The Dumbness of Crowds - Day 2
Saw the shockingly good ‘Blackwatch’ last year in Edinburgh and so was looking forward to another National Theatre of Scotland production. The idea of exposing a conference on climate change to reflect the world’s procrastination and duplicity is excellent. This was the spine of a good idea wrecked by a suspect method of collective creation. Actors need WRITERS!
The co-ordinator Valentina was warbling away as the audience drifted in. This was, at times, quite amusing, but of you blur the start of a performance, you have to work hard to get people’s attention when it kicks off, and the opening number was awful. The mad Mayor shouting about the future - ‘will it suit yer…it could shoot yer’. Bogside City was the setting for a bog standard performance.
The script and execution were, at times, banal. The cheesy musical-drama format seemed trivial because it was trivial. It just didn’t hang together. The ventriloquist sequences were excruciating. The Mayor’s back of stage interactions with his electorate were phoney. Some of the actors were well below par and the writing at times seemed amateurish, even childish. The only high spots were the South American dance sequences and her song about ‘bastards’. A sure sign of disappointment was the fact that the audience noticeably thinned out after the interval.
Comedy has to be finely blended with tragedy if serious political messages are to be tackled in depth. This was a bad cocktail of mostly light-hearted, sometimes trivial comedy, with little in the way of tragic contrast. For example, “My wife went on holiday last year. Where to? Jamaica. No she went of her own accord”. Substitute Jakarta, Alaska, Genoa, Hungary. It was that basic.