Friday, December 07, 2012

Earlier this week, I hopped along to see the Traverse Christmas show. Well, one of them. The one intended for slightly older people. The Arthur Conan Doyle Appreciation Society.

They did a most gorgeous show written (dangerously from my memory) by I
think Chris Hannah I think a couple of years ago that featured a rollicking and swashbuckling title centred on the Princess of Spain. It was silly, fun, beautifully done and generally wonderful. Furthermore, this is the second outing of new Artistic Director, Orla. I missed her first so was excited to see her second.

All in all, I had high hopes for Arthur.

But Arthur couldn't quite make up its mind about what it wanted to be.

Bear in mind that I saw a preview. If twitter is to be believed, they finished the dress rehearsal two hours before. (Professional theatre, eh? To think I hanker (secretly) for it.) So the show as presented that night may have been a little rough round around the edges.

But I do not think roughness can account for my general uneasy dissatisfaction with the beast as I saw it. And I can't quite work out why.

It's a nice story. It was pretty well acted. Though the accents. Well I presume the Spaniard was Spanish. But even I who has no ear for a West Coast accent could tell that the other chap's accents were a bit ropey. Mind you, they were both meant to be bad actors. I think. So he may in actuality be very versatile.

I think it was the story that caused me most problems. A wild jumble of stuffs. A play within a play. An excuse to present a bunch of potted versions of Sherlock Holmes stories (nice). An excuse to present some reflections on the life of Conan Doyle (nice). An excuse to wheel on Mr Harry Houdini for some remarkable tricks (great fun). An excuse to play around with some very spectacular visual effects and theatrical trickery. Look out for the piano. Just magic!

But as an attempt to extract a swashbuckling yarn from a fundamentally sad story about a man who experienced so many bad things in his life that he wished above everything that there was a life after death? This bit didn't quite cut it for me.

But please don't take my word for it. Go and see it as maybe I've done it a terrible disservice. For I wanted to love it. And let me know what you think.


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