Lovely lovely lovely lovely day. I knew it would be, of course. I love a day trotting round London seeing great stuff, and now that I live closer I can squeeze more in. I started with Rain Room at the Barbican, by Random International, which had the nasty surprise of a SECOND queue after the first bloody queue, but which was loud enough to drown out any impatient voices inside my head. I expected the best thing about it to be standing bone dry in the middle of a thunderstorm, but the actual best bit was definitely the almighty fucking racket that it made. I really wanted to do some shouting but I’m too middle-class for that. (NB: I didn’t end up staying dry because I was dicking about round the edges trying to outwit the sensors and got a face-full of cold water. I expect it served me right.)
Next up was Beautiful Burnout by NTS and Frantic Assembly, which is a show I’ve wanted to see for ages (a couple of years?) so I was mega-excited when they released extra tickets for this run just last week, although NEVER LET YOURSELF FORGET that a last-minute Wednesday matinee undoubtedly means TEENAGERS. They only managed to ruin the first five minutes and then THE MOST MOVING PART OF THE WHOLE SHOW though, so I guess theatre won in the end. Beautiful Burnout was great. It’s won design plaudits and the boxing sequences were dynamic as fuck (it’s more like Danny Boyle than Danny Boyle is these days) but it was Bryony Lavery’s script that made it. I’ve never not cried at one of her shows. (OH GOD DO YOU REMEMBER KURSK?! *dies of sobbing*)
After that I got the tube back into central London and went to the Tate Modern to catch Tino Sehgal’s Turbine Hall thing, which was only tagged onto today when I realised I’d have a couple of hours free and a budget of ZERO POUNDS with which to fill them.
INCREDIBLE, LIFE-AFFIRMING, OVERWHELMING, HEART-BURSTING AMAZINGNESS. If anything, these words aren’t strong enough. There is no emoticon I can enter here to do it justice. I was so unprepared for the way it would make me feel. I can’t even bring myself to do my usual double-thumbs-up cliché and say I have a “MASSIVE TINO SEHGAL BONER RIGHT NOW” because that somehow cheapens (can’t think how) what I experienced.
I’m going to try not to spoil this too much with details because YOU HAVE TO GO (I’m going to ban you from this blog if you don’t and don’t think I won’t find out if you lie to me) but, basically, when I first arrived the performers were kind of darting around like starlings. After a while they’d enveloped me where I was standing and started to slow down. One man came and spoke to me. After a while they moved a bit more, forming groups and changing speeds and just the sight of them flocking was mesmerising. They came together in a kind-of religious chant and the lights flickered and I spent what could have been anywhere between 5 and 25 minutes talking to another guy about sexuality and friendship and they swirled around me some more and I spoke to someone else about racism and they moved around a bit and I moved around a bit and another performer told me about being reminded to face the world with both eyes open and there was some more singing and whispering and… it was just WONDERFUL. Eventually the gallery was kicking out and the last performer I spoke to walked me up the ramp and out of the door and it was as if I’d just been to some new-age therapy session that had given me this incredible epiphany about how I interact with EVERYTHING.
I was beaming like Yuri fucking Gagarin while I walked over the bridge to get the tube, thinking about how I’m going to start ENCOUNTERING things more when all of a sudden my mate Amy from Leicester fucking APPEARS like she’d been BEAMED DOWN FROM THE ART WORLD and then when I’d left her I saw these teenage skaters comforting a mate that’d skid his balls across his griptape or something and the whole world was a happier place. Seriously. GO TO THE TINO SEHGAL THING. It’s only on until the end of the month. It’s twenty past midnight right now so you could book a train ticket online now and get up and go straight there in the morning. Other stuff can totally wait.
So I kind of floated to the Soho for I Heart Peterborough by Joel Horwood and it took me until the first ten mins or so to recalibrate myself with the narrative. One boy grows up gay in a town that’s changing around him, and his accidental son grows up with (I think) Asperger’s (Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional) and the two gradually work out how to live their lives and live together and live in Peterborough, with all its boredom and unhappy endings. The power of this show wasn’t in its big overaching solutions to life’s ultimate questions maaaaaan, but in the details that grounded it in these two very particular human lives. Two very different members of Peterborough’s disenchanted. One who lip-synced at a LoveFilm office party and another who bit into a pig’s heart. It was funny and sad and very very well written. After the show I tracked Joel Horwood down, bulldozed the conversation he was having and gave him a curly-wurly from my rucksack (NOT a euphemism), for I now live a life filled with ENCOUNTERS.
Shows I have missed recently because I am entering the (hopefully) final stages of uni-related meltdown:
Audience (Ontoenderenderndrend Goed)
The Table (something to do with puppets)
Lovesong (dancing about bereavement - looked lovely)
42nd Street (everyone said it was mint)
PLS SEND HALP
Edit, 23.25: You can scratch Lovesong off that list. I got so pissed off with everything when I posted it at breakfast time that I said FUCK YOU THE MAN and got on a train after my lecture. Despite their excellent programming, I’m beginning to develop a grudge against the Lyric Hammersmith. I mean, if you’re going to make a big thing about moving your listed theatre, brick by brick, at least make sure there isn’t brass shit or fucking coppicing in every bloody sightline.
I think I may be a bit bad-tempered still.
Lovesong was worth the trip down though, and the late night. It was your standard barren-couple-grow-old-together stuff, but was very nicely done. Kind of gentle. It was a gentle play. Which is probably a good thing. What was that 50s film that heralded the ‘teenage revolution’ and made people rip up theatre seats? If I’d seen anything like that I might well be RAMPAGING atm. As it stands, I’m on a train, getting a bit sleepy. See that? THEATRE = GOOD FOR SOCIETY. We’re all saved.