drama.
You got to spy Ellen Orford from inside her wardrobe, got followed by locals like some vigilante group after you, menaced by Boles in a shed, all the while listening to a very good narration piece by Jack Thorne (with Britten music at appropriate points, mostly the interludes but some vocal pieces as well).
As for the ending....
I was being followed up a lane and had to go through a gate onto a marsh (a real one) weaving my way to a little wooden hut (it was like the one pictured on the page below, but imagine that with a narrow path through shoulder high reeds). At this point the heavens opened with sideways pelting rain and I was starting to feel (as the audio was suggesting) that I was Peter Grimes. Soaked I entered the hut, which turned out to be, internally, a replica of one I'd seen already on the beach. This time, however, I looked around and there was 'The Boy' and, after observing him and he interacting with me and, as the music swelled and boomed in the hut, he pushed me back towards the wall, at which point another door opened and I went out to be confronted by 'The Borough'. Imagine, in that rainswept marshland, being confronted by a six or seven people dotted around in the reeds wearing oilskins glaring menacingly at you, with a massive bloke getting really rather too close with a big stick. I'm not afraid to say that I was blubbing at that point but, thankfully, my life was spared. After this the sun peeked through the clouds as I trudged away to the end point, listening to Peter Pears' incomparable voice (Now the Great Bear and Pleiades I think, but I was a bit shaky by that point). It was as though somebody was operating a heavenly weather system at the right moments.
It took ages to get there and ages to get back but it was worth it. I hope they put it on again in future festivals.
Posted Cardinal Pirelli on 21 June 2013 - 09:51 PM
If you know Woyzeck and know what Hollywood/California is like, then you shouldn't have a problem understanding what's going on, as long as you put the leg work in (and it is pretty tiring), I managed to latch onto one of the main plots pretty soon and, from that point on, it's just a matter of putting the jigsaw together. This is also a dance show remember, you need to appreciate dance and there's more of it than usual, not just the contemporary work but a number of more choreographed pieces.
Some hints coming up but I'll put them behind spoilers so, if you want to be surprised, DO NOT LOOK.
Don't just know Woyzeck the play but look for the parallel characters. Who is Woyzeck's friend and confidante, the Andres figure? Who are the authority figures who make his life miserable, the doctor, the officer? Who is his/her love rival, the drum major? Pick up those clues and the story starts to fall into place.
Main action doesn't get going straight away if you have an early entry time so go and explore the floors, first loop finished maybe 75 minutes in (just guessing) so after that you can start to piece things together, by the two hour mark everything was coming together for the first version of the story I encountered as I saw the action from other character's perspectives (the female Woyzeck) so the third hour was when I sought out the parallel storyline (the male Woyzeck). There's a finale at the three hour mark and you get efficiently guided into that space. One hint is that one side of that space was more full than the other, don't be afraid to walk around to the other side.
The two versions have a very different feel to them (in your walking as much as anything), they look at the film industry and also the hinterland of a big city. One story is more claustrophobic, one has more wide open spaces, the dress is very different between them and so on.
There are a lot of dance numbers, more than usual; whereas Masque of the Red Death was a little constrained with the BAC in that area this is more like Faust, there's as much audible dialogue as the BAC show though, depends which strand you pick up.
The background characters seem to be well integrated, in one part there are recurring images of dressing/undressing, of changing who you are and, especially of illusion, for example, and they illustrate that. I followed one character for a while who was creating sound effects for a different part of the story, for example.
If, however, you are interested in the main character, look for that key character trait, the downtrodden, the cuckolded, the nervous, the confused. Body language is your friend.
I've seen all of their shows since Faust and maybe it's the US setting, but it reminded me of that show. It's universal story of a descent to a personal hell is similar but executed in a more overarching and complex manner. Masque of the Red Death had its fragmentary narrative, Sleep No More its non-linearity, this narrative is fairly straightforward.
As for the audience, the occasional talker and odd idiot who thinks they have a dispensation not to wear a mask like everyone else but, generally, quite a good audience really (if too trendy metropolitan for this northerner).
Oh, and there were a number of audience members who didn't seem to have a clue what they were seeing, at the very least you'd think that they'd have found out what promenade means..... I fear that, for a while in the first booking period, you are going to get a number of trendy metropolitans who go because they think they should and who don't actually have much interest or inclination towards immersivity, dance and so on and; given it's 2007 since their last big show then they haven't yet had the chance to find that out. That's a price for success, you attract the ones who go because it's cool/trendy, whatever the current modish term is! To tell the truth, I hope they get put off. Do not go! I can say that because I don't have to worry about commerciality.
I go to a lot of immersive work; dreamthinkspeak, in comparison, charge a lot for much less (in fact I much preferred their 360 degree Hamlet 'The Rest is SIlence' to their promenade shows), Shunt produce unfinished and unexplored work, Wildworks are wildly variable (one year the Passion, next Babel.....), You Me Bum Bum Train and Look Left Right provide brillliant one on one experiences without any wider theatrical context. The Punchdrunk style gap has been filled.
Posted Cardinal Pirelli on 15 June 2013 - 09:58 PM
I don't know why but I've found this to be more the case recently, not very often at all but still noteworthy. I thought it might be because our screen media is so easy to read emotionally (often amplified by musical choices) that some just don't know how to deal with ambiguity of tone, responding with the shallowest (and therefore funniest) option.
Posted Cardinal Pirelli on 11 January 2013 - 08:19 PM
At the risk of being ironic that's a superficial reading of the play (or was that deliberate, in which case it was not etc. etc.......)