Archive for November, 2012

One Hour Eighteen Minutes, New Diorama Theatre 17 November

November 18, 2012


A picture I swiped from Twitter

This is a documentary play about the case of Sergei Magnitsky; the title refers to a mysterious period shortly before his prison death, either from pancreatitis or from a severe beating.

In fact the play lasted an hour.

The problem was that it didn’t work as a play:  there were very many short scenes aimed at establishing factual points, and the fact that Magnitsky never appeared on stage meant that dramatic conflict was never developed.  The traditional Russian approach of leaving troublemakers in gaol until they either rot or become harmless some other way might have shocked the uninformed, but would they have been interested in the play anyway?  Of course a production in Russia where performers and audience would be worrying what would be going to happen to them would be a different matter…

The set was very effective, and Alan Francis did a good turn as Magnitsky’s colleague and shamblingly charismatic surrogate.  All of the video projection technology worked.  Free books from the Glas backlist were on display outside for you to take away.

Lot and his God, The Print Room 3 November

November 4, 2012


Rarely have I been so completely baffled.

This seemed to be The End of the Affair rammed into the Genesis story of Lot and losing its significance as a result.  So we have an angel (Mr Drogheda), Lot and Lot’s wife in a dingy cafe and the angel wants to persuade them to leave–wants to persuade Lot’s wife to leave with him, since he is in love with her.  So we get lots of the kind of dialogue we would expect in such a situation, which doesn’t seem to fit into the Biblical setting very well.  In fact, at one stage the blinded waiter flailing helplessly on the floor seemed be representing the struggles of the text itself.

The authors of the Old Testament may have been dead wrong about the existence of God, the origin of the universe, and a few hundred other things, but they certainly understood what to leave out.

You can’t say that Howard Barker was ignoring the Bible story here, since he did have the angel blind (and strike dumb) the waiters in the cafe.  On the other hand, whatever the issues in Lot’s marriage might have been, they don’t seem to include him offering up his daughters to be raped in place of the angels, since Mrs L. never mentions it.  I think we were supposed to be surprised at the angel Mr Drogheda as a corporeal and carnal being, but on the one hand an angel in the OT is just a messenger and can as far as I know be an ordinary mortal and on the other a spiritual being would hardly need saving from the Sodomites.

But Lot is meant to be merely a sojourner and Abraham’s nephew, not a real Sodomite at all…The more I try to think about this, the more confused I get.

The sleazy cafe set was effective and good, while neither Justin Avoth (Mr Drogheda) nor Vincent Enderby (waiter) fluffed any of their lines.

The thing that really frightens me is that in an ill-advised transliteration Avoth could be the Hebrew word for the Biblical patriarchs, including Lot’s uncle Abraham.