Thursday, 10 July 2008

Not another musical

We have tickets to see Fiddler on the Roof. I really don't want to go. After the exploding camel I want to stay at home and stare at the walls. For a start that camel's head was so real. The head exploded and then it was still alive! That was horrible. I can't get it out of my mind. Dig says I am depressed. He says sitting through a musical about the Jewish experience in the face of change and a time of pogroms and general social persecution in the prelude to the Russian Revolution and the First World War will cheer me up a bit.

I am not convinced. I went to see Les Miserables in the 1980s. I cannot, to this day, believe how much I hated this production. Clearly, as it rakes in another zillion dollars around the world, I am out of step with the rest of the planet here, so if you are thinking of taking my critical advice before deciding whether or not to see it on Broadway, perhaps you should think again.

Why I went is still a mystery to me. Possibly because I had read the book. What a mistake. I loved the book. I cherished every word between its covers, right from the very first to the very last sentence, and I probably denied myself sleep, food and water until I had finished reading it; better to sympathise with the struggling and suffering within.

But clearly, witnessing the trite dance routine that this glorious novel had become was not enough of an off-putting experience and introduction to the horror that is musical theatre. Because shortly afterwards I went to see Cats. I liked this a little better because at least it didn't mess too much with the plot. And someone else paid.

Well that was it with me and musicals for about 20 years. Then last year, due to having my arm twisted and cheap seats waved in front of me, I sank back down to the lowest point of my life when I went to see Starlight Express. Seriously, I spent the entire production thinking up ways to kill myself. I have never had such a miserable time. There is no plot, no characterisation, no script, no nothing. Just banal and pointless rollerblading and singing and to Grit's sophisticated camel-laden brain it is all total crap.

Which is how I expect to sit through Fiddler on the Roof.

But there is a surprise in store. Because Andrew Lloyd Webber, that bringer of death to the London stage, has been nowhere near this production. Fiddler on the Roof is thought provoking, and funny. When I come away, I can't talk of anything else but the script, the moment in time that it has evoked, the family drama by turns comic and terrible, the poise of revolution, persecution, war. Tiger, Squirrel and Shark think it is good too. Tiger even agrees to do some project work on the Russian revolution of 1905.

Of course I may have misread her enthusiasm and she could have spent two hours in mind-numbing despair, praying never to see another musical again. Or, of course, she might be considering the alternative, which is mamma and the lice comb.

7 comments:

Potty Mummy said...

So was it the London production you saw?

Brad said...

I'm with you on this one - skip the stage play production and stick with the book - always better to let your own mind produce that play then some wanker's version of it.

Angela said...

I have always wanted to see Fiddler onstage. I have only seen the movie...LOL.

sharon said...

I surprised myself by actually enjoying the movie version. It was actually quite thought-provoking in between the songs - and I even liked some of those! That whole era in Russia was fascinating with its extremes of wealth, class structure, politics and religion, I'm sure a lot of very worthwhile home-edding can be achieved over the next few days/weeks.

Grit said...

hi all, we will certainly hunt out the film version now to support our studies. there has been a touring production at milton keynes with joe mcgann pm, but i'm not sure where it's gone now...

Dori said...

It's always a good day when you can label your post "no bad day"!

Kelly Jene said...

I love Fiddler! I'm a fan of most Broadway productions. I'm going to be having my kids sit through them this coming year. :)