A long time ago a theater far from the bright lights of the West End set itself a course dedicated to new theater. This being a risky venture for profit making theaters, many looked upon this decision and thought it was good, both the hard core theater fans looking for a new buzz and the conservative programming directors at the big theaters. And the seats were cheap (and huge and made of Corinthian leather) and the theater was usually full. And it was good.
And then, well, some of the productions became very popular. And then there were West End Transfers and queues at the box office and the website was overloaded at the start of booking and even for those who were supposedly Friends there was the bitter disappointment of The Shows That Would Remain Unseen. And lo, the secret was out, and it was fork over for the transfer or suck it, and as a special bonus we’re going to make the tickets for the most popular show of the year available on a luck only basis. Great was the gnashing of teeth, and many were the rendings of the friends memberships.
Hey ho, the fall of 2012 is upon us, and I’m pleased to report that the Royal Court is consoling us for the shows we weren’t able to see by providing us with a run of shows that will make us believe we’re actually not missing anything when we’re forced by finances or the vagaries of the ticket allotment system to stand one out. I present as proof Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information, a collection of 50 miniscule scenes that hit the subjects of the title without illuminating them. It’s as if Churchill was given the task of creating fifty audition pieces and we get to watch the entire collection performed in sequence.
I’ll admit, the audience did laugh, and there were wee moments of poignancy, but I was grossly disappointed by a show that made me feel like I’d been channel surfing. I found myself thinking,”This show was perfect for the Royal Court,” but sadly I thought this because its deeply literate audience is able to roll with a non-standard format rather than just walking out even when it proves itself unworthy of their time. I want things to be perfect for the Royal Court because they’re new and awesome, not because no other theater would waste their audience’s time with it.
I love my cheapie £12 seats at the Royal Court because they so regularly have overdelivered value; what a change (and a disappointment) to walk out thinking, “Thank goodness I didn’t pay any more for that …”the third time running.
(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, September 21st, 2012.)