Last week I went to see a play. That's the sort of fate that should never befall anyone. No rapist, murderer or TV executive deserves to go to a play. Ever. All plays are completely rubbish. There is no such thing as a good play, only less utterly shit ones. That's why they are difficult to review. The play I saw was Frankenstein at the National Theatre and the reviews from The Guardian, The Independent, Time Out, Daily telegraph and The Times all gave 4 stars but, then, they were only comparing Frankenstein to other plays. Even with this in mind, those publications were being incredibly generous, as theatre reviewers always are. They just don't know any better because all plays are just so cripplingly awful and embarrassingly pretentious and dull that theatre reviewers can only guess at how "WONDEROUS... ROLLOCKING... TRANSCENDENT" they are. Like a blind man stumbling to assist a twisted creature that knows not what it does, the reviewers claimed Frankenstein was good. But, no. Frankenstein bad.
The thing is, theatre has no right to be shit. At £45 a ticket it just has no right at all to be less than absolutely brilliant. £45 is about 15 pints of Lager. I've never had 15 pints of lager and complained that the acting was bad or the plot didn't make sense or the dialogue is rubbish. Actually, I have but my point is that there are a lot of things you can spend £45 on that are better than a night at the theatre. £45 is a lot of money. You expect incredible sets, intense yet sensitive acting and a visionary director. At the beginning of Frankenstein, Bamber Gascoigne falls out of a bag and spends 15 minutes doing a Joey impression.
I'm joking! He spends the whole two hours doing a Joey impression. That's what you pay £45 for at the National Theatre these days. Two hours of a grown man ripping off Morgana Show. Two hours of Joeying. Two hours of doing the very thing we were told as children never to do. TWO HOURS WITHOUT A FUCKING INTERVAL.
Bamber Cascoigne, who thrilled us as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock, basically slaps his wrist, talks with his tongue out and shits his pants and THAT is his interpretation of a lost yet eager to learn re-animated corpse. The Creature is just such a brilliant and sad character and the National Theatre has put in the hands of a real cunt of a child on a rowdy school bus. He is so completely over-the-top insulting that the audience is spellbound into not noticing how boring Jonny Lee Miller is. A clever trick, really. By the way, Doctor Who fans, did you know Jonny Lee Miller was in Kinda? I just found that out this week and has made me not want to kill him anymore.
Before the play began, we are told that director Danny Boyle started his career in the theatre but his film career took off and he became too busy. This is his return statement to the British theatre after nearly 20 years and the statement he has made is "Never ask me to do this again". How he let this mess happen is anyone's guess. My guess is he wasn't really watching. And why would he? Why would anyone accept The Creature screaming and lunging at a blind man only for the blind man to respond with "Oh, you'd like some music?" WHAT? And a small child turning round to see The Creature for the first time only to yell "You're ugly! Go away!" and then run straight towards him. WHAT WHAT? Or when The Creature finally finds a friend in Dr. Frankenstein's wife and then, from nowhere, says "You had better run" just before he rapes her. WHAT WHAT WHAT? Those are just some of the many, many things that make no sense in this bag of Drama School shame. And I haven't even mentioned that Jonny Lee Miller's dad is black. No, no need to explain that one, Danny Boyle. You haven't explained anything else so why start with that one?
I will say this, I had a great seat. Of course I had a great seat because I saw the play in the cinema. It was broadcast live to the huge screen at the IMAX and my ticket was generously paid for. That is the great thing about Frankenstein. I didn't pay for it. Someone...lots of someones...paid £45 to see that ridiculous play. Of course, £45 is just the standard price. Standard being the best seats in the theatre. The theatre doesn't work like every other place where standard is rubbish but you can upgrade to deluxe, grande or large. No, in theatre Standard is where we dream of being. That's what you pay your £45 for. The cheaper tickets being graded as Far Away, Behind A Pillar and Outside.
All I'm saying is that the theatre is a place of unmitigated evil and there is no difference between Hamlet and We Will Rock You and I definitely really mean that.
ps. Robin Ince and I are performing Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire at the Glasgow Comedy Festival this Saturday. You can buy tickets here: http://bit.ly/f9Wghe
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