What I learned on Friday night:
1) Let memories be. The teachers at my school performed a version of Alan Ayckbourne’s The Norman Conquests which had us all rolling on the floor. I realize now that Mr Hills had skillfully distilled 6 hours of drama into one half-hour of riotous hilarity. And anything done by teachers is intrinsically funny.
2) Don’t be a martyr! Felt awful Friday evening – nervous exhaustion from a frazzled week at work and a straight week of insomnia took its toll. I arrived at Waterloo unable to focus on buying a sandwich at M&S. Eventually I enjoyed a pre-theatre snack of a mini-prawn cocktail dip and an oatmeal, banana and apple juice smoothy. Yum. However it did the trick and kept me together for the play.
3) There are very funny bits in the play, but also extremely discomforting bits. It left me depressed.
4) The acting was good, and the old Vic has cunningly turned itself into a theatre-in-the-round: at huge cost and inconvenience, I’m sure, and to such little effect. I’m not that convinced the round brings the actors any closer, and it’s annoying to cope with actors’ backs. In fact, this aspect spoils the play quite a lot because one is constantly aware of the director arranging the actors so that everyone has an equal chance to see their faces. So it’s not natural; it’s every bit as contrived as a proscenium and at least with a proscenium you can see all the action!
5) I’ve bought a season ticket to the full three plays in the trilogy. On the basis of Table Manners, I’m not sure I would have bothered with the others. The acting and production is perfectly ok, and the plays haven’t dated, really, at all (cf Peter Shaffer) – it’s just the bleakness of the playwright’s vision really that turns me off.
Round and Round the Garden
The Old Vic