Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Theater and Walking

Well, at the end of my last post I noted that we were headed to a play. Since then I've seen three, and I've come to the conclusion that I'm a philistine.

The first one we saw was "The Thirty-Nine Steps," a comedy based on a play that Hitchcock also used for one of his lesser-known films. There was a cast of four, and with the notable exception of the main character (Hitchcock's typical "ordinary man caught up in a web of deceit") each actor played multiple roles. The set was spare, the effects were limited to a couple of gunshots and some strobe lights, and it was really, really enjoyable. It was very funny, unpretentious, and just a lot of fun.

The second play, one we got last-minute half-price tickets for, was "Jersey Boys." I think I missed the opportunity to see that one in the states, partly because I couldn't really remember what Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons sang. (You neither? Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, Walk Like a Man, Working My Way Back to You, Can't Take My Eyes Off of You.) The rule about music, which I totally forgot, is that it is So Much Better live. The story was predictable, and not just because we know that Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons aren't still playing Vegas. It's predictable in that musical biopic kind of way, where the band breaks up (dude, the Yoko factor ain't just for the Beatles) and people are Unwise on the road where drugs and sex are at their beck and call. We've seen it all before. Who cares? The music is hot.

Now the one from tonight? Half price and thank goodness. It's called A Little Night Music, and it's dull, dull, dull. I cared about some of the characters a little. But not enough to sit through what had to be at least two and a half hours of poorly-strung-together music, including (no, I'm not kidding) "Send In The Clowns." I'm sorry, but there's a rule. If you use "Send In The Clowns" and there is no irony anywhere on the stage, then you're taking yourself Far Too Seriously. There had better be some Serious Drama and it had better be good. There wasn't. I felt bad for the cast, who all had great voices and who tried hard to sell the cobbled-together story (it involved a lot of adultery, and I can't be bothered with summarizing it), but I felt worse for myself.

The best that could be said for the play was that I got to sit down. I walked all day today (at the British National Gallery, which for some reason isn't my favorite museum, and at the National Portrait Gallery, which rocks, but which seems to have been rearranged to make everything further away--maybe just because I was tired). I did defray the effects of all the walking with a glass of wine, but I was still mighty glad to sit down for 2.5 hours, even if it involved listening to "Send In The Clowns."

So what about it, imaginary readers? Is it so wrong that I heard this song and thought to myself, "You know, Krusty could really liven up this moment"? It is, isn't it? Oh, well. I guess I'll turn in my membership card to the snooty intellectuals club. Oh, wait, they took that back years ago. In fact, I think they have my picture up behind the bar with a sign that says, "Notify security immediately."

Shit. Guess I'll just have to have a little more fun.

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