Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Royal Ballet Mixed Rep: Robbins’ “Afternoon of a Faun,” Balanchine’s “Zigane” and … something by Wheeldon

March 26, 2008

Last night I went to Covent Garden with Josela and Mabel_Morgan to see the mixed bill on offer. I hadn’t initially been too tempted, as I have yet to see a dance incorporating video that I’ve liked; but when I read that Carlos Acosta was going to be strutting his stuff AND there would be a Jerome Robbins piece, I was sold – especially when I realized I could get Ye Olde 5 quid day of show tickets. Color me shallow, not in the least because I decided I could leave without seeing the last performance (by Ashton, who’s still very “whatever” in my book) and then have some much needed time to pack. Oh well, I guess they wouldn’t have two intermissions if they didn’t want to let us leave without disturbing everyone else.

So, the Wheeldon – “Electric Counterpoint,” brand new and all, only on its fifth performance. Can I mention the night started extremely well, thanks to getting a free, bad-work-memory-erasing, second round of margaritas at Wahaca? Anyway, music credited to Bach and Reich – I was happy about that. But. Oh, the but. The dancers each came on stage for little solos, accompanied by some Bach and their own voices speaking about how they felt about dance and while dancing, while a video of him/her performed behind on a screen, sometimes mirroring them, sometimes illustrating what they were saying. It wasn’t bad, the dance and the video, but the movement was uninteresting (sadly on both parts) and the voiceovers were vapid. I mean, gosh, I’m sure the dancers are nice people, but all of it was a distraction from the dance, and the dance wasn’t good. Mabel said the whole thing reminded her of “Creature Comforts,” a TV show (I was told) in which normal people answer questions and their answers are then reproduced as claymation. Horribly, I think she was right.

The second half of the piece benefited from having nothing but the live Reich to listen to, and while I enjoyed it, it didn’t have a lot of energy or excitement – a quality sadly shared by the action on stage. I’ve seen Wheeldon do good couple work, and there were some moments when I got lost watching two people just dancing with each other, but mostly I just had no response to the performance at all. The videos weren’t always aggravating and I was mostly able to ignore them, but … it just seemed like a big failure to me, one of those pieces that will get revived one more time and then fall out of rep. So it goes.

Next up was Jerome Robbins “Afternoon of a Faun,” which, to my surprise, I realized I had seen before the one time we’d seen City Ballet in New York. It’s a clever play on the traditional story, with a sexy dancer lounging about in a studio, but to be honest what I really want to see is the original choreography. I aslo wanted it to be longer. And I wanted a pony.

Finally it was time for “Zigane,” a Balanchine piece I’d not seen before. It was kind of fun and certainly better than the Martins I’d seen the night before, but in no way mindblowing – fun, well-executed filler that he probably crapped out at a nickle for the dozen back in the day. We all left together; if I’m going to be convinced of the genius of Ashton, it’s far more likely to happen at Sylvia than during a short work.

(This review was for a performance that took place Wednesday, March 19th, 2007.)

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“Dealer’s Choice” at Trafalgar Studios

March 11, 2008

Last Tuesday we went to Trafalgar Studios to see “Dealer’s Choice,” following a fine review from the West End Whingers. I dragged along my usual co-conspirator J. as well as Wechsler, figuring a play about poker would be a guaranteed win for an occasionally less-than-enthusiastic theatrical attendee. (J was of course as excited about going as I was.)

Dealer’s Choice is a perfect boy/girl date show, much like the movie Grosse Pointe Blank. The normal “ooh, ick, we’re in the theater” is overcome by the macho atmosphere of poker playing. Well, that’s a fair description, because what this is is, simply, a great play. Set half in the kitchen and dining room of a restaurant and half in its basement (where the after the interval poker game takes place), Dealer’s Choice is an on-the-edge-of-your-seat story with a really interesting cast of characters (a la Ocean’s Eleven). I have to give credit to the great cast and the great writing – there were no minor characters in this play (a real contrast to another “all men” drama, Glengarry Glen Ross, in which every character seemed to talk in the same voice). The poker game becomes a power play between the different characters, and watching them attempt to psyche each other out and figure out each other’s weaknesses sucked me right in, even though my knowledge of gambling is paltry. (Amusingly, the cards played during the show matched exactly what the characters said they’d been dealt – quite a feat of stagecraft in my book.)

At any rate, at £21 per ticket (easily available at half price if you buy online), Dealer’s Choice was a great play and a great night out. I highly recommend it.

The Gavin Bryars Ensemble: A Man in a Room, Gambling (Tate Modern)

February 28, 2008

Tonight J and I were lucky enough to get to the Tate Modern to see Gavin Bryars and his ensemble perform “A Man in a Room, Gambling,” a piece based on a spoken word performance by Juan Muñoz.

The concept was pretty cool: as I read it, it was spoken word about a person’s thoughts during the course of a night of gambling, or, as described in the program, “strategies employed in card games.” In fact, it turns out the spoken bit is about how to cheat at cards, starting with three card monte, then dealing from the bottom of the deck, how to “fake” cutting the cards, and how to hide a card you’ve palmed after the hand is over. Hah! According to Mr. Bryars, Muñoz’s thought was that the various pieces were supposed to be little one off radio slots, rather like “The Shipping News” (for Americans, imagine that poet of the day thing Garrison Keilor does), that stood by themselves but had an air of strangeness to them, meant to be heard as you were going from one thing to the next. In between, there was a piece called “The North Shore,” a piece Bryars made in honor of his friend Muñoz, whom he described as “a great artist and a good bloke.” It was built off of one of the pieces from the Gambling series, though I couldn’t tell which one.

My review of the show was … well, Bryar’s music can be very difficult for me to put temporal order to. One minute you’re doing one thing, one the next, and while I might hear little themes that I sort of briefly recognize, or hear stylings that I enjoy, I find it difficult to string it together in my head. This is where listening to a CD can really help, because you can build it up over and over until it makes a structure that you can comprehend. Live music is so very here and now, a series of seconds taking place one after the other, that it can be hard for me to feel like I’m moving rather than just having sound images flashing at me, one after the next. Baroque music isn’t like this. That said, the narrative provided by the voice, which called up very striking visuals and was even sequential and goal oriented, was a good companion to the music. And I liked the music, but modern stuff just isn’t as easy as earlier stuff.

Conclusion: well, I guess I need to go see who this Muñoz guy is and why Bryars thought he was worth collaborating with in the first place. The exhibit at the Tate goes on through the end of April, so there’s plenty of time. And if YOU’RE interested, if you click on the link, you can listen to Juan giving away the trick to dealing from the bottom of the deck. My guess is that J will be practicing them now that he’s heard all of the secrets. Finally: three card monte: you can never win. Juan said so.

Show order: From A Man in a Room Gambling (1992); Number 2 (Three card trick), Number 4 (Shifting upper pakc to bottom), Nmber 3 (cutting), Number 8 (Getting rid of extra cards). The North Shore (1994). Then Number 16 (Taking cards from teh bottom), Number 9 (Three card trick, Mexican Row) and Number 10 (Dealing from the bottom). I wanted desperately to stay afterwards and have my picture taken with the great man himself, but … well, I can just hope there is a next time!

(This review is for a concert that took place Thursday, February 28, 2008.)

Shen Yun “Divine Performing Arts” Ensemble – Chinese Art Spectacular – Royal Festival Hall

February 23, 2008

NOTE: I completely support freedom of religion, and I support the right of Fa Lun Gung practitioners to follow their religion as they see fit. This review is NOT “anti-Fa Lun Gung,” it is simply a theatrical review of what was billed as an arts performance. I am against the suppression of Fa Lun Gung as it is against the universal rights of man to not be able to follow the religion you choose.

Well, this was not the night I was expecting. I was warned, more or less, in the opening number, in which pretty dancing ladies in traditional dress, buddhist monks, and Chinese warriors danced on stage in front of a video screen. Suddenly, a flying chariot shot down from the sky and the deity within it said, “All come together and live a thousand years!” or something like that, and the people on stage all turned and bowed to the video screen.

Oh my God, we had bought tickets to a Chinese religious “revival.” And this wasn’t some run of the mill religion: it was the heavily persecuted Fa Lun Gung cult, for two and a half hours. Holy shades of Xenu, Batman!

To be clear, there was quite a bit of traditional Chinese dance, including a charming “Tibetan bowl dance,” a number in which whirled yellow handkerchiefs (which looked like dandelions) made a field of flowers (supposedly forsythias), and two different fan dances. But these were interspersed with the most heinous vocal performances I’ve seen since … well, I am thinking of Lyric Opera Northwest’s Carmen, but we weren’t really suffering from poor vocals. What we were presented was a culturally painful pastiche of anime style hooped ballgowns, a straight Western singing style, and lyrics … all about Fa Lun Gung. Let me give you an example.

“So vast loomed this world/I knew not who I was/Oh how many lifetimes? The number was a blur.
“Lost no help in sight/Only distress and pain/How weary, how heavy was this longing heart.
“Until one day I finally came upon the truth/Until The Way (Da Fa, from Fa Lun Da Fa, the great path of Fa Lun Gung) I had sought pierced the ear like thunder.” (Okay, that’s not as obvious as the one where the woman sang, “Fa Lun Gung, it’ll make you feel better,” but this happens to be the one I had the pen out for.)

I was mortified. I had inadvertently fell into a cache of very sincere religious people singing and dancing their hearts out in support of their faith, and I had paid to be there.

To be fair, the artistry was quite good if you like Chinese dance, and the erhu (Chinese violin) performance was great, but I was crawling in my skin and rather angry with the promoters for hiding the true nature of this performance. I mean, I have no one to blame but myself for not realizing that the Bach “Saint John’s Passion” is basically a really long Bible reading, but the promotional material for this performance said it was a Chinese performing arts presentation, and indicated nowhere that it was a group of American Fa Lun Gung believers on a tour of Europe to raise consciousness about their great religion and their persecution by the Chinese government.

That said, I was quite absorbed by the two pieces about how, well, let’s be clear, the Chinese authorities beat up, imprison, and sometimes kill people who practice Fa Lun Gung. The piece set in the prison (with three women prisoner who clearly are being held because of their faith) may have been extremely corny insofar as it proposed that someone could see images of dancing Chinese fairies if they believed hard enough; but the bit about being beaten to death in jail, that was pretty real and it hit a nerve that most dance I see just pretends isn’t even there. The two women who saw their friend joining the angels in heaven (albeit a Chinese/Buddhist heaven): totally outside of my belief system, and yet the raw need to believe something positive could come out such a horrible death (and probably some rather bad lives) was palpable from my balcony seat. It even gave me some sympathy for my own torturers. And, I have to admit, the way China’s ramping up throwing dissidents in jail with the Olympics on the way, I felt rather cheery about having someone say, “Yo! China! Let’s talk about how great it isn’t!” (This was exactly the point made in the other religious dance piece, in which the mother and her daughter started out waving a Fa Lun Gung banner and were then forcibly separated by soldiers – the rather subtle message being that the world should not be a bystander to this abuse. They pointed this out to us before it started in case we might have missed the extremely heavy-handed symbolism.) I imagine the Chinese government gnashing its collective teeth over this show, which, well, really worked the political angle, generally speaking in a club like way.

Fa Lun Gung also seemed not so great, based on the dance piece in which the punk and the goth had goddesses and monks shaming them for their bad clothes (but then rewarding them with a religious text in a scene that had me thinking of Joseph Smith and the golden tablets) – is conformity really such a virtue for them? I think, though, rather than them disliking them for being “punk,” it may be, in fact, that they were being rejected for being homosexual – and for me, a religion (or culture or country) that persecutes homosexuals is not one that I could ever support.

While the religious element in general had me wishing for a much earlier end to the show, I also take issue with it being too long overall, using video screens in an imagination-inhibiting way, and … well, the singers just shouldn’t have been there at all, because they were boring and they ruined the flow of the rest of the show. And how could they do a show about Chinese arts and culture that didn’t have even a nod to the Journey to the West? So while at the end we were exhorted to bring our friends and family, I will say to you instead: avoid, avoid, avoid this show, even if you really like Chinese culture (like I do) – it’s like watching a two and a half hour long religious infomercial.

Carl Rosa Opera “The Mikado” at the Gielgud Theater

February 11, 2008

For three months or more I’ve been looking foward to seeing The Mikado at English National Opera. And then, a week or so before it was to play, I suddenly heard …. an entirely different company was doing the same production, at the same time, in a smaller house, with the costumes from Topsy Turvy.

Well. Carl Rosa Opera Company, you say? I’d never heard of them, but I dropped ENO faster than you can say “”Three little maids from school are we” (more lyrics and a humorous quiz here) and bought high altitude seats at the Gielgud (where recently we’d seen Macbeth – a more different show could hardly be imagined!). Fortunately the orbital section was lightly populated and we were able to make our way from the very very edge into the center, though still some 500 rows up (and yet still better than the shit seats at Spamalot!). This was enough for a fine view of what were ultimately to be very silly proceedings.

What, really, am I to say about The Mikado in general? I had never seen it before, and thus it was on my list of Shows I Want To See, especially after performing in Patience a few years back in Seattle. It’s just … it’s very silly. “Oh, a missive from the Mikado!” says a character. “But it’s all in Japanese!” (Pause.) “But I am Japanese, and we are in Japan! This means I can read it.” It wasn’t about being authentically Japanese, it wasn’t even pretending – which is good, because the sets were mostly Chinese and the women’s costumes had so many things wrong with them that I would have been really bothered if I’d have thought they were trying to get it “right.” With characters named Peep-Bo and Yum Yum, who were they kidding?

But you know, what’s right for Gilbert and Sullivan? Was it amusing, could you understand the lyrics (which are funny), was it tuneful, did you enjoy watching it? Really, it’s a taste you either have or you don’t, and I kind of have to start from the point that this is the kind of thing you’ll enjoy, with its multiple layers of corn and utter lack of depth, as I do. It’s in some ways a recreation of Victorian society, and, since I find it interesting and amusing, I enjoyed it. The costumes were top quality, the choreography entertained my eye, the updated lyrics (to two songs) were a hoot (“I’ve got a little list” with all of the modern pecadillos and politicos was great), the women’s voices (especially the trios) shimmered. My only complaints were that the men were not tight enough with their patter (and if the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan society could drill us into the ground, these guys could do as least as well as we did) and the entire performance seemed a bit … well, passionless. Like Lear and the infamous Mary Poppins, this show just smacked of “we could do this in our sleep and some of us may at this very moment be in another room.” They didn’t have the commitment of the Annie Get Your Gun folks, who were singing their damn hearts out to a capacity crowd of about 50. But still, it was professional, at at 15 quid a ticket, we really could not complain. If you like G&S or have an interest in this play or this era of theatrical history, I do recommend this show. That said … I think I’ve had my fill for another six months or so, and will be taking a pass on Iolanthe and The Pirates of Penzance. But in the future I know I’ll see more G&S, and, truth be told, I fancy I’ll want to see another Mikado, but only if done as well as this one was.

(This review is of a performance seen Friday, February 8th, 2008.)

Chita Rivera at the Shaw Theater (London) – Ars Longa, Chita Brevis

February 10, 2008

Well, going to see Chita Rivera with the West End Whingers last night was really quite fun. I had a nice buzz going from all of the wine I had before the show and, as she talked about the passage of the years, I could practically feel them blowing by me. Unfortunately I don’t really have a grasp on the early part of her career (as I didn’t make it through West Side Story – the copy we rented was so horrible we gave up after about half an hour) so I didn’t really get the buzz from hearing her talk about and sing the songs of those, er, decades (hard to believe that someone like her would do a touring Sweet Charity back in the day – did they actually once have quality actors do tours instead of hacks?).

But she sang SO many songs from shows I’d never heard of (The Rink? Phil called it the one with the rollerskating dogs, but it was just a dog with rollerskates from the description she gave) that I felt like she represented the tip of a huge iceberg of music I’d only ever experienced a fraction of. So much more wonderful music out there for me to learn! And watching her dance, I though, how strange it was to see this – she represented a physical memory that just couldn’t be recreated other than in her body. So much of the stuff she’s done and been in is just gone, and yet, as she started singing, “Big Spender,” I felt she could hear the words and the movement as a whole within her – a piano ker-slap (thump PIVOT), “I could tell …” (thrust ripple) “at the time …” – and so MANY of these things were buried in her, she was a veritable altar of musical theater and should be being carefully mined for all of her knowledge n an expedited basis.

Oh, but to see her sing, “Nowadays …” just an echo of the old days with Gwen Verdon, but so lovely … all of those years rising up in front of us, and all is heaven and I had to fight not to sing along. Aaaah. And then there was more wine and catty comments exchanged between old friends and talking about the rise and fall of musical theater (in England and the US) and how the dogs got rollerskates. Truly a great night out! (And hopefully soon I’ll review Friday’s outing to the Carlo Rossa Company’s Mikado, but with a six day work week, I’m a bit short on free time.)

(This review is for a show that took place Saturday, February 9th, 2008.)

Punchdrunk Production’s Masque of the Red Death – Battersea Arts Centre

January 6, 2008

Sold out as it was months in advance, I was quite excited to finally have the date arrive for which I’d bought tickets to see Masque of the Red Death at the Battersea Arts Centre (especially since it’s near the Clapham Common train station, an easy five minutes by train from my place). I had some idea of what to expect after having been to see the same company’s Faust the year before, but in some ways I really had no idea what was going to happen. I hadn’t prepared by reading any Poe, I hadn’t read other people’s reviews, I just didn’t know what was going to happen other than that there would be different rooms and I would need to explore. And, I was firmly hoping, there would be a bar.

We arrived for the 7:15 show – I wanted the earlier tickets because I knew there would be too much for me to see in the time given. We had a group of 10, including my Streatham pack of pals, my houseguest, Wechsler and my spousal unit. Once we had masks on (Venetian-style white face masks, required for all audience members), it became difficult to tell them apart from everyone else (Simon’s orange hair and bald spot; Paul’s fluffy black hair and leather trenchcoat; Wechsler’s Cyberdog’s necklace), though since I was wearing my red silk Victorian bustle outfit I was pretty easy to pick out. We were split up almost immediately, and while I managed to keep together with my three, the rest of the group only really came back together at some magical point in The Golden Bug, the bar slash music hall stuffed up a stairwell in the building. This bit was really great, as two of us were called upon during a “magic” show in which Roderick Usher “read our minds” – fascinating when just a short time earlier we’d seen him upstairs having fits while his houseguest attempted to rouse him with poetry.

During the three hours we were inside the building I completely failed to view all of the rooms of the building. In part, this was because different rooms seemed to open and close at different times, on a schedule that was a mystery to me. There were also rooms that had entry restricted to just a few guests. I was lucky enough to get into two of these: the library, in which a skull talked to four people about our impending deaths; and “the scientist’s office,” where I had a most peculiar encounter with an older actor who asked to speak to me privately. He chased the other visitors out of the room, then locked the door and began to address me as his “long lost sister, Rose.” He poured me a glass of absinthe, asked me to remove my mask, then proceeded to unburden himself of his guilt over the bizarre experiments he had performed – and the punishment he anticipated in the afterlife. He begged my forgiveness, but I told him that as I was dead, it wasn’t really possible for me to help him. When pressed, I said that I’d lost my memory, and thus could easily forgive him as I remembered nothing. He thanked me, then unlocked the door and ran off. Wow! What an intense moment! I tried to figure out what Poe story featured a character of this sort the next day, but it remains a mystery. And, I’m afraid, in my excitement I dropped the entire contents of my wallet in this room, which rather dampened the post-show cocktail hour.

What’s really odd is that every person I went with seemed to see a different show. It was obvious to me that they were doing something similar to Faust, with a repetition of the main “story” during the course of the night and then one “grand finale” (of course this took place in a ballroom), but everyone I talked to saw different things – a woman murdering a doll, a man seducing a seamstress, the apothecary that gave scented herbs to the visitors, a strange meal in the dining room (with musicians – how did I not hear them), and on and on. I even had one person say that she and the person she was with saw totally different things happening in the same room.

That said, I really want to come back and see this show again, and see the room and stories I missed. It’s clear that it’s more of a tribute to Poe than a recreation of one story, as I thought it would be, and I would benefit from trying to see more rather than trying to make up for my mistake in not following the primary “story” line at Faust – as there is not one in this show. Great show, absolutely worth seeing, don’t miss it!

(This review is for the show that took place on Sunday, December 30th, 2007.)

English National Ballet’s “The Snow Queen” at the London Coliseum: Our thoughts

December 14, 2007

(A bigger review to follow but this should be enough to save you fussing over the show being sold out.)

Me: “The Little Mermaid,” that would make a good ballet, if they could figure out how to do the costumes.
Him: Matthew Bourne should totally do Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a ballet.
Me: The little old lady sitting next to me, she was really fun to talk to.
Him: She sure knew her ballet.
Me: It was only 15 pounds, so it wasn’t that bad of a night, right?
Him: Was it just me or did act 3 go on forever?
Me: No, we were tired of the ballet some time during act 2, so we were just worn out for all of act 3.
Him: Was the climax of the ballet really the boy going, “Ooh, I touch the mirror behind the throne!”
Me: No, it was, “I have the magic power of completing the shiny jigsaw puzzle!”
Him: Why was there a dance with gypsies? How did that move the narrative forward?
Me: She needed someone to tell her where Kai was.
Him: Why didn’t the reindeer just do it himself?
Me: And spend half as much time prancing around? Oh, look, it’s the tube station. Picadilly home?
Him: Yeah, we’re at the dead time for the train.

(This refers to the performance that took place on Thursday, December 13th, which did not take forever but occasionally seemed like it was, especially … well, during the second and third acts.)

Ikrismas Kherol – The Young Vic

December 11, 2007

So – the South African Christmas Carol that I saw at the Young Vic last night (December 10th, 2007) was really good. The description is “set in modern South Africa, with Scrooge a woman who runs a mine.”

Well. The show opened with the “miners” in the “mine shafts” (the catwalks over the stage), clanging and stomping and singing as they finished off their shift, moving into a big central area for a mining pantomime, then heading “up the elevator” to the surface where they sang some more and danced and horsed around, jumping and slapping their boots and … well, the songs, they actually had that kind of “Working on the Railroad” sound to them, like actual mining songs, and while I’m sure miners don’t normally do any kind of synchronized dancing on payday, I loved the energy these guys had. I kept thinking, Billy Elliot, eat your heart out! This show was ten times more tuneful and had much better choreography.

That said, what I really liked about this show was its emotional impact. By setting it in a country where abuse of labor is much more free and poverty much more dire than, say, the US or the UK at present, Scrooge’s selfishness and indifference to others was thrown into much higher relief. At home, someone who says they’d rather not give money to pay a child’s school expenses because “people shouldn’t have kids if they can’t afford them” wouldn’t actually be condemning said child to not go to school; someone who refused to give to a charity kitchen and said that it would be better that the poor should die “and decrease the surplus population” would be seen as being tacky but not leading to other people’s deaths through his or her inaction. (In some cases, I think, this sort of person would just be the typical anti-tax, John Galt, “poor people are lazy” kind of person that thinks he’s actually quite moral and ultimately creating a better society through his “virture of selfishness.”)

But it was clear that in South Africa, without someone to pay the bills for medicine, sick people die in their beds, the poor (especially children) eat garbage until they starve, and prostitution – even if it leads to your own early death – may be the only way to get any of that damned, desperate money you need so very much just to get through to the next day. Did you throw women out of work so that you could sell the land their factory sits upon? Then you may have ruined all of their lives and that of their children and every single person who depended on them to get them a meal and shelter. Even if what you did was just the “free market” acting to “maximize revenue potential,” it was still immoral, and to say there was no reason for you not to do it because “it’s enough for a man to understand his own business” doesn’t excuse it. Invisible hand, my ass.

Sadly, it’s been the Victorian setting of all of the “Christmas Carol”s I’ve seen in the past that kept Scrooge as just a curmudgeon in my eyes rather than a person whose claim that “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s” covers a genuine black hole in his heart. When you look at everyone who’s not as rich as you, who’s not as well-dressed, well-spoken or well-educated as you, and say, “That person, their fate has nothing to do with me, and it’s not my business to try to effect any difference in their life even if it might be in my power to do so,” you are spreading a selfish evil through the world and failing to recognize the web that connects all of us.

At any rate, the story telling power and musical prowess of last night’s Christmas Carol was truly amazing. I was exhilirated and moved, and I stood and clapped my heart out at the end, which I almost never do because I’ve seen lots of theater and it usually doesn’t touch me like this did. Get up and go see it, watch the “Christmas Present” scene of people dancing at at street party in the township, and tell me your view on this story has not been permanently changed.

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.