1: Mission Drift by The TEAM, and how we need some way of distinguishing between standard - yawn - West End musical-musicals, and shows that use song to express those extremes of feeling that we just can’t communicate any other way. (It’s been a long time since a show blasted me so far off my feet. It was relentlessly, breathlessly brilliant.)
2: What “having fun” really means, and whether or not I’m having a bona fide pre-30 crisis. I’ve been going out a lot, and making some quite hilarious (read: not at all hilarious) decisions, so I think I’m going to try having a quiet July to test myself a bit. Life has changed for me a lot (again…) and I need to remember how I fit into adulthood. This isn’t an episode of Skins, but neither is it fucking Mumsnet-on-sea.
3: How amazing pineapple is.
4: How amazing popcorn is.
5: How I am the sort of person that responds to praise rather than money. I met some new people at a sort-of-work-event this week and someone told somebody else that they’d overheard a third person raving about me and my “incredible social skills”, which probably means they had mistaken me for another Meg entirely but still, it made me feel warm and fuzzy all day. When the revolution comes, I propose we all live on compliments. And pineapple.
Pastoral is one of those shows that is a kind of frivolous black comedy until the last ten minutes, when suddenly you find yourself weeping because we can’t all have the future we want and love doesn’t conquer all and sometimes bad things happen to good people.
It’s a clever show. Clever because of the gentle derision it aims at modern, corporate Britain: “I saw a vole coming out of Paperchase. It was strutting.”
Clever because its set does an awful lot with very little: flowers mounted on darts and dropped en masse from the ceiling, for example.
Clever because, like I say, it switches from being this enjoyable-enough dystopian comedy to being something much more important: about youth and frailty and selflessness and thwarted expectation; about hope and the absence of hope.
And, moreover, it’s clever because Power Of Love was cued up on a mobile phone and through the PA at the same time, and there was almost no lag.
People think I know about theatre but, trust me, I really don’t. It turns out that bit on TFI Friday with the floating mouth was based on a Beckett play called Not I. I saw Not I at the Royal Court tonight and it took 8 minutes and 41 seconds. A breakneck stream of consciousness, delivered at the speed of thought, and yet minutely determined by Beckett, who indicated the lengths of pauses with very particular numbers of dots. There was a complete blackout in the auditorium, and then these lips appeared, ticking and clucking and spluttering into life. It was INCREDIBLE.
Fuck knows what it was about. In the Q&A afterwards I asked how important it is that Not I is performed by a woman and everyone on the panel was like DURRR IT’S ABOUT REPRESSION at which point I was like OH YES OF COURSE when, to me, it had been about space and darkness and distance and rhythm.
Vicky Featherstone was chairing, and at one point she asked the audience if they’d felt that the mouth was moving. She indicated with her hands that she meant side to side on the stage but in my mind it was shifting by fucking LIGHT YEARS. It was a teeny weeny tiny little mouth, millimetres from my eyes, and then it was ten times bigger than the sun, but bajillions of millions of miles away.
I’m falling back in love with the arts this week. Estuary started it on Saturday, and Forced Ents have released a Quizoola video today, and OBVIOUSLY payday helps, but I feel so excited right now for all the beautiful stuff and how it makes my head tingle.
I would also like to note that I want Vicky Featherstone to be my big sister so I can go round to her flat and talk about my career and have her GET IT and she can introduce me to her cool (single, hot, male) friends and decant a sample of whatever expensive conditioner she uses and let me borrow her AWESOME GOLD ANKLE BOOTS. We would drink red wine and then go out dancing somewhere cool in East London and when we got chatting to people I would be like “THIS IS VICKY FUCKING FEATHERSTONE! SHE’S MY BIG SISTER YOU KNOW! … YES, WE DO LOOK ALIKE DON’T WE? WE GET THAT ALL THE TIME HA HA HA!! … LOOK AT THESE GOLD BOOTS!”
I haven’t read any fiction since last summer, and then this week I read Revolutionary Road. The plan had been to get stuck into my dissertation reading on my tube journeys but AS IF there is a place for Slavoj Zizek on the northern line at 8.30am. So I picked a paperback off the shelf on Monday morning and for the past seven days I’ve been living in 1950s Connecticut.
Well, actually, no. I haven’t been living Revolutionary Road, I’ve been living in a palpable sense of relief. Seriously. THANK FUCK my life is good right now, because reading this book when you’re in a difficult place must put you on suicide watch. Richard Yates’s writing is so wonderful, his characters so completely fraught with terror about their decisions, it doesn’t really matter that the decisions they have to make are different to mine. It just matters that they’re terrifying decisions. And each one can go a million different ways.
Everything I’ve seen this week - the show that we’ve been doing at work that I’ve already seen once before, then RomCom by Glen Neath and a piece of writing by Jess Latowicki at Forest Fringe on Friday, then tonight Mies Julie at Riverside Studios - everything has been watched through a veil of Revolutionary Road Relief. I’ve been so fucking grateful that I’ve not become a freedom fighter; not become complacent in a boring, easy, comfy relationship; not been shackled with an urgent need for pretty dresses and kitchen appliances; not been tied to a hometown that offers me nothing. At Mies Julie tonight I was so fucking grateful for my own life and my own directionless decision-making that I actually started the standing ovation. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. It was such a visceral, bleak, can’t-even-breathe performance that it was really tough. Just like reading Revolutionary Road has been this week. Like watching a slow-motion car-crash, constantly believing that there’s an opportunity to change the course of the story but then everything ultimately turning to shit anyway. I’ve been able to read Revolutionary Road in little bits, two or three chapters at a time, depending on how long I’ve had to wait for a Charing Cross train. Getting to my desk at 9.30am has felt like a welcome rest from an emotional battleground. I’ve been able to pause the car-crash to live my life, but the never has the car stopped crashing.
It’s a brilliant, exhausting, ordeal of a book. Totally recommended. Maybe wait a few days before attempting Mies Julie though. I feel like I need a whisky and a dark room.
I left a show in the interval this afternoon, which is something I haven’t done for years. It might have even been my first non-Shakespeare bail-out. Obviously, leaving halfway through means that I am not entitled to publicly tear strips off it. The second half might’ve been incredible. But it put me in a bad mood. My Saturdays are precious now, and it pisses me off that it took me 2 hours to travel across London for 50 minutes of shit. By the time I got home again I had ranted myself into a fury.
I had another show booked for this evening but, frankly, I just wanted to stomp around the house swearing about having my intelligence offended by drama school twats. If the theatre wasn’t a 15 minute walk away, that’s probably what I would’ve done.
So, Not Until We Are Lost by Ockham’s Razor. I tell you what, it calmed me right down. Sadly, I’ve come home with a bit of a crick in my neck, as aerial performances STILL don’t come with fully reclining dentist’s chairs, but it was a calming, graceful, playful, kinda twinkly experience. Most of the musical accompaniment came from a single harpist, but there was a choir dispersed through the audience too, so every now and again you’d just get this warm hum of a cappella vocals swirling around too. And there was a beautiful moment when all the performers climbed inside a perspex box and were joined by a single white moth which had fluttered towards the light. It was lovely. They were stalwart professionals of course, but everyone near me was whispering “Oooh look at that moth…”
My desire to stomp and swear has been, if not diffused, at least postponed for a while.
Everything I’d heard or read about Narrative before tonight had told me that it was a fragmented, thread-free collection of disjointed black comedy vignettes. I’d seen a picture of a man with a glove puppet, which gave me a horrific Avenue Q flashback, but if I’m honest with myself, I think that historically, the Royal Court has been rather lacking in glove puppets.
It’s interesting, that phrase. “If I’m honest.” “If I’m honest with myself.” Narrative isn’t a fragmented, thread-free collection of disjointed comedy vignettes. It’s an expertly-crafted story about misunderstandings. About lying to yourself. It’s a bit sketch comedy at times, a bit Mighty Boosh, a bit Brass Eye, with its talk of anuses and therapy, its superhero catchphrases and “I let him cumberbatch on my facade”, but every scene was just teeming with this awful, tragic breakdown of communication.. The best bit of the whole thing might well have been the dance of complete over-joyed BLEAKNESS performed when one character goes to an audition. Leaping, yelling desperation. I wanted to put the poor guy out of his misery. Like, with the edge of a shovel or something.
Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed Narrative so much tonight. My mood has been just the right shade of black. Last week I told a boy to go fuck himself, so obviously this week we’ve had to do the whole tiresome “Why can’t we be friends?” “Because I hate you for hurting me” thing. It struck me tonight, in Narrative, watching a man spit in his mate’s tea, and a girl accidentally-on-purpose murder her best friend, and another one call three different people her “soulmate”, that we’re all just making shit up all the time. Not lying, you understand, just fabricating realities for ourselves. Living protective fantasies. Trying to THINK things better.
I might get a glove puppet.
It doesn’t really matter that Lundahl and Seitl’s feels like a bit of fluff. It doesn’t really matter that it isn’t really about anything. It doesn’t really matter that the show they’re currently doing at the Steinway and Sons piano place on Marylebone Lane is basically the same show they made for Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 2011. They still make me feel all snuggly, like I’ve had a bath and drunk my Ovaltine and now Mummy is going to sing the bedtime song.
It’s just so simple and gentle and lovely. The blindfold can be a liberating thing. Somebody holds your hand while somebody else whispers sweet nothings in your headphones. You put your hand out and feel your way around an unseeable mirror while a stranger mimics your own movements by stroking your back. I would pay twice the ticket cost just for the back stroking.
The old man with the eyes is back, joined this time by an amazing concert pianist and, once your blindfold is removed, there are clever tricks of the light that make Steinway Hall grow and move and disappear. It’s lovely, fluffy nonsense. I want to do it every night at 10pm and have it finish with someone tucking me into bed and kissing my forehead.
I’ve seen a couple of things recently that haven’t really hit the spot with me. Ring at BAC made out like it was going to be scary and then wasn’t, Money The Gameshow was so gameshowy that the serious bits were lost. In hindsight, even Port only made me warm and fuzzy because of its geography. I had started to worry that I was hitting one of those yeah whatevs phases of my career as an audience member, where nothing gets me off for a few months.
And then today I saw Mydidae.
It’s a proper drama about serious things performed in a tiny room with real nakedness. I’m pretty certain there was some fake wee but other than that it was all REAL and LIVE and CLOSE and IMPORTANT. And I was absolutely spellbound. It’s so easy to forget, when you’re as fickle and sensationalist as I am, that all you really need is a wonderful script and some incredible actors. Mydidae had all of that, even before anyone took their clothes off. Two people and one relationship and all the history and closeness and pain that lives in it. It was an hour and a quarter of the most compelling drama I think I’ve ever seen. And yes I know I don’t go to very many drama-y plays but that’s still saying something so shut up. Seriously. So good.
I don’t want to say too much about the story because the show is one long surprise and I want to keep it that way, but it’s fair to say that it left me reeling a bit. (I don’t even know what that means really. Is it a fishing thing? It definitely left me feeling a bit spinny and out of control, so maybe it is a fishing thing.)
I walked over the bridge to the Hayward in a bit of a trance, but was slowly rebuilt into a human being by THIS BEAUTIFUL THING by Leo Villareal (that’s a person, not a football team).
It’s called Cylinder II, the first exhibit in Light Show, and you can’t tell from the photo but it moves like the most gorgeous cascade of rain and fireworks and shooting stars and neurons and waterfalls and big eyes and arrows and sucky growy things and tidal waves and sci-fi iris scanners and it’s just the most engaging, the most calming thing I’ve seen in a very long time. I returned to it after looking round the rest of the exhibition and heard a young couple having the most intense post-break-up talk, about how she wants to go travelling and it’s important that she does it on her own and how he just wants her to be happy and would never hold her back and about how they both thought that the other was the person they had always wanted to be with until it turned out that they didn’t.
Every so often one of them would say “Shall we keep moving?” and the other would reply “No, it’s nice here, looking at this together.”
I’ve written about going home before on this blog, not least of all when I saw Manchester Lines in the summer. That was a transitional, worrying time for me, which I think you can hear in my writing. I’m going through a transitional time now too, but I have the good fortune of having a job and a house and an affordable future lined up. So, it was with a very different head on my shoulders that I saw Port yesterday.
I’m from Macclesfield, which is about half an hour from Stockport; its smaller, more middle-class cousin. My Dad grew up in Stockport though, and the road my Grandma lived on was name-checked in the show. There were little recognisable details, about the Pennine Way, the A6, the viaduct, the navy parka with orange lining, and swearing northern teenagers (if you think I have a foul mouth now, you should’ve heard me when I was 14), but it wasn’t any nod to geography or cheap market stall coat that made Port affect me the way it did; it was the bigger things.
There was a story bouncing round twitter this week, about the guy who originally recorded the famous “mind the gap” announcement for the London Underground. Apparently its been reinstated at Embankment because the man’s widow used to go there to hear his voice. Obviously you should never trust anything you read on twitter, but I can understand that story because the comfort I draw from the flat vowels of the South Manchester accent is like a warm embrace. It makes me do a big “aaaahhh” exhale. My voice doesn’t really sound like that. It’s a bit posher I guess. I say things like “summut”, but I say them as a Cheshire girl would; a Cheshire girl who went to a good school. But those South Manchester voices were all around me all the time, and to hear them for 2+ hours on a National Theatre stage was like a big hug.
The lead character, Rachel (Kate O’Flynn - who was in every scene and was amazing and played a time-span of, like, fifteen years or something), came from a family much more dysfunctional than mine, and she had much more shit to deal with in her life than I’ve ever had, but there was a scene near the end that I saw myself in so completely. Rachel has returned to Stockport after running off to York when her abusive marriage broke down. She got chatting with her old flame, the one that got away. Since yesterday afternoon I’ve been trying to put my finger on what it was the affected me so much about the scene. For a while at least I’d put it down to the use of Bookends by Alfie at the end, but with hindsight (check me out, actually thinking about things before spaffing nonsense onto the internet) I think it was all to do with the way Rachel feels about going home. She’s sad that things are different, that she’s different, that times have changed, but, if anything, she loves the special places from her history more passionately than she really understands. That’s what made me revisit that blog post about Manchester from last summer. It’s almost painful returning to the places that made you, even though their influence seems to be growing in absentia. The last thing you ever want to do is move back though. God, the thought is unbearable…
Moving away from home is so weird. Places are powerful things. Even fucking Stockport, and that’s is a right shithole.
I don’t go to many musicals. I’m too cynical. Oh, and cheap. I’m too cheap. But I went to Book Of Mormon tonight because Team America is my Star Wars.
It was completely and utterly wonderful in a way that made me think “I don’t trust this. It’s too perfect. The human race has evolved to a dangerous point now. Philip K Dick saw this coming.”
So, striving for self-preservation in the face of imminent social meltdown, I’ve spent the whole journey back to Brighton trying to think of something - anything - that was wrong with it. Y’know, like in Bladerunner.
And I’ve got it.
THERE WAS NO QUEEN LATIFAH.
I may not have seen many musicals on stage, but in my last year at uni in Leicester our telly nearly packed up due to severe Chicago-exhaustion. My housemates gave me an extensive course in the modern musical and the main lesson I took from it was that Latifah is not in nearly enough of them.
Chicago. Latifah. Amazing.
Hairspray. Latifah. INCREDIBLE.
Mamma Mia. No Latifah. Total bollocks.
Chorus Line. No Latifah. Had to turn it off.
With this in mind, I am obviously concerned that Book Of Mormon will completely bomb on the West End with Matt Stone and Trey Parker never working again. I simply could not bear this. So, I have created a quick and easy template with which you can add a little bit of Latifah to your Book Of Mormon experience.
STEP 1: Click HERE to download proper, human-sized Latifah template, and print.
STEP 2: Reinforce Queen Latifah by gluing her to some card. The back of a cereal box works well.
STEP 3: Following the dotted line printed around Queen Latifah’s face, carefully cut out your mask. Ask a grown-up to help you with the fiddly eye holes.
STEP 4: Attach elastic to Queen Latifah’s ears. You might need to pierce her cheek because she only has one ear in this image.
STEP 5: Take your seat in the auditorium for The Book Of Mormon.
STEP 6: As the band plays the intro, make your companion put the Queen Latifah mask on.
STEP 7: Glance over at your newly-Latifahed friend/lover/+1 at regular intervals during the performance.
Et voila etc.
This was going to be about Monkey Bars but is basically just more whinging on about my perennial life terrors.
I’m going to be 29 in a couple of weeks. You can save all your blustering denials that 29 is old and I should “just wait until the big 4-0 hits and your best years really ARE behind you” etc etc. It feels like a big deal to me. It’s not that I’m worried about being 30. I’m quite looking forward to my thirties because, astonishingly, I actually feel capable of making a proper job of them. My twenties, on the other hand, can mostly be explained as a series of aborted life-plans, each slightly closer to the ‘right’ one than the one before, but architected by a caged fucking monkey.
But 29 feels like a big deal because it’s like next week someone is going to press a big red button and start a countdown. It’s a countdown to something a bit exciting, something that I’m looking forward to, but nevertheless something that I’m not quite ready for. I feel like I’ve booked a holiday somewhere brilliant but the taxi’s waiting outside and I can’t find my passport or my camera or my best sombrero. My twenties will continue for one year and twelve days and after that they are gone. GONE. *puff of smoke*
I feel like I should take up wake-boarding or some shit. Go and live in a squat with some artists. Discover a new amazing drug.
I saw Monkey Bars yesterday, the show by Chris Goode that gives the words of children to adult actors. It was, as was to be expected from Chris Goode, completely, utterly, heartbreakingly wonderful. There was the girl who was going to be “a cupcake lady”, the girl who wrote stories about people getting lost in the park, the boy who watched the Arab Spring on telly and gave all his pocket money to charity, the boy who really didn’t want to talk about religion. Kids are hilarious, of course, but Monkey Bars is essentially about growing up and trying to understand the world. Imagining how big and strong you’re going to be one day, and if your beard will trail on the floor or not. It’s no different from looking down the barrel of your thirties and wondering who you’ll be, where you’ll be, in another ten years. I hope I’ll be big and strong, and I have to admit I’m a bit sad I can’t grow a beard (even just for a week or two to see what it’s like). I hope my parents won’t still feel like they need to give me £50 every time they see me. I hope I’ve not had some kind of mental biological clock breakdown. I hope I like my job. I hope I have a job. I hope I still get to see theatre that’s as brilliantly made as Monkey Bars. I hope I’m looking forward to my forties. My forties.
Oh my God.
I went to see The Architects last night and some of it was brilliant. People pretending to be drunk is never not funny, there was a band and some nice video and whole swathes of the show were simply cruise liner announcements about quizzes and salsa competitions and tattooing. The little vignettes between blackouts were great, as were the Benny Hill-style bedtime kisses from two children who had somehow sneaked on board the adults-only “trip of a lifetime”. Let hindsight not get in the way of honesty: I was having a really really great time.
And then we left our seats and moved into stage two of the show and the whole thing collapsed. What was clearly intended as ‘the big reveal’ felt like a movement director just pacing out some action like “and then we’ll have this here and your character will step forward like this and then something something I haven’t decided.”
Over the last couple of days I have seen at least 3 people on twitter talking about how the show is going to EVOLVE over the course of the run. How it’s ONLY GOING TO GET BETTER. Apologists! Now, I understand that all of Shunt’s work changes slightly over time, but I saw Money just before it closed so can’t really tell you how, or whether that show felt quite as half-baked when it opened as The Architects did last night. There are people I follow on twitter who have already bought more tickets for the new year, just to see this… whatever it is… ORGANIC DEVELOPMENT in action.
Personally, I don’t have enough cash to see work again just in case it’s improved. And if what I’m actually seeing is a preview, or a work-in-progress, I want that to be clear when I’m booking. And cheaper. DEFINITELY NOT TWENTY QUID. It sounds bad tempered when I enjoyed the first three quarters of the show so much, but even rounding things off with a bit of gratuitous nudity isn’t going to make up for the twenty minutes of directionless nonsense that I endured last night.
I’ve changed, maaan…
Only a couple of years ago I would’ve jizzed in my pants over a show like Paper Cinema’s Odyssey; live music, live drawing, live puppetry, ukuleles, beards, foley artistry, kids’ toys, heroes and monsters, projections onto sheets like you’ve just made a den in your bedroom, that Blue Peter feel. Frankly, it’s beautifully designed and executed. A real 5 star show.
Except now I clearly HAVE NO SOUL. I can sit and watch the hand-drawn waves roll around the screen and listen to the music as it tells a thousand stories and think to myself “Pffft. Bit twee, this.”
What has happened to the 2009 me, who would have raved about this show until her tongue fell out? Why doesn’t the plucking of a ukulele move me like it once did?
I think I’m being ruined by all the scary grandeur I’ve been getting into. I blame Three Kingdoms for this, and Shunt and Uninvited Guests. I don’t have time for LOVELY anymore.
This is sad. :(
Now that everything’s getting back to normal post-family drama, I feel like I should fill you in on some of the stuff I’ve been seeing recently. This breaks with my usual policy of immediate visceral response but I’m afraid editorial policy will always come second to performers shining lasers out of their fannies.
EMPRESS STAH IN SPACE
This was the big new premiere at Spill fest the night I was there, and I was excited because live art brochure copy can take itself soooooo fucking seriously sometimes and this was all “yeah this is the first version of a show we’re eventually GOING TO DO IN SPACE LOL”. And it was very very funny. There were flashing lights and inflatables and a Peaches soundtrack and lots of aerial work which, frankly, still felt a bit unfinished, but then at the very end Empress Stah climbed out of a pyramid with a projector IN HER VAGINA and spun around on a big hoop while the lights went dark apart from THE NEON LASERS that flashed every time she opened her legs and it was hilarious but also really quite beautiful. I’ve been telling everyone about it ever since. LASERS. IN HER FANNY.
I saw this on Thursday and as I was taking my seat I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I booked. I think at the time I just had a bit of a gap in my diary and saw that it was about tits and lads mags and stuff and thought “oooh a show about young people, that’ll do”. NSFW was a really tight play. Every line was either a joke or laden with meaning, maaan but in the end that just made it feel like I was being beaten with a big stick marked GENDER POLITICS. Some of it was just too obvious, too preachy. Although the girl who worked at the lads mag had an astonishingly brilliant jumper on in the first scene. It was distractingly good.
(Oh fuck. Did I notice the jumper over her performance because society has groomed me to think only of women as a bit of window dressing around the REAL content? I am the worst feminist ever.)
AS THE FLAMES ROSE WE DANCED TO THE SIRENS, THE SIRENS
I booked for this instead of The River. I’d put Thursday aside to get up early and jump through all the online booking hoops in the hope of getting a ticket to see DOMINIC WEST’S SEXY BEARD but then had a last minute rebellious brainfart and thought “NO! I won’t have my ticket-buying schedule dictated by THE MAN” so instead of seeing what some trusted folk are calling “show of the year”, I saw a woman in a wig get drunk and pretend to be a femme fatale for an hour. Frankly, I can do that myself, at home, for about six quid.
STORIES FROM AN INVISIBLE TOWN
Aaaah, Hugh Hughes. I love Hugh Hughes. Everyone loves Hugh Hughes. It’s like one of those tests that Han Solo uses to check for Replicants in Bladerunner. You don’t like Hugh Hughes? *SHOOTS YOU IN THE FACE FOR YOUR OWN GOOD*
Stories From An Invisible Town is all about Hugh’s childhood memories and the relationship between him and his siblings. In fact, it’s often about the relationship between his brother and sister, with Hugh doing his best to keep the peace between them. As an only child, it’s all a bit fascinating to me, and I felt the same way as I did when I was first looking through all the material on the website that works as a kind of memory archive for the whole project. There’s a wonderful short film in the show where Hugh and his brother have a big violent pillowfight when trying to make a bed up for their Mum. I was sitting there like “Wow… This is incredible because they’re grown-up, and yet they’re also not grown-up…” I tried to imagine my Mum and her sisters having a massive pillowfight at Grandpa’s funeral on Monday and kinda wished I’d seen Invisible Town first, so I could at least offer them some direction.
Basically, Hugh Hughes is still brilliant. Every time I see one of his shows I think “Hmmm… Will this be the one where the schtick gets old?” and then he’s brilliant, and it doesn’t.
HOME SWEET HOME
One final mention now for a show that isn’t really a show, because it’s a MASSIVE CRAFTING PROJECT. *boner*
Subject to change were at Spill fest to create an enormous mini-Ipswich, where each resident constructs and decorates their own property while listening to a community radio station, and sending letters to one another via the postman, who operated to a strict every-ten-minutes schedule. It’s a wonderful concept which ultimately comes down to expressing yourself creatively while listening to music. If I was a religious woman, this is what my heaven would be (except the postman would be naked, but it’s close enough). LOVED IT.
Today has been the first in a four day run of treats so OBVIOUSLY I woke up feeling like a bag of those lipo slops that they use for soap in Fight Club. I was out of honey and lemon Strepsils by about ten past nine and then accidentally bought the fucking CHILLI POWDER flavour Strepsils while walking round Boots in a daze. It’s basically Christmas Eve in Boots already. You can tell because they make you pay an extra £2 to buy lipstick that comes in a fucking box.
So the first of my treat days (planned since about June or something) involved stumbling around town, occasionally putting things in my mouth (cake!), composing whisky prayers and generally cursing old me for buying a ticket for a 9pm show this evening. NINE PM. If I’d booked for the 6pm I could have been in bed by 8. I can be such a twat sometimes.
Thankfully though, old me had very considerately booked one of those nice, relaxed, interactive round-a-table experiences where the performer refers to each audience member by name and your medicinal OJ is topped up whenever required. It was This Is Just To Say by Hannah Jane Walker, who I’ve seen in a similar kind of show in Edinburgh (The Oh Fuck Moment), except this one wasn’t so much of a comedy. It was more contemplative I guess, with several of her poems breaking up the various tasks we were given, but similar to The Oh Fuck Moment in the way that it was a genuine group conversation; guided in certain directions, obviously, but we were able to deviate when we felt like it and talk about things like the National Apology Day they have annually in Australia, which I’d never heard of before. It’s a really interesting idea, like a festival of equality. Every country should have one.
This Is Just To Say (as with most shows that take this conversational format) is successful because it makes stars out of the audience. (“Well, you would say that, innit Meg.”) We reveal ourselves to be good in some ways and bad in others. Turns out I’d have probably forgiven Hitler if he’d made a half-decent joke about the holocaust, while the guy sitting next to me revealed himself to be AN ACTUAL REAL-LIFE RACIST (his jokes weren’t funny though so clearly I couldn’t forgive him that). When it was time to write the apology we wish we’d received in the past, I instantly thought about someone who hadn’t crossed my mind for YEARS. Hannah finished the show by talking about someone who is never going to get an apology and shouldn’t bother waiting for one.
People are amazing really. We’re wonderful and we’re shitheads. The best shows are simply windows onto shit and wonder.