Wednesday, March 01, 2006

You never know what's going to restore your faith in human nature

[Image from here.]

Groaning at my own idiocy in putting my hand up to review two different productions of the same play within four days for the Adelaide Fringe, I trudged off tonight to the seemingly bizarre venue, the SA Railway Museum, having been newly informed that no cast member of this production was over 17. What's more, the play was Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters, a 19thC Italian tidying-up and formalisation of the commedia dell'arte characters and conventions into a more or less stable script.

Picture my surprise at what turned out to be a completely charming evening in a gigantic, airy, barn-like and amazingly atmospheric museum space full of elderly and superannuated engines and carriages from the bygone railway era, with lots of information and relics and signs and displays and interpretive stuff, and in a small clear space in the middle of all this, a homely and basic stage setup in which, for a couple of hours, a small bunch of teenagers leapt around in stylised Renaissance Italian buffoonery mode, delivering a script enlived a la (or do I mean 'aux'?) Gilbert and Sullivan with local, topical and contemporary references and phrases.

They were all funny and charming, even the ones with no talent, and they were having the time of their lives. The best of them was a brilliant young natural comic with a flailing chicken-legged adolescent body, nondescript flat brown hair and an endearing rubber face. Unlike the rather slow and laboured production of this play that I saw on Saturday, this one had a director with the good sense to cast the best natural comic as the central clown character.

I'm not sure why this weird evening has cheered me up so much. It was partly the sight of a bunch of the very young having the talent and focus to put on something this demanding and do it with so much life and energy; partly the totally unexpected interestingness of the trains, which are big spooky haunting creatures; partly the huge gap between the excruciating evening I was expecting and the barrel of laughs I ended up having; and partly that channel 10 was running late as usual, which meant I got home in time to see the always-crucial opening five minutes of House.

And now I've got a cat smooching up to me and a glass of local pinot grigio with condensation running down the sides. Life's good.


ThirdCat said...

that museum is oddly ace and seeing children perform always makes my heart sing

you are keen, writing reviews in real life and on your blog too. my review? under milk wood was marvellous (might have benefited from just one other voice, but then that might have ruined the whole thing)

i'm torn between house and little britain and our house (where i live, not what i watch) lacks audiovisual technology

genevieve said...

In my opinion, performing kids rock - they're still very interesting while they're not afraid to take a few risks. And it's fun to watch them respond to an audience at showtime.
Lovely description, PC.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Oh but thirdcat, blogging isn't work.

Besides, writing this first meant that when it came to writing the review proper, it took me about three minutes. Glad Under Milk Wood was good -- I saw Dancing at Lughnasa at the Bakehouse the other night and thought that was fantastic also.

I agree with you and Genevieve about performing kids, at least when they're not ghastly little monsters produced by stage mothers. And I can't cope when they're out of tune. Otherwise they wipe me out.

ThirdCat said...

are you seeing just between us?

a most excellent piece, rendered most excellently. and it is good to be agreeing with samela harris on something...but oh! i wish they'd left the air conditioning on. bunka indeed