Saturday, December 16, 2006

An old abusing of God's patience

Or :
If I be served such another trick, I’ll have my brains ta’en out, and buttered, and give them to a dog for a new year’s gift.

The Merry Wives of Windsor: Act 3, scene 5

I went to see the RSC’s new seasonal production, Merry Wives - The Musical, last night. I went blind, not having seen any reviews, and was therefore able to form a perfectly unclouded judgement about the quality of the show.


Not even the combined powers of the dames Judy Dench and Simon Callow could raise it above the level of brutal mediocrity. Watching the pair of them was like seeing your physics and geography teachers mug, slap-thigh and hoot their way through an end-of-term variety entertainment. Simply cringe inducing.

My friend and I decided we hadn’t paid to be held hostage, so burst through a fire escape and onto the rainy streets of Stratford during the interval, and had an excellent night elsewhere with the hour and a half we stole back from this witless, charm-free lampoonery.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The internet can read my mind

I’ve been trying to think of a word. It’s been driving me mad. It’s not a particularly obscure word, but for some reason it’s eluded me all day. I’ve broken out Roget’s. I’ve tried Googling around the definition. I’ve tried to remember in which book I came across it, and scanning the index. I’ve paged through old diaries trying to find it.

Five minutes ago, I surfed to, and beat my bollocks with bamboo if the word of the day - syncretic - is not the very one I’ve been straining to recall all day.

I must try and use this new power for good.

Friday, December 01, 2006

On The Wire

There’s an endlessly quotable interview over at Slate with David Simon, co-creator of The Wire. Season Four ends next Sunday, and the unfolding destinies of Dukie, Randy, Michael and Namod have created easily the best TV I’ve seen all year.

Amongst the many gems in the interview, I particularly liked:

On The Wire, we were trying to explore this stuff you don't see—the dope on the table, all that has been done to death. Sometimes the real poetry of police work is a couple of detectives with their feet on a desk in the backroom looking at ballistics. And that sounds like anti-drama. But that's the trick to making good drama; the drama has to be earned. There have to be moments of anti-drama. You can't make a good show based on pure verisimilitude, pure anti-drama. But you have to acknowledge a lot of ordinary life. Most TV doesn't do that.

If I had to write a police procedural right now, I'd put a gun to my head. And I really have to say this, even Homicide [on which Simon was a producer and writer] was prisoner of the form. On shows where the arrest matters, where it's about good and evil, punishing crime, the poor and the rich, the suspect exists to exalt the good guys, to make the Sipowiczs and the Pembletons and the Joe Fridays that much more moral, that much more righteous, that much more intellectualized. It's to validate their point of view and the point of view of society. So, you end up with same stilted picture of the underclass. Either they're the salt of earth looking for a break, and not at all responsible, or they're venal and evil and need to be punished. That's a good precedent for creating an alienated America.

And this contextualises the show really nicely:

In our heads we're writing a Greek tragedy, but instead of the gods being petulant and jealous Olympians hurling lightning bolts down at our protagonists, it's the Postmodern institutions that are the gods. And they are gods. And no one is bigger.

If you haven’t been watching this magnificent drama what the hell are you waiting for? Actually, I don’t want to hear your excuses. Go and get the DVDs now.