A Cloud in Trousers Wilton’s Music Hall, 30 September


A picture of Mayakovsky

A picture of Mayakovsky

Well,  this certainly managed to irritate me.  First of all we had some quite nice music on violin and piano and reasonably respectable number of people came into the auditorium from the bar, but most stayed there.

Then Samantha Bloom read a letter (possibly a confection of several letters) from Lili Brik to Mayakovsky.  Then she went off and got changed (music and scene change) and came back on en travesti to perform extracts from Mayakovsky’s poems about dysfunctional love from a masculine point of view.

But why was she so genteel in her diction?  Mayakovsky described himself and tried to act as a hooligan, though he didn’t always succeed.

If you want

I will be irreproachably gentle,

Not a man, but a cloud in trousers!

Well, quite, but that’s not where we’re starting from–in fact it’s the potential of a strenuous self-abnegatory miracle–and there is a reason why the lines are broken up like that, so one shouldn’t just flow over them.

I also quite often couldn’t hear what she was saying, which rather spoils the point of poetry.  I spent what seemed like several ages contained within one hour wishing it had ended or I was elsewhere,

The boat of love broke up on the grind of everyday life.

Oh dear!

But soon after it was the end–the actress went off, came on, took a bow, ushered forward the musicians.  Some people sat in their seats waiting for more, thinking perhaps that £ 10 for 55 minutes of one performer was rather short measure, but I was off, down the street, on my way home.

P.S.  Mayakovsky was not in any sense ‘a Georgian poet’ as claimed in the programme–although it seems that Stalin was…

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