Saturday, December 06, 2008

"Spectacular" - December 2008

It's the morning after our visit to Forced Entertainment's "Spectacular" at the Tramway, and Normally by now we'd have had our thoughts on the show posted several hours ago. But there's something different going on with this one. And Normally we'll have spent a fair bit of time comparing our thoughts on a show before one of us will type something up, but tonight we only exchanged a couple of sentences before realising that we were singing from the same hymnsheet. Maybe it was down to the rather odd ten minutes we spent before the show in the Tramway's exhibition space that made it different... or maybe it was the fact that "Spectacular" has provoked the worst reaction we've ever had to a show - including our experience with "Waiting for Godot".

And the evening had such promise - the blurb for the show had really grabbed my interest -
A lone performer takes to the stage, explaining that the show we're watching is somehow different tonight. The atmosphere is different, his entrance was off, the lights are wrong, some scenery is missing, some performers are absent. The tone is all wrong. Things are somehow falling to pieces, or maybe things are just now falling into place. The audience reaction, our protagonist says, is not quite what he expected, not quite what he's used to. Perhaps the fact he is dressed as a skeleton has something to do with it.

And although I'd avoided reading reviews I'd seen enough 'stars' plastered over the Tramway walls to have my expectations raised. And let me tell you, it's difficult as a theatre blogger to come home and write up your thoughts when you know they are going to be overwhelmingly negative - especially when you know there are very positive reviews of the show by professional critics. And that's when the doubts can start to creep in. Am I the right person to be writing about this show? Or should I leave it to one of the theatre students that seemed to make up half the audience to give their thoughts instead? In admitting my dislike for the work am I showing a lack of understanding on my part? Will I be the little boy shouting from the crowd or will I be the unclothed King?

Normally about this time in a 'review', even one of a show we haven't enjoyed, I'd try and find something positive to say about it - perhaps a performance, or the lighting, or set. I've tried hard and I'm afraid I really can't - although Waldorf has just said she liked the curtains. Right now I'm thinking that there was perhaps, somewhere at the beginning of the process that brought this piece to the stage, a neat gem of an idea about the thoughts that go through an actor's head whilst on stage but it's been drowned out by everything else that the production has tried to attach to the concept.

And at this bit of our 'review' I'm thinking about how far I can go. I'm thinking of describing the central character as the bastard son of Jimmy Carr & 'David Brent' but I doubt Waldorf will let me. Now I'm recalling that there were a couple of moments in the show where I felt something was about to change, moments of anticipation that all the tedious (and only partly successful) audience manipulation would be revealed as just the foundation for something more. And then the sickening disappointment as I realise there isn't anything 'more' - just more.

Normally it would never cross my mind to leave during a performance (we didn't but it was a close call).

And then, just at the end of a show, regardless of how little I've enjoyed it I will Normally applaud out of respect for the effort of those involved. Normally.

Spectacular runs at the Tramway until Saturday 6th December
Image by Hugo Glendinning used with permission