Saturday, August 04, 2007

FRINGE: So crap, you're bad

Two bad shows in one day? It ain't right.

Yesterday saw the first (of many, it seems) of my "double days" -- a day that I would take in more than one Fringe show. At 20 to five, I saw Bouncy Castle Macbeth (BCM); later, at 10.30 pm, I took in Simon Amstell. The good thing about these shows is that it gave me plenty of time to take in dinner at a fantastic eastern African place called Magda. And that was the only thing. Both shows -- how can I put this nicely -- were crap. Honestly, I tried to find some nice phraseology, but nothing, nothing worked other than a good ol' Scottish crrrrrap.

And I feel back for saying this about BCM, for the average age of the performers was no more than 8. This might have been the thinking behind its staging: "This bouncy castle is really cool! How can we keep using it for the whole of the summer? I know, let's put on a performance of that bloody awful story our middle class Mummy's reading us -- Macbeth!" Okay, that's crap cos everyone knows that the reason why there are six different performances of Macbeth happening is that we are in Edinburgh. Which is in Scotland. And the play is about a Scottish dude -- people do I have to lay everything out for you? You know, because of all these performances, there will be a drought of tartan in material shops for months to come. A black market of Estonian tartan will be created, resulting in inferior material flooding the country. Oh, the horror.

Back to BCM: of all the Macbeth stagings I booked in on, and without seeing any, this was the one I was most fond of, the one I was most proud to go to see. I knew the acting wouldn't be up to scratch, set not very good -- I had lowered expectations. But it would make up for its shortcomings by being full of irreverence, irony and silliness, the Fringe ethos. Which is why I was so disappointed. There wasn't enough of the triumverate (irreverence, irony and silliness, in case you didn't follow). One problem: I think they should have given the original dialogue a rest. It's nearly impossible to enunciate, project or emote anywhere near appropriate on a bouncy -- who thought this up? It is completely in conflict to what theatre is supposed to be, innit? The precise Shakespearean language, its use should have been ironic, ironically dragged this show down. And if you are a Macbeth virgin, let me tell you, then BCM is not where to start. Only because I perused the play's synopsis in the Macbeth entry in Wikipedia that I even stood a chance of understanding the plot -- what? I tried to read the play, but couldn't make it out of the introduction.

I feel, again like BCM, a strange sense of disloyalty for saying this. It won't stop, though: Simon Amstell is an awful stand-up comedian. He's just so gosh-darn funny in the other things I've seen him in, but the stage and the mic is no place for him. He had no command of the audience and looked perpetually surprised to see himself faced with a group of people expecting him to be funny. Continually he moaned about how well he did at previews, only to crash in flames like a plane in a dogfight (that was my simile, not his) last night. What? He was killing with those jokes? About clown rape? About how he was embracing Buddhist teachings? Yes, because Richard Gere is the most hilarious person ever. The gig was so boring that the guy next to me fell asleep for twenty minutes and I entertained myself by pushing him over on to the next guy (who was, no doubt, doing the same).

The thing that amazed me was that Simon Amstell was never heckled! Not really, that is. Never once challenged. Do not misunderstand -- there were loads of times he could have been jeered. So why was he never, in his self-admittedly "worst show ever" (I would have probably despaired for him more though if it hadn't been his third show, ever), ever heckled? I thought it was because he was famous, on the telly, well-liked. But I think it went past that. I think it was out of pity. And people, he was pitiable, up there in his skinny jeans so inappropriate for a man his age, talking about the loneliness one feels after a break up. He learned from Buddhism that there is individual, but only a collective and that we are one together. And we were that night, one, in our joint boredom of Simon Amstell.


Blogger Zandra Towns said...

what was the video on your myblog? They looked like grown men and you were laughing.

Sunday, 5 August 2007 at 17:14:00 BST  

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