Thursday, September 12, 2013


It’s time for the warm PJs though no need of a blanket yet. The nights are definitely cooler though the days remain hot. Kalyves beach is still crowded as much as it ever is which means there’s still plenty of room, unlike pictures I’ve seen of popular resorts in high summer where you simply can’t move on the beach and pay through the nose for the privilege. There are still rude and bad-mannered people around but the Germans,; previously noted for their bad manners, seem to have given away to the Russians who are in every sense of the word the pits!
Apart from everything else he is doing, Douglas has just harvested our grapes, a whole lot more than I anticipated.
Champagne Charlie at Wilton’s on the 27th is almost sold-out and, still with two weeks to go, I feel sure it will be a full house. They have been rehearsing in the evenings in the old school just down the road. It consists of one large room, quite fascinating with many photographs of Cretans down the years and an old cannon that’s probably from the Turkish time. The room can be used for free by anybody in the community and, rather than rehearse at home where Chris feels it might annoy the neighbours, he can make as much noise as he wants there, the nearest building just across the yard being the little church of St. George. The only drawback with events at the old school is that there is no loo. If I make any money I’ll finance the building of one as a gift to the village. Could anything be more practical? Evidently every now and again during a rehearsal a strange head will pop through the doorway just to see what is going on.
Still on matters theatrical, why is it that directors so often never trust their material, or their audiences, but feel they have to invent something unusual when directing a classic. Oh, it’s old and jaded, it’s period, it’s a museum pierce, it’s been done so many times, something new is needed.
Joe Hill-Gibbons is a director I had never heard of but then that doesn’t mean anything as I have been away a long time and he is reputed to be extremely talented. It would appear though that he has gone off the rails, blotted his copybook somewhat with his production of Marlowe’s EDWARD 11 at the National.
I have only read the review in the Mail  by Quentin Letts and the whole thing sounds horrendous. I usually appreciate Letts’ reviews so I presume he is not doing a clever-clever Kenneth Tynan but giving an honest opinion.
The large headline reads – “A royal tragedy? It’s more Monty Python meets the Krankies.” I can safely assume that everyone knows Monty Python but for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Krankies, they are a Scottish comedy act. I don’t know if they are still performing but they were very successful in the seventies and eighties. Letts’ review describes the production as “gimmicksville” and what with video cameras, head mikes, piano accompaniment and scenes announced on giant screens, a queen who smokes cigarettes and Prince Edward  played by a woman in exaggerated school uniform and gum chewing assassins while the king in his death throes writhes on a plastic sheet, gimmicksville seems most apt. Travesty could also describe it.
The big question is why? Why will some directors not trust their material and treat it with the respect it deserves? Why do they feel they have to leave their mark by being different or in some way outrageous? There’s plenty of graffiti on walls that shows up the perpetrators as idiots and in a way this is the same syndrome. You have in your hands a masterpiece – treat it as such. The last thing it needs are gimmicks.
Are there any redeeming features in this production? Performances? Set maybe? Apparently not.
More than fifty year ago I saw a production of this play presented by the Marlowe Society (amateurs) at the old Kings Theatre, Hammersmith and believe me it needed no gimmicks to be totally enthralling. To this day I can see most vividly and hear the king’s screams in the death scene and it was probably the only time I saw an orgasm on stage. The executioner played it as a sadist getting his rocks off and on the line, ‘Was it not marvellously well done? He clapped his hands, heart shaped, either side of his crotch, gave every indication of what was happening and I swear I could see the semen stains on his breeches.

Also in the fifties I saw a production of Sophocles Oedipus at The Old Vic. If memory serves me right it was directed by Peter Brooke. When Jocasta commits suicide it is done symbolically by her standing behind an upright sword and then, legs akimbo and with a series of squats, the sword penetrates her vagina. The night I saw it there was a loud universal gasp from the audience and I believe on more than one occasion there was a fainting which I can readily believe. Such is the power of suggestion and it would do some directors a bit of good to bear it in mind. 

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