Archive for July, 2012

Mini-review – Vieux Carré – Kings Head Theatre, Islington

July 31, 2012

I am a fan of Tennesee Williams so was excited to have the opportunity to see one of his lesser known works performed locally, especially after the glowing reviews I read on Twitter from many of my friends. I’d worried that this was a rightfully forgotten work, but the thought of a play that openly dealt with being gay set in New Orleans … What could go wrong?

As it turns out, there were some serious structural issues with the play that I think have rightfully kept it on the shelf. The ten or so characters seem to have been leftovers from other plays – they all seem to have a back story, but none of them really seem to evolve during the course of the play. It felt like watching a long-lived TV series where they just keep adding to the number of characters there and plot convolutions as long as the ratings are good.

The various characters all have interesting tiny arcs, almost enough to make the evening worthwhile as a series of sketches, but they’re hampered a bit by some overacting (not to mention some of the most misplaced American accents ever – since when is St Louis the deep South?). However, the sex really makes the show worth attending. The lead character’s struggle with his sexuality, the old painter’s lecherous acceptance of his own, the crackling energy between the New York blonde and her boytoy – top it all off with one of the most amazing male physiques I’ve ever had the joy to witness from near touching distance, and WOO WHEE. Yeah, that was £15 well spent.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, July 28th. Vieux Carré ends August 4, 2012. Bring a fan.)

Review – Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – National Theatre

July 26, 2012

“So I went to this PLAY and it was about this BOY and it had a lot of MATHS in it and it was REALLY COOL and I was in a PRIME SEAT so I had a PRIME NUMBER and I was Technetium and I was SPECIAL and then I won a prize.”

That is the eight year old inside of me trying to explain how excited and happy I was at the end of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Yes, okay, maybe there were a few things nice going on outside of the two hours and forty five minutes I spent under Marianne Elliott’s control (I did, actually, win a prize, for having a name that added up to a prime number – in my case, 109 – and having the good fortune to sit in one of the “prime” seats in the first place … plus it was the middle of the most glorious week of the entire summer), but my joy was pretty much entirely caused by what happened inside the theater. So many times I go to see new plays, get my hopes up, am briefly suckered by some interesting design work, then WHAM, the true horror hits as I realize that all of that buildup has come to nothing: it’s a dud.

But not last night. Oh no. Curious Incident had the cool movement going (which reminded me of Earthquakes in London), really great projections on stage (well, on the floor) that absolutely added to the story (and which were added to by actual embedded lights, and chalk) and helped build the world of the protagonist’s mind for us and … er, for once, practically no set at all, at least not in the National’s usual way of telling us every little detail of the play by building it for us in an utterly realistic way. And this matters because all of it made a good play better. If you don’t know the book, it’s about an autistic boy who discovers a dead dog and then decides to solve the mystery of who kills it. Conceptually it’s a story about where this leads him, but I believe it is a story much more about what it’s like to be inside of an Aspberger-y mind; and also a play about what it is like, on a daily basis, to live with someone who is both highly intelligent and very, very difficult (and occasionally violent).

And the play just utterly succeeds. I’m not convinced that the performances were 5 star amazing (but since this was a preview, I’d say give it some time to cook), but the protagonist’s father (Paul Ritter) is heartbreakingly convincing – tender, frustrated, angry, loving, despairing. Luke Treadaway as Christopher doesn’t quite feel natural enough, but holds the stage well and in no way appears to overplay his character’s disabilities.

There is so much to say about how much I enjoyed this and all of the reasons why, but I don’t want to take away from the enjoyment so many people are going to have watching this show by telling too much. There are three coups de theatre that left me laughing with joy (before the interval), gasping with surprise, then finally crying (with joy again); I kind of think the director and design team deserve a special prize for making a crusty old burnout like me feel so excited to be seeing a show again. I left feeling high as a kite in the special way I only get when I see something new and wonderful at the very beginning; if nothing else, I was able to thank Nicholas Hynter personally for making this show happen. It’s sold out for the entire run so it may be hard to get a ticket: but it’s utterly worth the risk of day seating and of course regularly refreshing your browser in the hopes of returns, for this show must be seen and it must be seen in the Cottlesloe while it is possible, before it transfers (which it will) and while you can still enjoy the wonderful creation the National team has made for us in its lovely, intimate, black box environment. It will, of course, play in other houses, for this is a play I feel has a long future ahead of it. But in this place, with this design work and this cast, on that beautiful summer night, and in seat 43, I feel so damned lucky I got to see this.

(This review is for a preview performance that took place on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012. It continues through October 27th. I may just go see it again but I’d feel guilty taking a seat from someone else who hasn’t.)

Mini-review – Henry V – Propeller at Hampstead Theatre

July 26, 2012

There’s no doubt about it, seeing Henry V twice in thirty days was a mistake. This version was better than Theatre Delicatessen’s (I could tell, because I didn’t get bored during the last half hour), but the magic was gone for me. I liked the music, though. And it was cool to see the same cast who was just in The Winter’s Tale perform such different roles.

Memo to self: only one production of any individual Shakespearean play per year. DO NOT FORGET.

(I saw this show on Friday, July 20th, but just couldn’t build up a head of steam to write a review, especially given that it closed before I even looked at my computer again.)

Review – Port (sixth installation of The Tempest in Six Parts) – RETZproduces at Borduria (297 Hoxton Street)

July 25, 2012

Six months after my initial gamble on a passport to Borduria (and entrance to all six installations representing The Tempest in its myriad forms), I can’t deny that I was feeling sad about the end of RETZ’s grand experiment. I had fallen in love alongside Miranda, watched Prospero wrestle with his pride, thumbwrestled Trinculo (and won!), and been accused by Sebastian of being a unicorn (after various sprites had loaded me up with Earl Grey martinis). I had been taken on a twisty tour of the warped mind of Caliban.

I had truly been to a brave new world: and, though I did not want to see it come to an end, I also did not want to not be there when it ended. So I booked for “The Port,” which had a damned narrow window of opportunity to visit: only three days worth of performances! But how could I say no to a last chance to see
“How many goodly creatures are there here!
“How beauteous mankind is!”

Arriving at the the Bordurian headquarters, I found that, for the first time, I was able to enter through the front door. Inside, for the sixth and last time, the space was wholly transformed: now it was a travel agency for the Bordurian Ferry system. It looked like we were going to be taking a trip! I perused the various items for sale (tapes from the Bordurian Women’s Choir; a travel adaptor; strange souvenirs), checked in at the counter (I was actually not on the passenger list but they let me on anyway as I had a valid ticket), then sat down in the waiting lounge, where I was pleased to see a woman I’d made friends with on a previous trip. We had a chat, then a man came in the room to gather us up: we were to be transported to a secret location via electric cart. Whee! We toddled on to the waiting vehicle, then began to slowly buzz up the streets of Hoxton, until we came up to and over a bridge … over the Regent’s canal. It was a glorious summer night (after weeks of rain), and people were sitting out at cafe tables beside the peaceful water. Suddenly it became clear to me that we really WERE going to go on a boat trip, not just hang out in the lobby of a travel agency, or watch the show in a warehouse. How exciting!

Our guard Yuri appeared and led us down to the towpath, where we stood, visiting amongst ourselves. Some of the people there had been to all (or most) of the other performances (like me), and they were also sad that this was the last go-round. I stood watching the backs of warehouse buildings and wondering how deep the water was (and talking about theater to a cute girl in a bow tie), until at last a narrowboat pulled up in front of us, piloted by the good captain Daisy. We were loaded on, and suddenly, amidst the chaos, I noted that a man stood at the prow – Prospero had returned! We were going to get a performance on a moving boat … how novel, and how appropriate for a play about a shipwreck!

And then we cast off, and Prospero began to talk about his future. He spoke to ARIEL (projected, as ever, but this time on the back on the boat’s engine room door), I was sometimes able to hear him, and I kind of went into a reverie caused by cool water, damp breezes, and the sight of a terrorized duckling desperately trying to catch up with his mother. God, it was lovely, and it looked like Prospero was going to finally loosen up. I approved.

Then we pulled up under a bridge, and behold! It was King Alonso, good Gonzago, and those two scurvy villains who’d been trying to murder the king earlier. They embarked, Prospero mildly rebuked the bad guys, and we sailed away to the sound of Alonso mourning the loss of his son. And then … on the opposite banks … two lovers leaned against a post in a clinch. Beyond them, two other lovers played hide and seek … and these were Miranda and Ferdinand! Alonso was overjoyed – I couldn’t help but feel happy with him – and though we kept going, we knew that all would be well for this young couple and their parents.

And what to wondering eyes did appear, huddled against the banks of the canal in a ratty old rowboat, but none other than sad old Caliban and her two drinking buddies. They then desperately tried to catch up with us in a scene that to me captured everything you needed to know about Caliban’s character … always behind, desperate to be one of the crowd, but just not together enough to be able to do it. The more murderous elements were not in play, but as we (and Caliban) pulled up to our final port of call, it was she who offered a hand to get me off the boat … and I asked Prospero if I could trust her. “I suppose you can, this once,” he replied. I then shook his hand, walked to the exit, and firmly grabbed Caliban … and got a good lift up. “Best of luck to you and thanks for everything,” I said, and Caliban offered me a drink … which I accepted.

All in all, it couldn’t have been more perfect.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Saturday, July 21st, at 19:55. It’s all over now. I’m sorry.)

Review – St John’s Night – Jermyn Street Theater

July 22, 2012

Tuesday marked a special night for me: not just a trip to a new theater, but a trip to see an Ibsen play I’d never seen before! St John’s Night was receiving its UK premiere at the Jermyn Street Theater more than 150 years after it was written – actually rather a run of local enthusiasm for Ibsen since his play Emperor and Galilean (1873) had just made ITS debut last year. I was very excited to see a new play by my favorite 19th Century playwright – at this rate I might actually get around to all 26 before the end of 2020 (my total is now 9).

I was also excited to go to a new theater space. Jermyn Street is a tiny little theater just steps away from the chaos of Picadilly Circus. Technically it’s in the West End, but as I went down the stairs off of an alleyway, it seemed like I might have been heading to an evening of rather seedier entertainment than usual. Still, there in a cubbyhole was a tiny theater seating about 80 folks, most of whom needed to be very very short if their legs were going to fit comfortably between their chair and the row in front of them.

People: there is NOT ENOUGH SPACE IN THESE DAMNED SEATS. I sat sideways the whole time. Be warned that of the five or so rows in this theater, the first is (obviously) fine and the row that is on the walkway around the theater is also a reasonable seating option. However, in the second row, I found I had to sit sideways the whole time. Be advised if you come to this theater that you should take advantage of the fact it is general seating and FIND THE GOOD ONES. No real worry if you’re five foot tall or less, of course, but most of us aren’t.

Venue shortcomings aside, let us return to the play. Inside the theater, I was met by two goblinesque men playing musical instruments strangely (tunelessly and, in the case of the violin, upside down). To their right were two houses, one a fairy-tale pink with white lace curtains – practically a gingerbread house – the other a grey, weathered shack that looked like the kind of place chickens would meet their end. Yet it’s the gingerbread house that has the witch, in the form of widow Berg, whose goal in life seems to be to make sure her daughter Juliane is married well. Meanwhile she barely tolerates the continued presence of her stepdaughter Anne and Anne’s grandfather (who lives in the scary hut). Anne and her grandfather are very close, but the “new” family (Mrs. Berg and her two adult children from her previous marriage) see them both as mentally off, dismissable, and generally speedbumps in the road of progress. It seemed to be the “old Norway” and the “new Norway” meeting each other together, the old valuing its folktales and traditions, the new valuing, well, money.

Things look to be going well for Juliane as she is about to be engaged to a young man from town, Johannes, an alliance which will result a farm for the young couple … but there seems to be something fishy about Mrs. Berg’s rush to make the marriage, and something not on about the title to the farm. And Juliane, the “modern” young woman, begins to seem less sensible than “crazy” Anne, who shows qualities of loyalty and sensibility (while professing a belief in goblins) especially when contrasted with the freshly arrived poet, Birk. It’s clear that the two male/female pairs are mismatched somehow, but a change of alliances seems impossible. That is, of course, until the goblins stick their noses into it, via some spiked punch.

This play is a strange and wonderful mess, not as psychologically advanced as Ibsen’s last works, but wonderfully contrasting the banal (Mrs. Berg) with the imaginative (Anne and her grandfather). Ibsen then adds to the mix a character who professes to support “the national traditions,” but only as a method of self-aggrandizement. In fact, this character, Poulsen, seems to see anything he is interested in as basically another decoration for his own wonderful world of Poulsen-ness. His commitment to art of any sort seems as tenuous as Bunthorne’s in Gilbert and Sullivan’s play Patience – basically he’ll feign an interest in anything that draws more attention to himself. The mannerisms and patterns of speech of this character are so like Bunthorne that I thought perhaps Ibsen had lifted the character and dropped it in his play – but apparently vain poets are a more universal phenomenon than I’d expected, as it’s Ibsen that beat G&S to the punch by at least 30 years!

At any rate, Poulsen is a hysterical addition to this play, and wonderfully performed by Danny Lee Wynter in a painfully inappropriate blonde wig. To top it off, his friend Jorgen (David Osmond) is on the same level of over-the-top-ness – and while it could have made the play a camp carnival, instead it made it easier to swallow. Goblins? People hallucinating in the woods? Fairy tales coming to life? WHY NOT? Add a dollop of greed courtesy of Mrs. Birk and wide-eyed first love googliness from Anne (Louise Calf) and Birk (Ed Birch), and you’ve got more than enough plot and characters to make for a full night. I found it charming and enjoyable, a good value for the money and very fine performances to boot. Just be warned to snag those front row seats or you’ll find yourself limping out the door.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday July 17th, 2012, and continues through August 4th.)

Review – Metamorphosis Titian 2012 – Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House

July 19, 2012

There will be lots of critical words spilled over Monica Mason’s final event at the Royal Opera House, so I’ll save repeating what everyone else will say (oh, a robot! etc.) and stick with my own views. Consider this an editorial, if you will, rather than a proper review. I’m going to build this as a sort of pre-retrospective, judging the show based, not on how innovative it was, but how likely I think it is to stand the test of time.

Act 1, Machina, a.k.a. “the one with the robot.” Unsurprisingly, this was by Wayne McGregor, who for some reason was sharing the reins with Kim Brandstrup and making him try to do choreography around a giant (15 foot tall?) robot with six planes of motion. Coolness: the early scenes with the scrim behind them and a baleful light poking through, with the ambiance of people dying on a dry plain – the kind of place I imagine mythology happening. Bit I hope to see again: pure hunter Carlos Acosta’s duet with lean-like-a-stag Edward Watson. It was totally McGregor and, while that style of angles does not suit Acosta, his muscular style made this moment electric. Also good: Tamara Rojo sliding across Ed’s body in another duet sequence. I vote this is revived in a special place of too hot to handle stage moments that I can treasure in private.

Act 2, Trespass, a.k.a. “the one with the mirror.” The opening scene of the male dancers posing and dancing in a circle was the most homoerotic thing I’d seen since “Canto Vital” at the Carlos and Friends show back in 2009 – a veritable Kirk/Spock slashfest on the stage of the Royal Opera House. Wahoo! I loved the costumes – the men’s had circuit board patterns on the chests and a stripe of color across the upper thighs, making them look rather like naked robots, while the women’s seemed to be patterns of eyes – except for the woman playing Diana (Melissa Hamilton?), who got to look like she was naked. While there was some interesting stuff going on here in terms of people being able to glimpse each other through the mirror (when it was lit a certain way) and the anger of the violated goddess, it didn’t feel like something we were really ever going to see again. Pity, though, as the costuming was great.

Finally we have “the one with the singing,” Diana and Actaeon, also known as “the one with the really busy set.” After so much post modern grey and silver, it was wonderful to have something that was riotously colorful in a Marc Chagall kind of way, with bonus “people in dog costumes” (who carried their heads instead of wearing them, which allowed them to dance much better). While I generally loved what people were wearing in this section, I have to bitch about Chris Ofili’s bizarre choice to put Diana (Marianela Nunez) in orange. HELLO GODDESS OF THE MOON not the sun ORANGE IS NOT RIGHT.

A lot of this ballet was Nunez trying to push Actaeon (Bonelli) away, which I found quite mystifying – how did a hunter EVER get his hands on a goddess? How could there even be a hint of her responding erotically to him? I also found the “hands over boobs and crotch” gestures over used. Fun: the dogs, the other hunting group, Actaeon’s costume turning bloody via costume magic when he’s attacked by the dogs.

So when I re-do this ballet as a one act, it’s going to have the good solos from Machina, the costumes from Trespass, and a mixture of the men’s scenes from Trespass, with the Diana of Actaeon … dressed in blue. Plus the dogs and the male/female hunters, because they rocked. But seriously: while I loved the scope and inventiveness of this evening, I don’t feel that any of this will ever be revived (other than out of pig-headedness) and will certainly never make it into the repertoire of any other company. Except, maybe, for Wayne’s bit, because, while he is a bit of a nerd for the technology, he can sure get dancers to look beautiful on stage, and not just because they’re wearing revealing costumes.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Monday, July 16th, 2012. Its final night is tonight.)

Theatre going in London during the 2012 Olympic Games – a personal view

July 16, 2012

A year ago, if you’d asked me what I thought the effect of the Olympics on my theater going habit was going to be, I’d have said, “Well, nothing, other than the fact that I’m planning on getting out of town for the entire two weeks!” But as we’re getting closer to the date (and, as it’s turned out, I’ve not had enough spare holiday to escape for the whole time), I’d had to realize that there has been a London effect on theater going during the Olympics, including during an extended pre-games build-up period. So I’m going to talk about that, and, LOCOG, if you think I’m going to change the title of my post because I’m not an official Olympics sponsor, you can just fuck right off.

Initially, there was some pre-games hysteria in the form of a rumor that many West end shows would go dark during the entire two week period (now only true for Sweeney Todd). This made sense to me: most theater-going in London is done by locals, and most of us were likely to try to escape town, stay home, or generally reduce our travel as much as possible during this period. (God knows TFL has been encouraging us to stay at home.) But I haven’t seen any announcements of theaters acting like it’s The Blitz anywhere, so this seems to not have come true.

A surprising side effect has been a plethora of new art in the build-up period, with the Globe-to-Globe “37 plays in 37 languages” Shakespearean event at the (shock!) Globe, a Pina Bausch celebration (she’s a choreographer for you guys who only do theater), and the “Greenwich and Docklands International Festival” (which carefully said nothing about the Games in order to keep themselves all clean with LOCOG). There was even an original staging of the movie Chariots of Fire (which felt too much to me like a calculated money grab to be very exciting) at the Hampstead Theater (which announced a transfer to the West End before it opened) and, for those of you who like film, a big project by the BFI to restore Hitchcock’s silent movies and pay for original scores to go with. Now, you can be a big Olympics hater (like me), but if you love the arts it’s hard not to get excited about these projects. In my mind it’s all part of the Jubilee and general celebration of cool stuff in England, and I’m okay with that. I mean, Hitchcock! Shakespeare! That whole music on a boat on the river thing! What’s not to love?

Well, I’ll tell you what’s not to love: the specter of total transport shutdown during the Olympics for anyone who’s trying to do anything like going about their normal routine – you know, work, home, maybe a show on the way back. But on Friday I realized the Hackney Empire – where I was planning to go see the Chinese opera The Monkey King on Sunday August 12th – is on the Overground route to Stratford, which means that getting there would be a complete nightmare. That poster of the horse on the escalator? Yeah, it would be like that, only with carriage after carriage full of people who don’t know how to ride public transportation blocking me out. I imagine the horse crapping on each step of the stair as it walks up it.

And, really, this is the fear I have for anything I can’t actually walk to from work. I’m looking at my calendar for the Olympics period and thinking: am I going to be able to get to any of it? Day one, it’s the Landor Theater for Kander & Ebb’s Curtains: since it’s on the Northern Line and south of the city, it looks safe (and frankly if I can’t there I won’t be able to get home either so I really hope this isn’t a problem). Long Day’s Journey into Night is walkable, but my friend who works in Canary Wharf may be shafted (especially given the 7 PM start time). The New Diorama Theater (with “The Rover“) is another walkable job, but can I get home from Euston? King’s Cross is supposed to be a no-man’s land. AAARGH.

As a consequence of all of this uncertainty, I’ve pretty much booked nothing for the entire period other than a five day trip to Greece. I don’t know if the theaters of London have noticed this yet or not but we’re talking probably 8-10 shows less than I would have got tickets for under normal circumstances. Rumor has it there are some good Olympic time theater deals bubbling up – ATG just put out a Best of British promotion and more may be coming soon – but I haven’t seen a flood of them yet. Keep an eye on

Mini-review – A Winter’s Tale – Propeller at Hampstead Theater

July 13, 2012

What happens if you take the worst Shakespearean play ever and have it performed by the world’s best Shakespearean company?

That’s the question I was asking myself when I booked to see Propeller‘s A Winter’s Tale at the Hampstead Theater. I don’t buy that every play by the Bard is good: while he may hold as a poet, some things just don’t fly these days. And the ending of this play is just too far gone to be credible to me. It also is jarring in tone, being a sort-of comedy with themes that are better suited to Othello than Much Ado. Silly shepherds being gulled by a salesman OH HO HO um only remember just a few minutes back when a loyal and good man was being eaten alive by a bear? Or even just a few scenes ago when we saw a woman die because of her husband’s irrational jealousy? Wait I’m laughing so hard I can’t stand it! Or maybe it’s really a tragedy with a tacked on, Hollywood (or Dickensian) happy ending …

I can’t help but think that given the material, Propeller have hugely succeeded with this show, because they kept my focus throughout (even the horrible pastoral party scene, much enlivened by a drag Girl Scout) but also got me emotionally involved in the plot thanks to the top notch acting. Richard Dempsey broke my heart as Hermione, and Robert Hands was convincingly over the edge as Leontes.

And yet … and yet …

Even with the comedy sheep band of the second half of this show, I found most of the scenes in Bohemia irritating (the father/son confrontation excluded), and the final scene in the sculpture room just made me want to pull my hair out. WHAT oh WHAT was Shakespeare thinking? I could not suspend my disbelief to accept the ending of this play as anything other than a … well, these day I would have thought the studio had forced the director to add it, like Decker’s voiceover in Bladerunner. I walked out shaking my head, again. If you’re a Shakespeare completist, then this may be your best chance to see the least painful performance of this play possible, but I can pretty confidently now say that I will die and never again go back for a production of A Winter’s Tale.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, July 11, 2012. It continues at the Hampstead until July 21st.)

Mini-review – Flora the Red Menace – Landor Theater

July 11, 2012

Two months ago, in May, I heard of a revival of a Kander and Ebb musical I’d never heard of before – Flora the Red Menace – taking place at a pub way up in Walthamstow. I adore Kander and Ebb, and I was willing to see it by myself and in a location that guaranteed I’d get home around midnight – but I saw a dismissive online review, I saw too many shows in a row, and suddenly I was exhausted and needed a night off (ten shows in nine nights is too much even for me). So I took a pass, figuring I’d listen to a cast recording some time and figure out where the Rose and Crown was some other night.

And then … it was transferred to the Landor Theater. Hurray! It’s only a few Tube stops away from my house so much easier to get to. So I headed over there only to find I’d picked a night the show was dark! Fiddle dee dee, and may I say that changing the website to show available ticket dates starting from the NEXT available date rather than all possible shows would have really helped me not waste a trip.

So now it was a mission, and yesterday I finally made it to the show. I was worried about an incoherent plot (per Wikipedia) and weak performances for the non=leads (per the review I read), but as it turns out I found the play completely coherent and believable – who doesn’t occasionally pick up with a nutty boyfriend in college? I found Flora’s struggle to hold to her ideals while her boyfriend attempted to make her toe the line on communism realistic and easily applicable to, say, religion or any other thing people get fanatical about. And while some of the song and dance numbers didn’t entirely make sense (why did Flora have an arts studio with tap dancers in it? Who cares!), the strength of the music just carried me along in a very pleasant evening. And to make it extra nice, the costuming was way above the level of most pub theater and the hair was just perfect (I wanted to learn how to do the styles).

One thing the other review got right – Katy Baker as Flora was a powerhouse, verging on a Ethel Merman style house-filling personality. And yet her coperformers weren’t slackers (one was very soft), but generally engaging. All in all, this was a good evening that not only gave me an opportunity to see a professional production of a forgotten work by my favorite songwriting team of all time, but did so in a way that made me happy I’d gone. It’s only on for a few more days, so catch it while you can.

(This review is for a performance that took place on July 10th, 2012. It ends July 14th. If you like Kander and Ebb, GO!)

Mini-review – Birthday – Royal Court Theater

July 3, 2012

Great news, guys! For this episode of Saturday Night Live, we’ve managed to line up not just Jerry Hall, but, for one crucial segment, we’ve got her husband Mick Jagger! And this is going to be a funny one, guys: we’re doing a bit in which the gag is that MEN CAN HAVE BABIES. Yes, that’s right, we’re going to have Mick Jagger in a hospital bed, nine months’ pregnant, with Jerry Hall comforting him as he’s about to go into labor! We’ve thought about some of the medical details, which since they’re not possible means it’s going to have to be set a little bit in the future, but basically this is going to be PURE COMEDY GOLD, people. Imagine him whining about how “she can’t really understand the pain” while she tells him that “the children make up for all of it.” Then we’ll have a nurse come in and make him undergo humiliating medical procedures!

Yes, that’s right, we’re going to have Mick Jagger on his knees in a hospital bed while he has a rectal manipulation! And for extra fun, we’ve made the nurse character black, so she can be an unsympathetic, practical, and somewhat cruel stereotype of what you expect when you have to go to a publicly owned hospital! I mean, the jokes practically write themselves! I’ve got twelve waiting to go right now, but just picture this: Jagger, in a preggo suit, saying, “I’m hormonal, I can’t help myself!” IT’S GOING TO BE BRILLIANT!

…. only instead it was 90 minutes long and it was Lisa Dillon and Stephen Mangan and the jokes stopped being funny long before the show was over. Oh well, win some, lose some, and at £10 I could at least be grateful I hadn’t paid much for the experience. It was a missed opportunity to point out the shortcomings in investment in the NHS, but then the play might have been longer, so … well, you know, at least I was home by 10.