ARTYFACTS: Day 12 - An Oak Tree

Friday, May 19, 2006

Day 12 - An Oak Tree

Tim Crouch, both writer and actor, looks like Al Murray the Pub Landlord, and has a delivery that is just as mannered. The idea is clever, too clever, as we move through layers of reality with Tim directing another actor, who doesn’t know the lines and has never read the play. The problem is that moving from one layer to another breaks any suspension of disbelief so that you are constantly an observer of the mechanics of the script and not involved in the performance. OK you’ve got to try these things to see if they’ll work, but Tim needs one of those friends who say, “sorry mate, this ain't working”. The other actor, a woman, had to play a man called Andy, introducing yet another useless complication. The net result was no more interesting than a scripted game of snakes and ladders. It was all brain and no heart.

All of these crude mechanics didn’t make me think, only ponder on the fact that I was missing the European Cup Final. If this is how far theatre has fallen it is no surprise that audiences are staying away and that the West End and Broadway have defaulted down to endless runs of musicals. He was fluffing his lines, completely unconvincing as a pub hypnotist and was left with nothing but an attempt to tell us how clever he was. Don’t tell us, show us.

Three people walked out early, deciding they had better things to do with their time, and a couple in front of us got the giggles, which they had to suppress, making their ribs ache with pain. They held on until it passed, but only just. The taxi driver told us that Arsenal were one nil up despite their goalkeeper being sent off. Barcelona scored in the final few minutes, then again just before full time – now that’s drama.

1 star


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