02 May 2005

Tales From The Riverbank

To begin at the end, bumped into Tassos on the late bus home on Saturday. I was with B, he was with a friend. T has a role in Shunt's Tropicana but can't say what it is. I suspect he's a plant who does something unsavoury. You could see a naughty glint in his eye. Glyn's doing that part on occasion (there's a rota) and he also had a naughty glint when he told me he couldn't possibly tell me anything. I shall have to go to find out, clearly. (please don't tell me!)
B and I had been to the show at the Chocolate Factory, the last in Paines Plough's This Other England season. It's a play by Douglas Maxwell called If Destroyed True. I won't link to the enthusiastic review in The Times because it's a precis rather than a piece of criticism. Anyway I absolutely loved it, and so did B. Stage poetry of the most exquisite, least pretentious kind. Heart-on-sleeve stuff. Brilliant emotional rhythm to it. DM is the real deal.
Yes, the wife and I went out together! Our tyke spent the night with grandparents for the first time. He was cool about it, no fuss. We felt an odd mix of guilt and elation, if you can imagine such a thing. Pleasurably bereft.
If Destroyed True is set in New Flood, a (hopefully) fictional place that gets voted Worst Town in Scotland. I was reminded that I grew up in a borough once calculated (in the late 80s I think) to be the poorest in Europe, when compared to GDP of the country it was in. The borough is Knowsley, east of Liverpool, and so contains most of the post-war urban sprawl. I don't know exactly how it's doing now in the poverty stakes. I'll look it up. My sister still lives there with her boy. Not for much longer, with any luck.
Before I met up with B, I was at Tate Modern, luxuriating in my brand spanking renewed membership. Very pleased that the members' room hasn't changed. Bumped into very nice radio producer Pam and her nice friend. I babbled too much to them, like I tend to when bumped into. I tried to take in some of the Joseph Beuys in the short time I had, but the attendants were so distracting, so boorish and looming in their unselfconscious studenty way, I couldn't concentrate for a second. I pointed this out to one boy, politely, prefacing my words with, "This really is nothing personal..." but he was so shocked I thought he was going to cry, and I felt horrible. I've only once in my life ever written a complaint letter, and that was to the Tate way back when they had a big Rothko exhibition, which featured, the day I went, attendants calling and responding to each other the length of the galleries. God knows it's a boring job, but if theatre ushers behaved like this they'd be lynched.
And before the weird Tate adventure I was at Southwark again, for the matinee. I was able to catch the second half of Bells by Yasmin Whittaker Khan. Saw the first half on Wednesday. It's in a double bill of work by British Asian women presented by Kali TC. It's a promising and vibrant debut by YWK. Challenges some lazier assumptions about Asian life in this country, but also manages to be wildly romantic.
So that was Saturday. Oh and I went for a run in the morning! I'm very unfit, muscles (all 3 of them) still aching.


Anonymous said...

odd. went to see idt. wanted to like it, but couldn't connect at all. every time i started to get involved, time changed or place changed or there was more narration. and the moving about was distracting - it was easier when i shut my eyes. maybe it would've been clearer on radio? maybe i am just too stupid?

sbs said...

not stupid, anon. or if you are, we all are. most of the populace would think we are, spending an evening in a converted chocolate factory watching a bunch of people pretending, and doing silly dances...
i think i agree about the moving about too much. John Tiffany's directed it with class, the relationships were clear, but sometimes the music of the writing cried out for more stillness.
but this is it about theatre, isn't it... declamatory, leaden stuff will be the same night after night, but a piece like IDT needs to generate its own atmosphere early on for it to breathe and flourish. if it doesn't,
for all the myriad possible reasons, flatness ensues and there's that ghastly domino effect where, against their will, one by one audience and performers tune out. shudder.