Went to theatre last night , well not strictly the theatre itself but our local cinema, where they were screening a live broadcast from the National Theatre of Tom Stoppard's play The Hard Problem. Hadn't read the reviews in advance as I didn't want to spoil it but was keen to see what he'd written after an absence of 9 years .
I have a bit of a hard problem myself with theatre . I never understand why actors always say they prefer the intimacy of the stage compared to films. That's obviously from their perspective but for the audience I always feel as if I'm listening to a shouting match whenever I go to the theatre.
Always a worry when the opening scene is marginally less attractive than the popcorn you've just bought . Youngest son was happy enough with the bucket sized portion and the bladder-busting sized coke to accompany it . In fact I was surprised he was prepared to come with me but pleased , especially as my ulterior motive was to motivate him in time for his drama performance next week for his GCSE . I could never understand why he chose drama as a subject, always having thought in the past that acting was just showing off.
So , there we are , munching our way through fistfuls of sweet and salty ( why is it that I trough at popcorn like a pig at the cinema ? Think it may be because I think no-one can see me ) trying to de-cipher what the hell is going on as we'd stupidly arrived a few minutes late . It was when we got to the exchange that went something like .... " why can a chair not believe it's a chair ? Because it doesn't know how to think " ... that I realised I wasn't going to engage with this play. It's the kind of conversation you have when drunk and so I must have a lot of those sorts of conversation. It didn't help that it was delivered in a phoney American accent that seemed to lapse into pseudo Irish every now and then.
That brings me to my next problem with theatre . I applaud the fact that they cast the actors based on suitability for the role but why do they then make them speak in phoney accents ? I think they all need to pass a GCSE in how to speak American ... for the entire duration of the play. It always ruins it for me . Not wanting to speak entirely gloomily about the play I did like the brain-like lighting sculpture that hung eerily above the stage, flickering every now and then, presumably to resemble the firing of synapses.
So, by about the half way mark , when the popcorn had dwindled to the impossibly hard kernels at the bottom of the box and the question of " Do I pee now or wait until the end " had crossed my mind at least twice , I realised that it was all dragging on again . A few more implausibilities reared their ugly heads , don't want to spoil it for you in case you go see it , which made the whole plot silly . And that's my next problem with theatre , you have to condense the whole shebang into a one hit wonder that lasts long enough to warrant the price of a ticket , divides neatly into two halves but doesn't induce bum-numbing anticipation of a G&T at half time. I'm such a philistine but I can't help it .
There was a lot of shouting again at the end and then the denouement where everyone sort of did or didn't live slightly happily ever after and everyone realised that the chair couldn't be a chair because it was a toothbrush and maybe it did have a brain after all.
As we tipped onto the pavement afterwards , I realised I didn't have that lovely life-changing feeling that you get from a good film, even it it does only last for the journey home. At least they don't have to shout all the time in films to be heard and providing it isn't a sequel or a prequel or whatever they call them these days , involves no CGI and isn't made in Hollywood , then give me a well scripted film , (preferably without box office banking celebrities ) any day. There we go - my Philistine qualities rising to the surface again.
On the bonus side at least there was no singing . Don't start me on musicals . If I were ever captured by the enemy, roped to a seat in front of a musical , I would confess everything and shop my own granny if I had one. And did youngest son enjoy it ? Well, I had to explain the philosophy versus psychology debate to him but bless him , he loved the popcorn.