Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Squeak, Whimper, Croak

Eek. I am without voice, in a physical not ideological sense, you understand. It ran away over the weekend and has yet to return. This is not fun, though it does mean I can currently do a rather super impersonation of Kate Winslet at the end of Titanic: “Jack, Jack, I’ll never let you go, Jack.”

Prior to the rebellion of my vocal chords, I finally got around to seeing Punchdrunk’s The Masque Of The Red Death at the BAC, something I’d been looking forwards to for ages. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed much about the experience, I didn’t make it to the finale, (something with hindsight I suspect is not wholly unrelated to my lack of speaking ability); I hit the two hour mark and began to feel distinctly wobbly, something I attributed to the combination of disorientation and the fug of perfume and incense and my innate pathetic-ness. And though a spot of swooning would have been thematically quite in keeping with surroundings, I didn’t really want to chance it, so I had to admit defeat and seek fresh air and a brief perch on the steps outside.

While I’m rather disappointed with myself for not sticking it out (and I do wonder if the narrative tug of the thing had been just that teeny bit stronger, whether I would have sucked it up and persevered) I think I spent enough time in there to get a good sense of the show. Certainly I did my best to explore every nook and cranny of the lavishly decorated space, though I’m far from convinced I saw everything.

Anyway, if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve either been, plan to go or, if not London-based, have read copious articles about it already (here, here or here, for example), so I’ll keep my additional comments brief.

While the design and the lighting have been much commented on, the use of smell was also impressive. The incense, the perfume, it all added to the piece considerably.

It is not advisable to stand too close to the actors. I got forcibly shoved aside when I made the mistake of loitering in the wrong spot during a corridor fight scene. And yes, I know, this was probably my fault and I know the performers need to stay in character. But still, while I would rather my theatre didn’t solely lull and suckle, I’d also prefer it not leave me with bruises.

While the sight of all those white-faced figures swarming around is undeniably striking, those masks are rather like the hip, edgy theatre-going take on bowling shoes, aren’t they? I hope the next person to wear mine didn't pick up my lurgy.

It’s probably stating the obvious but to get the most out of this, you really need to be in the right mood, the right frame of mind, you need to be active, to explore, to embrace what the company are trying to do, otherwise it can be rather frustrating experience.

The future of theatre? I’m not convinced, but I’d certainly like to revisit it later in the run, when I’m physically more up to up it.


Ian Shuttleworth said...

"to get the most out of this, you really need to be in the right mood, the right frame of mind, you need to be active, to explore" - to explore but also to take cues, as I discovered. I was so intent on exploring that when I heard noise coming from elsewhere I seldom followed it, with the result that I missed whole wodges of action.

Interval Drinks said...

Good point - I came in late to a couple of scenes because I was so enjoying poking about in dark corners and perhaps found the experience even more disjointed as a result.