As you’ll know if you’ve read this blog more than a couple of times in the past, I value immediacy when it comes to having critical opinions. Contemplation generally reduces the importance of the sensory, visceral reactions that I think are the real test of a work. Some things just stick with you though, and some come to you via all sorts of media.
I recently came across a great quote from Tassos Stevens, who says: “The experience of an event begins for its audience when they first hear about it and only finishes when they stop thinking and talking about it.”
If this was a uni assessment, I would now make a fancy flowchart of my experience of Make Better Please by Uninvited Guests and Lewis Gibson. It started with Laura McDermott from Fierce telling me how cool it was when I first had a meeting with her about me working with them, back in November I think. Then my old boss saw it in Liverpool and gave me a scene-by-scene deconstruction, laughing the whole way through about how shit it was. Then I went over to Birmingham for Fierce and stayed with someone who worked on the show. We talked more about the complications of getting it into its Brum venue than any creative aspect. Then, the night I was in the audience, I’d also had to do the box office so ran in to take my seat at the very last second.
Of course, because I’d heard about the show in great detail already, I was pretty excited to get to the bit with the giant strap-on newspaper penis because it’s a GIANT STRAP-ON NEWSPAPER PENIS. I liked the fact that I got to share my opinion in the show because I’m an attention-seeking narcissist and am pre-disposed to like everything in which I play a part. I liked it whenever we got a chance to speak and I liked it when the tall guy did his juddering naked dance and strapped on the GIANT NEWSPAPER PENIS. I liked the smoke and flashing lights and shit. It was loud and fun and I felt stimulated and involved. But mostly it was fucking HILARIOUS and I was very aware that I wasn’t really supposed to be finding it funny. Much like everything in my life really.
So then the show was over and I talked to Jane and Ben about it (the friends I was staying with during Fierce - Ben was the lighting designer on the show, and on Cupid by Subject to Change too, which I’ve already told you was incredible), and I went back to run the box office for a second night and talked to the Fierce volunteers about it. Then Make Better Please was about to open at BAC at I saw a glut of tweets from people who had loved it so much that they IMPLORED their followers to buy a ticket SO HELP THEM GOD etc etc. And today I read Lyn Gardner’s Guardian review which wasn’t very positive at all.
And what I really want to do is go and watch it again. To kind of test my own abilities as an audience member. I would love to be able to really get into the spirit of the dick-swinging exorcism without pissing myself throughout, and I would genuinely love the opportunity to try running round screaming with the cast a bit too. (I also quite fancied the stage manager but was too knackered to do anything about it in Birmingham, although that’s another story.) It’s been a long time since a show has inspired such conflicted feelings in me, and warranted such extended consideration. If they do a DVD I guess I could try fast-forwarding through the penis bit just to see if I can do the rest of it without laughing. I wish I could just be fucking SERIOUS for five minutes.