What a shambles. What a complete and utter shambles. And how entertaining.
Now that the Menier Chocolate factory has – for the moment at least – caved in, the Whingers (never ones to rest on their laurels when there’s a handy theatre bar to lean against instead) thought it their duty to turn their attention to the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn.
Regular readers may recall that in an unexpected decision which sent shockwaves through the industry, the Tricycle was the recipient of the Award for Worst Seating in last year’s Whingies and it is looking a dead cert that they will steal the title this year too.
But before judging, the Whingers wanted to get the full picture of the awfulness of the seating policy (and it’s not just us – Russell thinks it’s shocking; so does Helen). So they took a trip up the Jubilee Line to Kilburn on Saturday afternoon to take in the matinee of Joe Orton‘s Loot.
The curtain was scheduled to go up at 4pm; the doors to open at 3.30pm so to ensure that they got the full effect the Whingers turned up at 3.15pm which put them third and fourth in the queue.
The doors opened at about 3.40pm and people raced to get seats, not only for themselves but for other people. The practice of saving seats principally involves plonking coats and bags and either looking intimidating or nonchalant. Within a matter of minutes people and coats were sprinkled around the auditorium leaving only odd single seats here and there.
The three back rows of the stalls are the numbered seats. These, of course, were completely empty. For reasons not clear, some side sections were roped off.
Within 10 minutes the place was crawling with couples desperately seeking the opportunity to sit together. The master-stroke in the Tricyle’s Krypton Factor game is that only one end of each row has access. Turn the whole thing on its side and put it vertically and it resembles a live version of Tetris.
The final icing on the cake is the presence of the ushers who go around saying “Do you need any help?”. The great genius here is that they only help you have reserved seats, otherwise you are let loose into the jungle to survive as best you can.
Needless to say, the audience was not seated by 4pm.
Anyway, after all this drama Sean Holmes* production could only be a disappointment and so it proved to be.
For the uninitiated Loot is the farce where the bank robbers hide the money in the recently deceased mother’s coffin, all executed in what was at the time (1966) the worst possible taste.
But it never really took off. There was one very exciting moment when Haig dropped the glass eye and it rolled promisingly towards the edge of the stage. Sadly it didn’t make it into the audience.
Orton still has the power to provoke as in Fay’s topical admission that: “Had euthanasia not been against my religion I would have practised it. Instead I decided to murder her” and Orton’s references to the police (“The British police force used to be run by men of integrity”) still resonate.
Phil perked up at the copious Papal references as only last Monday while in Rome he received his own personal wave (he speaketh the truth here) from Pope Ben (he now feels intimate enough with the current pope to refer to him thus – in fact he was so impressed with his close up view he may even dump his prejudices and do a Blair).
But the Whingers couldn’t help wondering what a Warchus (who revived Boeing, Boeing so brilliantly) or a Grandage (who can do anything – even reveal the comedy in a Shakespeare) could have made of the material. Memories of the famous Leonard Rossiter revival were impossible to expunge, despite the fact that the Whingers (who saw it long before they met; happy days) are able to remember very little about it apart from it being hilarious, but then it was nearly 25 years ago. Shocking.
Phil was so bored he began staring at the Tricycle logo on the auditorium carpet and began to imagine it as the name Joe. If you must see this lacklustre production try it. He’s now suffering his usual Sunday hangover and beginning to see Pinter in his own shag pile.
* During the 25 minutes at their disposal waiting for the curtain to go up the Whingers passed the time bickering about who the director Sean Holmes is and was. Andrew said he was at the RSC; Phil swore Andrew was thinking of Sean Mathias. Anyway, for the record Holmes did a terrific job directing the first rate screwball comedy Moonlight and Magnolias at the Tricycle but also the early-closing Treasure Island starring Keith Allen. Next year he will become the Lyric Hammersmith’s new artistic director. Apparently his qualities include all-round niceness as well as directing talent.