Saturday, 22 September 2012

Review Spectacular.

Given the high quality of the piece of theatre I saw last night at Taunton's Brewhouse I sort of feel obliged to write a piece singing its praises, or at least I feel I should write a post about something less angry and including less analogies featuring kittens and sledgehammers. Or something like that anyway.
Anyway, what I did see last night at the Brewhouse on the 21st was an excellent play (if one could call it that) called 'Monkey Bars' by Chris Goode. This is another sterling piece of work from the bewilderingly imaginative mind that brought the charmingly bizarre 'Wound Man & Shirley' to the stage earlier this year. Simply put, Goode interviewed a number of children aged from eight to ten about their lives, thoughts, dreams and fears, and then transferred these words verbatim into the mouths of adult actors, meaning you get the sublime ridiculousness of a conversation topic such as "What would you do if you were sort of a bubble-gum monster?" transplanted into the situation of adults acting this out as if it was a deathly serious job interview.
But please don't think this show is just a load of twee transcripts, it's far deeper than that. You get conversations on the pointlessness of war, of feelings of isolation from your family members, of everyday fears and neuroses that we all face. And one feels slightly guilty because you take these problems being addressed far more seriously because they are being spoken through the mouth of an adult, not a child. This play makes you address the fact that being young isn't all just about playing wildly in the schoolyard and being irritatingly immature sometimes, it shows that young and old aren't too distanced from each other after all (especially in the case of the two old-before-their-time boys who lament the state of 'our generation' in portentous tones, their tongues wagging at those 'two months younger' than them.)
This play is full of the wide-eyed idealism and child-like whimsy which we should possess, and while you laugh (and believe me I did this a lot) you end thinking how only a few degrees to the right or left these conversations  would need to be shifted to be seen as an 'adult' conversation. I highly recommend it overall and you are a ridiculous excuse for humanity if you do not see it.
Anyway, moving onto to review something a bit closer to my heart now, Doctor Who. Given my feelings surrounding the past two series of the show featuring everyones favourite Timelord, I commenced the viewing of this new series with a heavy heart, but slap me on the buttocks and call me Mildred, I'm actually really enjoying it. While no-ones favourite Scottish harridan and her husband, the albino haunted tree still ghost the screen with their presence, thankfully I detected a slight shift away from their interminably boring domestic antics and more a leaning towards fun adventures with Daleks and bad guys and whatnot. The first episode Asylum of the Daleks pleased me greatly, partly because it restored my hope in the series where the recent Christmas special had broken it down so very,very much, partly because it showed that the recent controversial redesign of the Daleks didn't apply to all them, and finally because it featured an unexpected 'teaser' performance if you will, from new companion Jenna Louise Colman, playing Oswin here, a marooned survivor on the asylum planet of the Daleks, where the Doctor and his companions are sent to blow shit up and have shenanigans and whatnot. At least I think that's what happened, I was too happy to see a 'blink and you'll miss it' cameo from the Special Weapons Dalek. But anyway Coleman's performance made me a happy Whovian, because for one she provides a much greater acting range than Karen Gillan who can either be set into 'angry' or 'petulant' mode. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and a Town Called Mercy are also highly reccomended, especially the latter which controversially examines the Doctors relationship with violence and forgiveness. It actually did make me very uncomfortable at a certain point (and you'll know which one if you've seen it) but thankfully it made the story better who having explored this facet of the Doctors personality, rather than just deliver us down a narrative cul-de-sac which has been done recently. A Town Called Mercy is also wonderful purely because of the amount of fun being had on screen, you could tell they had a ball making this. With such plot aspects as a dusty frontier Wild West town on the edge of nowhere and a vengeful cyborg bent on murder how could they not?