Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Who is this Julian Fellowes talking twaddle?

Took Shark, Squirrel and Tiger to the National Theatre's birthday celebrations; the encore screening of Hamlet on stage with the accomplished Rory Kinnear.

Admittedly, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger were the only children I saw in the evening audience (who averaged an age of maybe 76).

And yes, we happened to sit in front of the two other youngish ladies in the audience who, when I earwigged into their chat, turned out to be junior staff English teachers, who happily told each other that 'kids would never have the patience to sit through stuff like this'.

I thought calling Hamlet 'stuff' was a bit ungracious, so I repeated that tid-bit to Tiger, where she went all 'let's go and hunt them down and give them a talking to'.

Yes, think a month in traction and a broken nose, but anyway, regarding that love and thrill of a  Shakespeare play, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger feel it, every bit.

They simply love, love, love, watching Shakespeare. The plots are familiar stories; the characters like old friends who come round to entertain. I can listen in to Shark, Squirrel and Tiger while they confidently talk across the plays, making comparisons to lead characters and linking sub-plots in a way I never could, not even after a university degree in the stuff

And for all this Shakespeare worship, the glory belongs not to them, nor to an elite education* (although I can dream).

My children are not chosen ones nor gifted in the noddles - unless it is in pressing the buttons on a sibling and standing back to watch the explosion - and I cannot even say they are educated to an especially high level (although I will claim so when the EWO comes round). They are simply ordinary kids brung up to love stuff. **

The glory, if there is any, is all belonging to the playwright, pulling us crowds in with the blood, cheesy romance, intrigues, prat-falls, snappy one-liners, lewd suggestions and a drama where you never have to wait more than ten minutes before a plot twist comes along.

And the language. Let us applaud that amazing language, twisting and turning, leaping and diving, stuffed full with metaphors, tricks, shadows, echoes, rhythms and let's all spot the moral guiding lights. What ho!

It's like Shark says. You don't have to understand all the words to know what's going on. You can just enjoy listening. And you can see when someone's going to stab someone, or do that disgusting kissing thing.

So Mr Fellowes, you have got your Shakespeare all arse about face.

We don't have to be scholars from Eton to recognise a satisfying play, nor come from a posh class who understand the lingo, nor claim a family lineage back to Edward III in order to appreciate the nuance. We don't have to be protected and patronised with simplified versions, nor given safely edited shows to spare our midden-soaked minds from having to think and wonder.

We smelly unrules with our badlands education can enjoy the originals, thanks. We can stand for a fiver in the pit at the Globe. We can fetch up at the local Cineworld and enjoy a great play like Hamlet for under a tenner.

So keep your Fellowes' Romeo and Juliet. And I can speak for Shark, Tiger and Squirrel when I tell you they'll willingly give it a miss, to go and see the one with the funny language instead.

*As evidence of their educational ungiftedness and their astonishingly talentless abilities, they are totally crap at maths and still struggle over basic percentages. One day it will all come right, mark my words, when they want 25% discount on a must-have handbag.

**And let's be honest. There are times when only their mother could love 'em.

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