Is The West End Being Broken Because It’s All Awakened? Christopher Hart writes

Theaters in London and the provinces are in dire straits. Many are midnight after the night, and some aren’t even bothering to open the upper circle because so few tickets are being sold.

What on earth is going on? Covid is not completely gone, but it has reduced a lot. There is no need to wear a mask anymore. And those in business were anticipating a resurgence of a huge pandemic with confidence. But it has not happened just like that.

The ‘brutal truth,’ one theater critic lamented last week, ‘is that many shows before lockdown It is fun that the whole house is playing on empty seats.

One of the reasons he suggested was the paucity of Asian tourists due to Covid. More is the motivational cost. The article was illustrated with a still from a recent production, which featured two handsome young actors in a romantic clinic, with the solemn caption: Teron Egerton and Jonathan Bailey in ‘Cock’.

When Andrew Lloyd Webber announced that his new Cinderella would be shutting down early on June 12, you know things are serious

When Andrew Lloyd Webber announced that his new Cinderella would be shutting down early on June 12, you know things are serious

Taron Egerton and Jonathan Bailey in 'Cock', a production where the best seats are selling for over £200 per person

Taron Egerton and Jonathan Bailey in ‘Cock’, a production where the best seats are selling for over £200 per person

The top seats for the immortal ‘cock’ – which lasted just 90 minutes – was £217. Meanwhile, seats in the new production of My Fair Lady at the London Coliseum and even in the Frozen musical are getting empty. And when Andrew Lloyd Webber announced that his new Cinderella would be kicking off early on June 12, you know things are serious.

But not every show is ridiculously expensive and there’s actually a fairly obvious reason why so many people are failing, why so many seats are vacant, why so many of us are staying away.

That’s because so much modern theater isn’t cool. The malaise that plagued it now has nothing to do with Covid, and has everything to do with the devastating culture wars that are eating away at much of our familiar artistic landscape.

The demise of our theater is exactly the same as the way the new Woke Hollywood ‘re-imagined’ Star Wars, Disney stories and Marvel characters, only to produce flop after flop.

And ‘Go Wok, Go Broke’ is as true on Shaftesbury Avenue as it is on Sunset Boulevard. Maybe you like to play on the field, at the student theatre, or at the painfully trendy Royal Court Theater in Sloane Square, one of the richest parts of London, where they like to play being very leftist. There can be no objection about currency.

But even mainstream big-bodied cheerful music is now distorted and ruined, because of the peculiar ideas and values ​​ingrained in them. Can we ever have a regular, non-educational version of a play or musical? just for fun? ‘No, you can’t,’ seems to be the scolding answer.

Worse yet, this sensory new ideology – really no more than a bunch of sharp opinions – is incapable of creating new, works of its own. Its devotees can simply parasitize and cannibalize the old repertoire, turning much-loved classics into mere vehicles to express their own thoughts.

Frustrated in its negativity, breathing in its bubble-living ego, modern theater is doomed to produce plays that are as exciting as a two-hour long sermon.

Because they are often what they are.

Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella is a prime example. Prince Charming is gay. Eventually she elopes with a handsome duke, and Cinderella ends up with another partner named Sebastian.

There is hardly any need to point out that British audiences have no problem with gay stories – since the 1890s we’ve been quipping at the sly and extremely camp humor of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest. The problem is that Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella is horribly wrong.

Pride and Prejudice has a modern look, complete with recycling bins and lots of feminism

Pride and Prejudice has a modern look, complete with recycling bins and lots of feminism

Artists receive flowers at the opening night performance of 'My Fair Lady' at the London Coliseum on May 18, 2022

Artists receive flowers at the opening night performance of ‘My Fair Lady’ at the London Coliseum on May 18, 2022

It ruins the ancient and archaic folk tale of a poor but golden-hearted girl, who is eventually rescued by a handsome prince, and turns it into a lesson. , , some or the other. But this should not be a lesson in anything. It should just be fun.

More challenging and hectoring was going on in a new version of Jane Austen called Pride and Prejudice (Sort of). It’s completely female – no Mr. Darcy allowed; It is ‘unique and audacious’, in its own self-approved description; And that includes key moments like Elizabeth Bennett rejecting Mr Collins’ marriage proposal by saying ‘f*** off’. So original, dear! what else? It also closed early and is on tour.

In Mel Brooks’ hilariously bad-tasting satire, The Producers, from 1967, two corrupt theater impresarios devise an elaborate scheme to make money by intentionally putting on a musical that’s so terrible it’s bound to fail. The musical is titled, Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden.

To look at theater today, you’d sometimes think that its lead creator actually drew inspiration from a Mel Brooks film.

What about the recent play Sylvia in the Old Vic? The three-hour-long feminist hip-hop musical about the franchise Sylvia Pankhurst, in which almost entirely black actors played historically white characters—including Winston Churchill.

Of course, the race blind-casting trend could be succeeded by riots. Take, for example, the musical Hamilton, in which young black, Asian, Latino, and mixed-race actors play America’s white founders, or Netflix’s Bridgerton series.

My concern is that it quickly becomes grossly predictable in theater, and when you start unnecessarily changing real-life characters—for the sake of it—the audience doesn’t buy it.

There was a new Oklahoma! At the Young Vic just down the road from Sylvia, ‘re-orchestrated and re-imagined for the 21st century’, we were told unlucky.

Viewers were promised – sorry, about the ‘trigger alert’ – ‘large amounts of blood, and violence, sudden blackouts, flashing video images, disturbing themes including mentions of suicide, and an implied act of sexual assault’ . Takes a minute to laugh, doesn’t it?

Now why wouldn’t you want to travel to London and pay a £65 ticket to see this delightful dessert instead of staying home and watching the Oscar-winning 1955 film on DVD?

Again, I can’t imagine.

Sometimes, a dominant creative dares to step out of line, show freedom of thought—and is ruthlessly de-platformed.

Take Monty Python’s late Terry Gilliam, who is always more chaotic than Lefty. In fact the BBC’s own comedy controller (is it me, or is that phrase a bit… Stalinist?) said he wouldn’t be commissioning something like Monty Python today, including “Six Oxbridge White Blocks”. Whether it was funny or not didn’t seem to be the issue.

Terry Gilliam got into trouble when he said in an interview that he was ‘tired of blaming white people for everything in the world’. He also attempted a joke: ‘When I announce that I am a black gay in transition, people are pissed at him. Why?’

Woakes doesn’t joke, and you’re not allowed to get tired of blaming white people for everything. Next thing we know, Gilliam’s new musical production at the Old Vic has been canceled due to ‘staff uneasiness’, and he had to move it to Bath for the inauguration.

All of this leaves the culture vultures among us – who are really yearning for a good book, a good movie or drama – feeling permanently half-starved.

Or do you go with the familiar sense of dread anticipated to go along with a new production: What fresh outrage will this time over a Shakespeare masterpiece or favorite musical?

Yet, amidst this depressing scene of artistic incompetence and creative exhaustion, there is a bright spark: and it is that these horrific theater productions are failing. In the end, theater is a business like any other, and if it doesn’t turn a profit, it dies.

Theater simply has to change: because the great British public is clearly unwilling to pay any more for the privilege of preaching.

For all these strangely horrifying examples of bad theater, we are, perhaps, looking at something like the beginning of a cultural revival.

Author: Admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.