In the 34 years that I have been a proper theatregoer I have, naturally, seen some bad productions but I have never left a show in the interval of my own accord - yes I left Kate Mitchell's UNCLE VANYA at the Young Vic at the interval but that was at the prompting of my friend Jane who had bought the tickets for my birthday; she said she would rather buy me dinner at the late and great Alfred's on Shaftesbury Avenue. So, Linus Roache as UNCLE VANYA or Alfred's summer pudding? Absolutely no-brainer.
Apropos, here are some Shakespeare productions that had me chewing my programme in anger, frustration or boredom: The National Theatre's recent AS YOU LIKE IT which I blogged was "a superficial production where the set and cast were all surface with no real insight offered or found", the National's 2011 TWELFTH NIGHT directed by Sir Peter Hall and starring his daughter where I thought "Time and again Rebecca Hall give us true moments of jaw-dropping thinness". There was Ian Rickson's 2011 HAMLET at the Young Vic when I blogged that it "all smacked of a 1970s
theatre collective production" and, showing that the Old Vic can put on ghastly Shakespeare too, the truly bizarre MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING from 2013 mis-directed by Mark Rylance where I blogged "I didn't hate it. It just left me bemused and frustrated that it was allowed to be presented as such". But despite all the above, at least I stayed till the curtain call.
Then last week this happened...
Yes Constant Reader, I left in the interval. It was either that or lose my sanity.
Thank you Nick Bagnall - your ghastly production has done what no other director has ever made me do. THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA is rarely produced so here was the perfect chance to see it. But no... I had reckoned without Nick Bagnall deciding to set it in the Swinging 1960s. His reason? Because the play is about young people discovering life and they did that in 1966, oh and he is 'obsessed' with the 1960s. Thankfully the programme had a synopsis which I had to read at the end of the first act as this awful production was so confusing and ghastly.
Owen hit the nail on the head when he said it felt like a production the Upper Sixth had been allowed to put on as part of their drama studies. This is actually a touring production for the Globe and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse. It should have stayed beyond the pale.
Bagnall had the whizzer idea of stopping the action every so often with cod-60s music... if he wanted to stage a musical version of the play, why not go for the 1971 Broadway musical that won Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Book?
The cast were woeful but special mention must be made of Garry Cooper who played the nasty Duke of Milan like the Geoff Tracy "Thunderbirds" puppet operated by someone with Parkinsons. A more ugly performance it would be hard to imagine.
The cast were grindingly amateur and I hope to never see them on a London stage ever again.
However the main culprit for this theatrical cesspit is the Globe's éminence merde Emma Rice. Her ghastly stamp is all over this and it fits in nicely with her reductive ethos: strip everything down to the barest minimum, cross-cast with untalented performers who however are the right gender or race to fit your Politically-Correct check list, make it understandable to anyone with no brain, distract with colour and noise to disguise the paucity of soul or emotion - oh and ramp up the mugging so it feels like New York in the 1970s.
Emma Rice has called her first season Wonder...
I Wonder if I will ever go back to the Globe as long as her shiteous reign lasts.