I am a theatrical philistine. My beloved mother has branded me such and I own it with pride. My name is Victoria and I am a theatrical philistine.
I wasn’t always so. It wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that my Cro-Magnon attitude was discovered at a performance of Somebody to Love – a dance tribute to the music of Queen. The write-up is quite glowing. Either the writer knows the group personally or is tone deaf and blind.
I believe that all art, theatre and so on should be accessible across social barriers, language and time – like Shakespeare.
Interpretative modern dance is the antipathy of accessible.
It’s like rectal-realism in art. It serves no purpose but to befuddle the brain, shock the sensibilities and steal valuable seconds of a diminishing life span.
The soprano opera singer screeched like a Valkyrie, rendering Freddie’s beloved tunes into something quite unrecognisable. She was also quite the most terrifying person on stage. A young man and another female singer made up for not quite reaching the notes by singing them so loudly the luminescent chandelier almost shattered.
I quite like Queen. I find old Freddie quite upbeat and fun to sing along to. Somehow this lot managed to choose the most utterly depressing selection of tunes ever to come out of that Mercurial genius. If I hadn’t been laughing so hard, I might have slit my throat in misery.
The curtain went up and a group of dancers in tighty whities and nighties pranced on stage. The men were tiny little boy-child types – hairless and as camp as Freddie – camper actually – Freddie had some uber-masculine campness these chaps lacked.
The women ranged from a six-foot black Amazon version of Angelina Jolie to a tiny little mini person about 4 feet high. She tore a tendon or something at the end of the first number limped off-stage and we never saw her again.
I watched the first song in bemused wonder. The second in silent disbelief. My entry into the philistine hall of fame came in number three. On the stage was a teeny tiny little sofa. A man and a woman (who towered over him) simulated sex on the sofa until the woman stalked off stage left.
At this point I muttered to my mother that if someone tried to have their way with me on a sofa that small, I’d leave too. Also if the person concerned was more interested in the opposite sex, it might have the same result. Around here I my suspension of disbelief evaporated into a fit of giggles.
As “Somebody to love” began a skinny little chap minced around waving a red rose while another cavorted with a female dancer unconvincingly. I was managing to stifle the giggles until I saw the shaking shoulders of the woman in front me. That was it. I was gone.
The laughter bubbled up like a shaken bottle of Moet Chandon and erupted like Vesuvius. This set off the man behind me and the man behind him until most of the audience was shuddering and weeping along with me. Thank God I wasn’t wearing mascara or I would have walked out looking like a panda.
I think my favourite was “I want it all”. I’ve always liked that song as a sort of upbeat anthem for the youth. I had not seen it as a gay orgy. I do now and no matter what, every time I hear that song I am now going to collapse in hysterical laughter.
A close runner up was the domestic violence scene where a scarily tall woman beat the living daylights out of a cowering little man in his boxers.
I almost forgot the gay sex scenes that probably made more sense than any other part of the performance. However watching these terrible earnest young men dry hump each other on the floor was not remotely erotic.
The dancers were obviously very fit with great classical experience. They were just ill-fitted to each other and no matter how hard they tried, they only managed to make the choreography seem even more peculiar.
The women all danced with massive aggressive male gestures while the men minced around looking even more effeminate than Perez Hilton. Periodically they would make these strange “Let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages” gestures while flinging themselves prostate on the floor.
When the lights came up, my mother’s theatre group turned to me and asked me what I thought. Did I find it brilliant? Inspiring?
I looked desperately at my mother for guidance knowing I couldn’t lie or she’d start to laugh. I settled for, “It was very entertaining.” I don’t think they’ll be inviting me along again soon.
It was up there with the last interpretative modern dance fiasco I saw, which I thought was about pond life, but turned out to be about gargoyles on French cathedrals.
I shall never hear Freddy’s great music in the same way again and to quote my friend to whom I relayed the experience, “Ah well, that’s two hours of your life you won’t get back.”
PS: I am looking forward to seeing the Nutcracker on Ice – at least I know the story.