The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Ooh La La


Last two theatrical trips...

Toby Hadoke’s Now I Know My BBC. A preview of his Edinburgh show, and as it’s a work-in-progress, it feels premature to review it. But I think it’ll do well, and it's an extremely timely show, given that the BBC is becoming ever more endangered due to a combination of politically-motivated vandalism, its management capitulating to attacks from commercial rivals, and some profligate building projects. I mean, I support the BBC, and everything it stands for, but it’s a worrying indictment of its recent past that when people on Twitter are listing their favourite BBC programmes as a reason for supporting it, they tend to list shows from over ten years ago; the BBC of Dennis Potter plays, of Grange Hill, of Top Of The Pops and The Two Ronnies. And sadly not so much the current BBC, despite the fact that with shows like Miranda, That Mitchell & Webb Look, Mongrels, The Old Guys and Rev it’s enjoying a bit of a comedy renaissance. (Anyway, I've digressed, it'll be a great show, if you loved Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf you'll love this too, check it out.)

Speaking of comedy and French words, the other theatrical trip was to the Brockley Jack Theatre to see a couple of Feydeau plays, Madame’s Late Mother and A House Bath. Feydeau is, as I’m sure you don’t need telling, best known for intricately-plotted farces, and I’ll just get the obligatory mention of Fawlty Towers out of the way here, but yes, like that but more so. The two plays are one-act affairs, simplistic by Feydeau standards, both effectively one-off sitcom episodes – a married couple are disturbed in the night by a messenger informing them of the death of the wife’s mother, and a married couple have a bath drawn and then turn off the lights.

Of the two, the second was stronger – more energy, more movement – even though the first was the strongest script. The performances were decent, but hampered by an inexplicable decision to play some parts with French accents, which rather got in the way of the characters, the situation and the dialogue. Plus the translation was bumpy in places, a bit Google Translate, with some lines stilted and formal. It would work so much better if every ‘Ooh la la!’ was a ‘Bloody hell!’ Still, it was a treat to see these two plays, and I’ll be interested to see more from Echange or Exchange theatre and if they will ever decide how to spell their own name.

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