Monday, 18 October 2010

Am I alone and unobserved

I saw Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan performed by an amateur company on Saturday. The stench of urea starts the performance with 'Twenty love-sick maidens wee'.
SFX: Phone rings. "What's that ... only one 'e' you say ... you sure ... if you insist ... well I guess it does make more sense... thank you."
That is, I mean, 'Twenty love-sick maidens we'.

There were good things in the performance and there were bad things in the performance. I particularly liked the colonel, the major and the duke.
SFX: Phone rings. "No I'm not being biased ... I know that I've met the colonel ... yes I have done shows with the major ... look they did a good job, ok?"
Ladies Angela, Saphir, Ella and Jane were also good.

But I don't understand having chorus members who don't sing. Give me feeling. Give me sound. And why aren't some of those lines sang fortissimo? I am sure the score calls for it. It is also very noticeable when on the first exit the last choir-member exits holding the tune beautifully, letting the final words and emotions cascade into the audience, when the next time the same choir-member is the fifth last to exit and the last four are not singing at all, so all you get is a muffled line of song off stage which does not convey the emotion or the story.

Costumes were nice. It is amazing how much good costumes can help, or perhaps it is amazing how distracting bad costumes can be. Saw a performance of something with horrible uniforms, it was really really distracting, especially when they were singing about pride in the uniform. And while I'm whingeing: Why do audiences in G&S shows, clap after each song? I can understand if it was a brilliant solo - but is it really needed after every song? And why are G&S lighting plots always white wash?
SFX: Phone rings. "No I don't want to buy any white king"

I feel that G&S needs military precision.
SFX: Phone rings again. "What's that ... yes I know that the saying is surgical precision ... military works better with my argument ... the male choruses are always policemen, in the navy, or dragoons ... look, can you please stop interrupting."
G&S needs military precision. Military precision with feeling. Tell the story. Let the audience hear the words, otherwise its just mush.

I like Patience, it might be one of my favorite G&S collaborations, and there were good moments in it, but unfortunately some horrid ones as well. Or perhaps I've just been spoilt, grown up with grandparents who would play an immaculate version on video when ever they could. Want to see the Mikado now.

The meaning doesn’t matter if it’s only idle chatter of a transcendental kind.
And ev’ry one will say,
As you walk your mystic way,
“If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me,
Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!”

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