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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Suddenly, I love going to the theatre

I did some dabbling in theatre when I was younger but I haven't been a regular theatre goer for years. Lately I find myself going all the time. Why?
1. It's oddly affordable. Going to the theatre used to be an exceptionally expensive night out. But compared to a night in the open air at a contemporary rock concert it's not any more. And if you get some kind of concession it can be not much more than going to the cinema. We went to see Alan Bennett's The Habit Of Art at the National for ten quid, which is what most people pay to see an unknown band in London.
2. Just about every other form of entertainment has been digitised to the point that it's no longer astonishing. Great stage acting, such as Bertie Carvel's performance in "Rope", is the last redoubt of hard-earned skill and it's particularly enthralling when you get to see it at close quarters.
3. At the same time the technology of illusion has moved on dramatically. Even truly lame pieces of work like Terry Pratchett's "Nation" can still stop you in your tracks with a stunning depiction of a shipwreck.
4. Theatre can do ideas in a way that neither film nor TV will allow themselves to do any more. Yesterday we went to see "Enron"(above), which is an examination of a corporate tragedy from every different point of view, borrowing its techniques from TV, film, musicals, documentary, puppetry and rock shows.
5. It's full. A few years ago I went to a couple of productions in front of half-full houses. It's no fun for the actors or the audience. That seems to be no longer the case. I'm told the West End is going through a good patch thanks to the number of Brits holidaying at home. Long may it continue.