The tricky disclaimer
I have to first declare my physical challenge with this night in the theatre, one of my favourites, and not previously the purveyor of spasming pain in my right knee. However, tonight the cramped legroom of Traverse 1 caused me such physical discomfort that I was counting the minutes till the end.
It was probably me, but the seating didn’t help.
The common gripe
This is the second Kieran Hurley show I’ve seen. Square Go by Paines Plough, like this, started brilliantly but seemed to run out of steam. This less so, but it was a game of two halves for me. The first pain-free, the secondly most certainly not.
The difficult narrator issue.
Narrated plays when the performers talk about what they are up to as they do it is not my cuppa, I’m afraid.
The describing of structure as the structure unfolds in episodic real time.
The holding of mirrors up to middle class audiences technique.
Herein lies my real problem with this production.
The performances by Shauna Macdonald and Angus Taylor are both very good and the story is engaging, but it’s about working class (underclass) strife meeting middle class privilege – a bit Pygmalianesque, but trying very, very hard not to be.
This whole ‘theatre-holding-a-mirror-up-to-its audience’ schtick, as we look in on how others live (it happens a lot in black theatre, queer theatre and class theatre) is starting to tire me out.
In this, Hurley intermingles the fortunes of a deprived teenager with a failed but privileged early-middle-aged writer, but in such a way that life starts to imitate art, become art, debunk art and eventually question art to such an extent that I started to run out of emotional connection.
Hurley does his best to take the whole ‘Rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain’ cliche and subvert it, so that Mrs Higgins rapidly descends from hero to villain and Master Doolittle morphs from victim to hero to victim to hero so much that I began to wonder if I was really all that bothered any more. Or maybe it was the knee.
The site-specific thing
If you haven’t seen it you won’t get this reference., But it is very clever. I liked that.
The Martin Creed references.
You know what, I’m moaning a bit here. This was a good production. I’m just a grippy bastard sometimes and it had too many flaws for me.
But, at the end of the day…Everything’s going to be all right.