Some time ago I read a review for a promenade show taking place at Somerset House under the auspices of the National Theater, and I booked tickets for it in part because I was interested in getting to see a bit more of the structure of this historic building (but also because I like promenades). And then, as I do, I totally forgot what it was about, only that it had sounded interesting at the time, but suddenly a little bit less so when I realized the other 8 people going in with me were a bunch of 16 year old girls who seemed REALLY WOUND UP.
The promenade seemed to have four main areas, which provided a sort of experiential trip through the life of a company: the initial phase of excitement and research (with charming laboratory spaces, including one in which a mad, Spanish speaking scientist-type showed us how lemons could generate enough electricity to make a tiny diode glow); the peak of innovation and organization (four rooms with different inventions shown off by Spanish, German, and French speaking people in lab coats – I’ll note that the actual Teasmade does a lot better than just drop a cube of sugar into a cup); the disillusionment (a series of offices showing semi-functional equipment and a scene in which people forced to write letters of apology lose their tempers at their micromanaging boss and strip to show, I imagine, how little they cared for the values or conformity she was trying to enforce – it was very “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”); the collapse (hinted suicides of employees; managers literally signing deals that resulted in them going “underwater,” complete with a fishtank showing little statues of said executives with goldfish – cute!; hugely disfunctional versions of the products shown in the second section); and then, well, a sort of paradise in the form of an arbor lit by lemon-powered lights (real lemons, but the lights were actually plain old fairy lights). I thought it was all a nice journey, lots of work put into tying the various scenes together, and a thoughtful experience of modern corporate culture that I personally related to.
BUT. But but but but. The entire evening was nearly utterly ruined by the wretched, immature, shrieking, giggling teenaged girls who has apparently NEVER SEEN NAKED PEOPLE BEFORE and let’s be honest started off the ngiht SCREAMING AND JUMPING OUT OF THEIR CHAIRS when the lights went off in the first room. Where the fuck were the people who were supposed to be supervising them? Whoever thought it was appropriate for them to see this show? YES it’s fine for 16 year olds to see naked people but because they were IN THE SAME ROOM and only a few feet away from them the girls were SHRIEKING and going, “Oh my god, weenies!” and being utter and complete tits. It was just shit. I had to get away from the group I was with and find a different path to experience it without their stupidity (only to find a different group of the same age – they complained about the people speaking foreign languages they couldn’t understand) but it just didn’t seem possible to get away until the purgatorio section before the very end.
Jesus fucking Christ. Hello, National Theater? No more school groups for this show. It ain’t fucking working. And girls? The next time you see a dude naked, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be wishing he looked as good as ANY of the actors who were performing, with incredible aplomb, at Somerset house last night.
(This review is for a performance that took place on Monday, March 4th, 2013. It’s going through March 30th. I suggest you try to go to later shows so this does not happen to you; my time was 6:45. 9 PM might be MUCH better. I took 1:15 to complete the rounds. No need to wear heavy coats; the space is not cold.)