Review – The Seven Deadly Sins / Pierrot Lunaire

Sunday 29 April 2007

Seven Deadly SinsThe Whingers don’t really do culture. They go to the theatre now and again, but that’s not really the same thing, is it?

Ballet is anathema to them. But having spent an hour and a half of the morning on the backstage tour of the Royal Opera House, Andrew had the bright idea that the Whingers should take the opportunity to see some actual ballet in the flesh. They were already in the building, so it wouldn’t be any bother.

A quick look at the schedule sealed their fate, for the 2.30 production was advertised as three short ballets, the first only 35 minutes long. The worst case scenario was that they would leave in the first interval and be back the pub within the hour and still able to say they had seen “a ballet”.

And so it was that day tickets were secured for The Seven Deadly Sins , Pierrot Lunaire and La Fin du Jour.

The first is a “ballet chanté in nine scenes”, the music by Kurt Weill and the “text” (that’s what it says in the programme; very Royal Court) by Bertolt Brecht.

The production was notable for featuring no less a person than Martha Wainwright (who is probably fed up of being described as sister of Rufus, daughter of Loudon III) who proved to exceptionally gifted at singing Weill – a husky smoker’s voice – bit like Marianne Faithful but more tuneful. Hats off to Wilhelm Bruckner-Ruggeberg for the “low voice arrangement”.

Anyway, this was all fine, although we couldn’t make out quite all of the words. Martha didn’t do any ballet, but she sung the tale of Anna who leaves Louisiana in a search for a better life while some other people danced and some others sang as well.

Presumably Anna commits the seven deadly sins although we couldn’t really tell you because we couldn’t keep up. But judging by the ballet, at least five of those sins were “lust”.
Frankly, we had no idea what was going on, but we did enjoy the Louisiana moon (by designer Lez Brotherston who did the amazing set at the Almeida for Dying for It) and the wigs were very good indeed. If we knew what derivative meant, we might use that to describe the Chicago/Cabaret costumes and the use of video, but we don’t.

Anyway, much applause and many curtain calls and flowers and all the rest of it ensued. Phil made a note not to clap orchestras in the future because by the time the conductor indicated his appreciation of them from the stage, the pit was empty and they had all fled to the bar (presumably).

The Whingers – having now done ballet – were on their way to collect their bags from the cloakroom when Phil noticed that one of the dancers in the next ballet, Pierrot Lunaire, was Carlos Acosta who is apparently something of a celebrity in the world of ballet. Phil thought they should have another stab at ballet just to be able to say the Whingers had seen Carlos Acosta (though who in the Whingers social circle would be impressed by this was unclear). Andrew, however, had spotted the word “Pierrot” in the title of the piece and had a premonition that it was almost certainly going to be embarrassing.

Phil won the day, but was punished for his foolish idea and Andrew had the satisfaction of being able to say – perhaps too loudly judging by the shushes – “I told you so” as the Whingers crept out of the auditorium long before it was due to end.

Yes, it was clowns. Worse than that, it was clowns to music by Schoenberg – discordant, unmelodious – with a woman (possibly with Tourettes Syndrome) “singing” in German. But then this must be the only type of music to which the German language is suited.

What was going on on the stage we really couldn’t say. There was a climbing frame and a washing line and Carlos came on with a wooden sword. At one point he seemed to kill Pierrot but the dancing went on, so maybe we got that wrong.

There was one amusing bit where Columbine stomps off in a strop of the like of which has not seen since Andrew found out he was being forced to go to Lord of the Ring. But 39 minutes was 38 minutes too much for the Whingers.

We think it is safe to say that the Whingers have learnt their lesson and will in future not be attempting to expand their cultural horizons. They will stick to their knitting.

4 Responses to “Review – The Seven Deadly Sins / Pierrot Lunaire”

  1. John Says:

    Well WEW no review for Total Eclipse at the WEW’s favourite space Menier Chocolate Factory? Not even with Daniel Evans star of SITPWG? Well if you’d gone along you’d not only have seen said award-winning star again but most of the costumes from SITPWG re-used, a poor theatre has to find multiple uses for its bustles I suppose. Also I don’t know how you could have missed the scenes set in lovely Camden Town where the 2 poets spent a lot of time drinking, another occupation dear to your hearts. Maybe the reson you didn’t go was because it’s not a very good play? I don’t see this one transferring anywhere but box office promised another musical for the summer but all hush hush what do the WEWs know?


  2. You seem very well informed, John. Have we got another stalker?

    You are right that the Menier is a favourite “space” in spite of its shocking no-frills unallocated seating policy.

    We did consider going as the director Paul Miller is a blogger, but didn’t in the end because:

    a. Andrew had tried to watch the film but gave up after 10 minutes

    b. We were a bit miffed by Christopher Hampton’s version of The Seagull at the Royal Court (or the half of it we saw, anyway)

    c. It didn’t get reviews that were either good enough or bad enough (either would have done!) to make us want to go.

    d. Paul Miller didn’t come to the West End Whingers party.

    Thanks for the tip-off about the musical. It’s quite possible that we did know about it because someone told us, but that we had forgotten the next morning. Often happens.

  3. shadowdaddy Says:

    You’re absolutely right about the orchestra. They clear out fast.

    Pierrot Lunaire was apparently pretty groundbreaking when it first appeared in 1962, but I can’t help but think that actually dusting it off and presenting it to a modern audience isn’t really the best way to document it as an important avant-garde work. If we’re lucky, they’ll get a couple good production shots and relegate it to a coffeetable book in the future.

  4. webcowgirl Says:

    OMG you guys went and saw Pierrot Lunaire, the Fram of ballets, too? I am impressed. I only wish I’d managed to leave early like you did.


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