Thursday, May 31, 2007
After Tuesday’s Adventures in Noh, Wednesday night saw a return to more conventional West End fare, as I had tickets to see the Sheffield production of Fiddler On The Roof at the Savoy Theatre.
I took my mother, as it’s one of her favourite musicals, so no bribes of wine or promises of young men in tight white sailor suits were required to coax her up out of the suburbs.
Lindsay Posner’s production is a conventional one that retains most of Jerome Robbins’ original Broadway choreography. And if you take it on those terms, if you’re not expecting it to twiddle with the text in any way or do anything particularly new with the material, it makes for an enjoyable evening. Reliable. Solid. (It's perhaps not surprising then that Lyn Gardner liked it not so much). Henry Goodman makes a decent Tevye, though he rather dominates the other cast members and relies a little too much on silly voices and panto double-takes for my liking. Even so both my mum and I enjoyed it considerably – though we both thought they rather fumbled the (much shorter) second half, when the big familiar musical numbers give way to darker ground. The emotional kick that the destruction of the village and the family’s separation should deliver was rather lacking.
Our experience was also slightly tainted by the family behind us, who midway through the (admittedly long) first act began to unpack a Pret a Manger bag stuffed with crisps, flapjacks and fruit pots – a veritable picnic – which they started to consume well before the interval. Now I’ve spent evenings in Richmond Theatre, home of world-class handbag rummagers and ice-cream spoon twiddlers and ‘Oh hello Gladys, I haven’t seen you in months, why don’t you tell me all about your new granddaughter, right here during this pivotal moment of play’, so I understand that complete silence in the stalls is probably asking to much, especially during a big, popular show such as this, but this takes the (Pret A Manger carrot and walnut) cake. There was also a chap a few seats along from me, busy subjecting his girlfriend to a kind of Judaism 101 all through the show: “that’s a mezuzah”, “that’s a prayer shawl”, “look, they’re going to smash a glass now,” which was sort of sweet, but again this went on all through the show, so no, bad. Grumble.