Archive for December 7th, 2007

Dick Whittington and His Cat – Hackney Empire

December 7, 2007

I decided to attack my sour mood today with a strong dose of Panto. So off to the Hackney Empire I went – rushing a bit (albeit unnecessarily) to make a 7 PM start time.

The theater was sadly only half full (especially when you consider the rave writeup it got in the Metro this morning), and we were berated a bit for not cheering loudly enough (“You paid your money, you’ll might as well try to enjoy yourself, it’ll get you out of here sooner”) and laughing at the appropriate moments (I’m sorry, a pun on “Black Pearl”/Blackpool Tower is a bit lost on me). But the singing was very much on key, if too much toward the moderne style that I dislike so much (I don’t know, does it really keep the kiddies coming?), there was a fair bit of fun dancing (I have to say the extremely skinny four year old was cracking me up), as well as garish costumes, sexual innuendo, and actors cracking each other up.

There was an undersea dance number featuring a clownfish sculpture that was so heart felt I felt it should be called “Finding Emo.” I really don’t know how spending time in Neptune’s Kingdom fit into the legend of Dick Whittington, but then, since I’m American, it might just be one of those rather obvious things I hadn’t noticed (like the fact it’s the Tower Bridge that’s the coolest looking Olde Fashioned bridge in London, not the London Bridge).

And there were MONKEYS. A whole scene, I tell you, on “Monkey Island,” with a giant, King-Kong style puppet. And there was a ship that floated across the stage, split, and sunk; and a transmorgrifying fairy that turned from a smallish human into a tiny doll that was pulled up from the stage into the balcony on a string. It all basically made no sense at all (this cannot be considered a spoiler) and I had tears trickling out the corners of my eyes during the very first scene. W and I had a great time and I consider the evening a grand success.

(Oh, and I should mention, both the Cat (fabulous dancing; spoke only in “meows”) and King Rat (in leather trouser and knee-high boots) were VERY sexy – three times as much as short-skirted Principal Boy Dick, who sang fine and had a great and chipper attitude but was sadly not allowed the benefit of a leather costume.

Bitchslapped by God at the Drillhouse

December 7, 2007

Wednesday evening got off to a rather stressful start when I went to get some money for dinner and realized I’d very much like to be paid tomorrow, if not yesterday, but thankfully, Miss Booklectic repaid her theater ticket in yummy food for me (Ooze; on Goodge Street, a risotto restaurant and clearly the best named joint I’ve seen in ages) so I was covered.

Then it was off to The Drill Hall for Bitchslapped by God. Well, perhaps it might have been a good show, and I think the actor (Everett Quinton) was more than competent, but watching him play, I don’t know, some eight different characters, plus dancing puppets doing a jazz Nutcracker, animated dolls re-enacting some kind of Snidely Whiplash/Polly Pureheart drama, and a trio of cutout faces which he used to play a series of elves having a chat with Mrs. Claus was just a bit overwhelming. He went too quickly from one charactter to the next (just basically turning around and addressing the air where he was just standing) and wasn’t really capturing the differences between the “characters.” It was some kind of anti-war thing (black helicopters snatching away participants in the Million Santa March), but … well, it just wasn’t coherent. Or interesting. In fact, I was kind of dozing off. When intermission rolled around, I dashed away as quickly as I could, feeling guilty about leaving booklectic behind, but … well, closing eyes are a sure sign it’s time to call it a night.

Tonight I’ll be seeing Dick Whittington at the Hackney, and I’m very much hoping I’ll get in a much more Christmas-cheery mood.