Friday 28 April 2017

With groans that thunder love

"Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" 
- Sir Toby Belch, Twelfth Night

These days for Epictetus, I am sad to say, there are indeed neither cakes nor ale, but, on a happier note, virtue has by no means been the result. The events of the last month have not put a stop to theatre going, but they did put me out of mood for writing about it. It's time to catch up.

As you will have guessed I saw the National Theatre Live transmission of "Twelfth Night" and excellent it was. The currently fashionable cross gender casting (Malvolia and Feste) compounded nicely the cross dressing of the plot and the comedy and cruelty of the play were very well brought out. The director's aim seemed to be to highlight our common humanity regardless of gender, sexuality or race (Sebastian and Viola were played by black actors) which put me in mind of "A Doll's House" which I'd seen earlier in the month.

Ibsen has Torvald tell Nora that she is first and foremost a wife and mother, to which she replies that surely she is first and foremost a human being. One of the reasons for not posting about seeing this play before was that I seem to have been living the plot of it for the last few weeks; real life has had a different ending though. A piece which I have also seen and which most certainly bears no relation to my own circumstances is "Rita, Sue and Bob Too"; perish the thought. This was the original play on which the film was, in part, based. Amusing though the film (strap line "Thatcher's Britain with its knickers down") is, it was provided with a more upbeat ending and the play is darker and better. It also contained substantially more nudity. A real car was on stage for certain, shall we say, climactic scenes and from my seat in the circle it was a procession of bare arses and fannies. I must once again provide a translation for US readers and point out that in British English those two words are not synonyms.

The audience for Andrea Dunbar's play were mainly somewhat raucous (that is a euphemism) women on a night out and many of them looked as if they were interchangeable with the characters on the stage. The same was true for Kay Mellor's "A Passionate Woman", where a more normal bunch of theatre goers watched an amusing take on how a middle class woman lived a life of dreariness until reminded of the secret affair that had once brought love into her life, while her husband turned a blind eye to everything. These last three plays were all to an extent about unhappiness within marriage and, perhaps inevitably, it was the men in them that seemed to be to blame. No comment.

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