Thursday, August 22, 2013

Love The Theatre Offerings

Roundly rejected watching musicials at West End. It's really very difficult to convince me to watch one nowadays. I think I overdid it on the music Andrew Lloyd Webber during all those formative years when some people tried to educate me about music that doesn't come from Red House Painters, Metallica, Nirvana or Prodigy. But they forgot I was force-fed a diet of Bach, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. Urrrgh. I very much prefer plays over musicals any day. For various painful reasons, to date, I've watched three productions of The Phantom of the Opera in four cities for a total of ten times since 1990. I will never watch it again for any reason in the world. (Les Misérables is included is this never-list.) 

Hopped in and out of central London for a few evenings. Limited time to gorge on the plays at West End, Off-West End and little black boxes. And the dependable awesome Chipotle for bites pre and post shows. Managed to watch a few. Some were mehhh. Thought these three were quite a hoot.


The Hothouse :: Directed by Jamie Lloyd

Caught Harold Pinter's 'The Hothouse' just before it finished its run. Directed by Jamie Lloyd, it ran true to the intended interpretation. As always, the professional actors put on a sterling performance. Simon Russell Beale and John Simm were impressive.

Political dissidents undergoing painful corrective treatments. The morality lies somewhere between the structure of the state-sanctioned sanatorium and bureaucracy on the ground. Hailed as a "macabre tragicomedy", inmates either go mad or adapt to survive in that curious world that has been manifested out of corrupted minds and daily physical and mental abuse. Imagine all evils and conspiracy theories and you sit through an intense night that ends up slightly comedic rather than fully depressing.


Image from The Guardian.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time :: Directed by Marianne Elliott

Loved Mark Haddon's 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'. Had to watch the West End adaptation by Simon Stevens; directed by Marianne Elliott. There were many details in the book that held the reader's attention, but not all could be translated onto the stage. A gist could be captured, and it was left to the actors to bring out all those emotions and subtleties. The set design played a huge role in aiding the audience to understand the protagonist's pained and varied worlds.

I was rather fascinated with lead actor Luke Treadaway's eyebrows. Yes, his eyebrows. I didn't imagine the 15-year old protagonist Christopher Boone to have those expressive eyebrows, considering he doesn't quite like humans or understand their emotions, and prefers animals. Heh. Stunning portrayal of a gifted teenager with Asperger syndrome. But yes, whatever portrayed on stage, held no yellow, a color that the protagonist heartily dislikes. Heh.


Home :: Directed by Nadia Fall

Put together from 30 hours of interviews of the young homeless housed in a hostel in London's East End, the theme of the play is grim and almost bleak. It reflects the statistics that of homeless young people at a 2013 record high. Of course the news was aflutter with scenes of Ed Miliband being pelted with eggs thrown by a lone protester at a south London street market. The streets of London are filled with younger and younger people sleeping on the sidewalk in the nights, and food banks are seeing an increase in use.

The play also utilized hip and current, and original music to bring out what the young people think as they recount their experiences with violence, racism, drugs, family breakdowns, single mothers and the whole litany of categorized social problems. The individual testimonies are compelling. These plays always catch my attention. It's one way to  understand another part of the world. I'm reminded of how lucky how a portion of world's youth is. Our #firstworldproblems pale in comparison to their issues. The angst is similar, but the situations are vastly different. They might hold down stable jobs, but live in the hostel. These 'homeless' residents are supposed to move on after two years, but apparently, reality is, they can't save enough to rent a space after that. Yet, dreams don't fade, and those dreams are the only thing that keep them going.

On the other hand, it's good to also to look at the England's housing problem, or rather London's, mainly. And to think through and balance that against the soaring rents, property prices in the cities, and of course, compare it to erm home. Pardon the pun please. Couldn't help it. These lines from a rather stirring recent speech by my country's Prime Minister are ringing in my ears,

The values of homes has appreciated and even poor people are not poor by any international standard. If you take the lowest one-fifth of our households by income, the lowest one-fifth, 20 per cent of households, that means about 200,000 households; each household in this group, each poor household has on average $200,000 of net wealth in the HDB flat. 
(grammatical errors in the quote above aren't mine)


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