25 June 2005

Theatre of Blood

O how I loved it. Thank you, Improbable.

B and I very nearly missed the first half. Buses were slow, no taxis to be had (we nearly got the one Ben Kingsley just vacated outside Sadler's Wells, but weren't quick enough...).

We made it, just. As the house lights went down, and the thunder and lightning kicked off the evening's Gothic horrors, we were clashing knees with the punters in row B of the stalls, wading toward our seats.

Live poodles minced and baked in a pie.

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Ghastly bouffanted lady critic fried under the hairdryer, till she was a smoking skull - don't know how they did it.

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Bibulous critic (looked a bit like a tall Billington) drowned in a malmsey-butt (wine casket) - again, don't know how they did it. Blood a gogo. Hilarious hair-dos. Fantastic one-liners. A great nostalgic kick to it - my best childhood tv memories combined and lovingly represented.
I had a portable tv in my room from age 16, and delighted in watching late night horror flicks, especially the British ones from the 70s, the fruity acting and heaving bosoms (I was at an all-boys school and knew, let me see, three, four, five... no girls, apart from the ones I saw at Mass). Theatre of Blood was a favourite before I'd even set foot in a theatre (panto excepted, which was of course itself not a million miles from the Hammer House of Horror style). And then there was the effortless, swaggery vaudeville of Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies... The latter did a serial sketch - Phantom Raspberry Blower, was it? - that had a nasty edge to it, murderous camp, and this elided nicely in the imagination with the Hammer films to form a kind of genre, Comedy of Cruelty and Surrealism. And all these years later here it is again, come alive in Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson's exceptionally witty and deft adaptation of the Vincent Price schlock horror movie, T of B.

I'm not being very coherent I know, but it's late. I went to a press night, The Laramie Project, of which more tomorrow. It was at a new venue in Soho and the bar afterwards was very very loud, but the people at my table were lovely, and the canapes were tasty, so I couldn't bring myself to leave.

Couple more things though, about T of B - the cast were perfect, they were having a ball, they're incredibly skilful - there's a lot of choreographed violence, coups de theatre, quick changes etc, and it's all accomplished and swift. Jim Broadbent in the lead is extraordinary - it's a sustained piece of technical brilliance for him to act badly for two hours! Rachael Stirling is fabulously glamorous and eerie, just like her mother was in the film (and, of course, she looks eerily like her mother did in the film...) and all the critics were sublimely funny, but special mentions to Hayley Carmichael, who plays the redheaded bluestocking who ends up skewered like a kebab, and to Mark Lockyer, who as polo-necked young buck Peter Devlin almost makes you believe that theatre criticism is a noble calling. ML was in the Greek I did at the Gate, and it's always ace to see someone you've worked with get a smashing part like that.

As Oscar Wilde said, one should always be a little Improbable.

1 comment:

Ova Girl said...

great review sbs and nicely illustrated. I am loving the blogger picture system and looking forward to dumping hello or whatever the other one was called.