Friday, November 10, 2006

Let Down By Donkeys Years

Last night I went to see Donkeys' Years at the Comedy Theatre in the West End, Michael Frayn's farce about a group of university friends meeting up for their twenty five year reunion.

I usually see plays on or around opening night, so it made a refreshing and enlightening change, going so late in the run. The most obvious difference was the make-up of the audience, grey predominated, I'd say 75% of people there were over 50 and there were a lot of Americans in, a hell of a lot, several of whom spent the bulk of the play explaning the jokes to each other (and not quietly either). It was interesting in a way, as I suppose this is a true reflection of just who actually keeps these West End shows afloat once the critics have departed. And the production itself seemed tailor-made to cater to such a crowd, with its Oxbridge setting, nostalgic overtones and frantic but unthreatening comedy.

The cast were great, it has to be said, with the ever-excellent David Haig standing out amongst them as the harrassed government minister worried about potential scandal, but there was just an air of so-what about the whole thing. It kept me vaguely amused for a couple of hours but left me unmoved. It just seemed so unadventurous and bland; it's not like I expect every West End show I see to push theatrical boundaries and break new ground but I do expect to be moved or uplifted in some way, and this just didn't cut it. A big disappointment.

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