What’s this? The Whingers venturing out of the West End? Not only that, but into west London? Whatever possessed them?
The answer lies in their sense of giri to blogging playwright Ben Yeoh who came to their party. So while what passes for their hearts may lie in the West End, their burdensome duty to their superiors drew them to the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill
That and the prospect of a 45 minute show in a theatre situated thoughtfully over a pub.
Of course, it can’t be reviewed in the normal sense because few of the western conventions or rules apply but this is just one reason why it’s so interesting to watch, although occasionally mystifying.
The Whingers did not, for example, understand the significance of the opening scene in which a man dressed as a schoolboy did a striptease and ate a banana (live fruit eating on stage – again!) so they made Yeoh explain it to them in words of one syllable in the pub downstairs afterwards. But if they had bothered to read the amazingly helpful programme which contains notes on Noh and the complete “text” for £3 they could have answered their own questions (the notes are also here) and, anyway, it didn’t matter because the rest of it was a breeze.
We don’t want to say too much about what happens because the play is so economic that everything should be saved for the experience. Let’s just say that we particularly loved the dripping blood scene and leave it at that (although Phil – who has Howard Hughes type issues regarding cleanliness – had to be restrained from leaping onto the stage and mopping it up).
Yes, the stage. After the excesses of the previous night at The Lord of the Rings – The Musical! the sheer simplicity of the staging was a breath of fresh air. Beautiful and minimalist, the creators of the hideous new Olympic logo could learn a thing or two from designer Mike Britton. Phil usually detests traverse staging but he thought this was the best use of one he’d ever seen.
There’s lots of live drumming and music too, including a marvellous percussion instrument called a “Hang” which can only be purchased by making a personal pilgrimage to Berne in Switzerland and handing over a grand.
Good performances from the all-male cast too who where sweating away in the sweltering theatre (The Gate may be more of a winter venue).
Yeoh told us that in modern Noh productions half the audience falls asleep as they only go out of a sense of duty so the Whingers felt rather proud of the fact that not only did they not fall asleep (rare for Andrew) but that they enjoyed themselves and that they had correctly predicted that if you only see one piece of Noh theatre in west London this year, this is definitely the one you should choose.
- This is how you write Noh in Japanese:
- According to Wikipedia, Ben Yeoh is related to Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Mummy 3)
- Interview with Ben Yeoh in The Guardian
- Review in Review in The Stage
- Review on Interval Drinks
- Review in Time Out
- Resonance 104.4 FM podcast with Ben Yeoh