The Rose Tattoo – they said what?

Monday 16 April 2007

One of the Whingers’ favourite pastimes is comparing the quotes on theatre posters with the full reviews from which they are drawn.

This can keep them occupied for hours on end, their cackling producing a steady stream of noise pollution complaints to local authorities unfortunate enough to have the Whingers’ favourite hostelries within their remit.

Even the National Theatre has joined in this highly selective approach to quoting. Not content with the plentiful misguidedly enthusiastic reviews for The Rose Tattoo they have also taken a few liberties with the detractors.

According to its summary of the reviews, Susannah Clapp of The Observer said, it was ‘finely staged… robust, sometimes raucous humour.’

Hmm. Well, yes, she did. But she also pointed out that”for much of the time [Wanamaker] has to embody a collection of Sicilian attributes rather than a character, alternately mooning and roaring: dreaming of sex, gurgling with Mediterranean laughter, chasing people out of her house with her broom – a bosom with a besom.”

But the most audacious appropriation of a review on this occasion must surely be the National’s quote from Kate Bassett of the Independent on Sunday who – according to the National – thought the production ‘irresistibly funny’.

To put that in context, her full sentence actually reads:

Wanamaker is irresistibly funny when slapping down D’Silva’s initial chat-up lines. But he lacks predatory menace. The whole thing feels like pseudo-Lorca conflated with Broadway schmaltz, especially the appallingly cheesy chorus of cod-Sicilian gossips with a goat on a rope, accompanied by circus music.

And if you want a summary of Ms Bassett’s true feelings, how about this from the same review:

Sitting through this revival of The Rose Tattoo, it is hard to dwell on anything but the future, the moment when you can head off and wash this awful, cloying show out of your hair.

Yes, ‘irresistibly funny’ is probably what she was trying to say.

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