Friday, August 21, 2015

Two nights. Two excellent shows.

Antigone at the King's Theatre. An International Festival production. Very expensive looking. A strange, slightly mannered adaptation. (Why not use Owen McCafferty's very human script??) A brilliant cast. (I found myself puzzling over where Juliette Binoche could be staying - and what her hotel bill must be. Always a sign of a good show.) A spectacular set. Great lights. Brooding sound. All in all, a stunning production. I had a hundred small niggles - which may have been intended to have this effect. As some have yet to see it, I'll keep these in my heart. But overwhelmingly, I was left unmoved. Too much polish and gloss, perhaps? Bring back the (inhospitable) Quaker Meeting House and the stalker and our last minute save the day hero Antigone (thank you, Karen!) and our story that meant something. To me, anyway.

Last night, a show with a fraction of the budget. Arkle's production of a cracking new script called Bakersfield Mist. The tale of a lady who lives in a trailer park in small town California and seeks expert authentication of her (is it isn't it?) Jackson Pollock. Stories like this are loved by theatre audiences. We get to do our two favourite things. Watch people prank around telling a story. And reflect on how great we are to also appreciate other art forms. What fine, well-rounded, culturally-sensitive people we are.

But (as with Yasmina Reza's Art) this script bursts the bubble a little bit and questions which is more sensible, the lady who knows a little ("more than you think") about art or the man who's spent his life enslaved to art. Lots of questions and the sort of play that left us rooted to our seats at the close, wishing that the ending had been different (but couldn't?? shouldn't??). Really great stuff.

The script shone but so did these actors.  Cards on the table, I know them both. But I don't believe that biased me too much. Hazel Eadie as trailer / Pollock owner Maud is wonderful, with that rare quality in an actor which makes an audience root for her from very early on. So although she's foul-mouthed and swilling JD with abandon and dressed to expose her sunburn and - yes, you might almost say she is just an ordinary lady - you really want to dart up on stage and give her a hug for the unfairnesses that life has thrown her way.

And then there's Ian Aldred as Lionel Percy, the art expert despatched to the back end of beyond to authenticate the painting. You feel he's possibly never set foot in a temporary (for 32 years) home. You know he's willing the painting to be a fake from the outset. Dripping with scorn and disdain and what am I doing he, he prowls about Maud's home like a man who hasn't spent more than a day worrying about anything that isn't worth millions of dollars in his life.  

They're brilliant. Totally at ease with their gigantic amount of words, with their characters, with the twisty turny story. The set is spot on. A fraction of the cost of Antigone's set but entirely does what it's meant to. (The Disney print is wonderful.) The lights as they should be. The sound, including snarling dogs, just right. It was a delight.

So there was that. An exceptionally reasonable £12 for the ticket. Versus the millions of pounds budget lavished on my £18 restricted view ticket to Antigone in the EIF. I love it when so-called amateurs get it right. 


Post a Comment

<< Home