Monday, 18 May 2009


16/5/09, Menier

2 hrs 10 mins. The "classic" Ben Travers farce from 1929 heroically revived and played at a terrific pelt. We were a lousy audience: the funny lines and the wordplay mostly went straight past us; we only laughed at the pratfalls. But in our defence as an audience I should say it showed its age. It's a pretty dull and dated piece of work.

We went with A and d, and when I said to A I thought it dated he reminded me of the prevailing mores in 1920s Britain, where the idea of a newly-married man in a cottage with a scantily-clad young woman would have been far, far more shocking than it is today. Even so...

Frace works by subverting conventions or a set of values or a system of approved behaviour that everyone accepts and signs up to, or at least understands and sympathises with. When everyone doesn't sign up, can it still work?

Noises Off, one of the funniest farces ever written, works because it subverts the conventions of naturalistic theatre, which we can all accept. When the conventions are the sexual morality of the 1920s you have a problem.

It was a bit like watching Restoration Comedy, requiring a more than usual suspension of disbelief. You understand why it might be funny, without actually being moved to laughter yourself. The genuine laughs came from those pratfalls and from things not in the text, like knowing, arch performances.

The Telegraph enjoyed it (surprise!):

The Indie agreed with me:

No comments:

Post a Comment