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.