Invitation to a Beheading, Theatre Collection/Lord Stanley 23 January


Cincinnatus (LH convict) and some clowns annoying him--picture from Theatre Collection Facebook page

After an impossible day at work something unpleasant and incomprehensible seemed just the job.  But this must be the least dramatic text ever to be staged in the legitimate theatre, though you do get this kind of thing when a composer decides to do without a librettist and set his own worthy maunderings to music in the belief they will become an opera.

As I understand it, our hero Cincinnatus has been condemned for the crime of being real in a land where everyone has to be the same.  Some Zamyatin-style anti-Soviet satire there.  Representatives of superficial vulgarity afflict him and try to drag him into their world–but he resists, shuts them out and at the end there’s a modest coup de theatre unfortunately heralded by the director having to tell the cast to turn the stage lights off.

As a piece of theatre, there are far too many entrances and exits and short scenes that fail to make their point.  Of course it’s not in any way a naturalistic depiction of life in the condemned cell, but the way the audience rigidly returned to their chosen locations after the interval as though that would ward off misfortune would have been more like it.

Actually, I wouldn’t mind going some other time and seeing what this company makes of a play.

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