The lawyers in our heads have asked us to point out…

Monday 25 June 2007

Oh dear. Things are jittery at the offices of the West End Whingers where lawyers are running around like headless chickens and bar stools are flying every which way.

It’s all thanks to Saturday’s edition of The Times which reported that:

A critic who did not like an opera about suicide bombers has been cleared of libelling its composer. Veronica Lee wrote in her review of the opera, Manifest Destiny: “I found the tone depressingly anti American, and the idea that there is anything heroic about suicide bombers is, frankly, a grievous insult.”

The composer, Keith Burstein, said that readers of the article, which appeared in the Evening Standard in August 2005, would think he was a terrorist sympathiser who “applauds the action of suicide bombers and raises them to a level of heroism”. Three Court of Appeal judges ruled that the review was fair comment and that the law protected Miss Lee’s right to give her honest opinion.

Mr Burstein was ordered to pay back the £8,000 in costs he was awarded at the High Court last October and to pay the newspaper’s costs for both hearings.

Now obviously the Whingers and the lawyers are delighted at the overall result but are alarmed by all the talk of costs of the £8,000 originally awarded by the High Court.

Should they ever find themselves in similarly hot water, this would seriously impair their lifestyles as that figure is almost precisely their combined annual Tesco wine box and Just For Men bills.

So they would like to clear up here and now any ambiguities and/or misunderstandings that may have crept into previous blog posts and state quite unequivocally for the record the following 18 17 facts:

  1. Kevin Spacey has overseen a fantastic revival of the Old Vic’s artistic output.
  2. Why no-one hit on the brilliant idea of doing The Lord of the Rings – the Musical! before is a mystery to us.
  3. There is nothing at all wrong with Emma Cunniffe’s acting.
  4. Dominic Cooke knows a play when he sees one.
  5. All of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s tunes are highly original.
  6. Fringe productions are utterly brilliant and well worth the schlep to a pub in the middle of nowhere in zone 3.
  7. Zoe Wannamaker gave the role of her life in The Rose Tattoo.
  8. Nicholas Hytner knows exactly what he’s doing.
  9. Theatre booking fees, handling charges, postage fees etc etc are a bargain when you come to think about it.
  10. Neve Campbell is a terrific actress.
  11. Bar prices in West End theatres are very reasonable.
  12. The Theatre Royal Haymarket is right to use the same front cover for all their programmes and to charge more for them than everyone else.
  13. Wicked deserved all the awards it got (if it got any).
  14. Elaine Paige is a comic genius.
  15. We love Jenny Seagrove and hope she appears in all of Bill Kenwright’s shows.
  16. What the world really needs now is a sequel to Phantom of the Opera.
  17. The Donmar’s priority booking system is a masterpiece of customer-centred design.
  18. Resurrection Blues was one of the best productions ever. (Phil – I’ve taken that one out as I think we’re pretty safe there actually. No judge or jury is ever going to send us down for that in a million years – Andrew).

One Response to “The lawyers in our heads have asked us to point out…”

  1. Katherine F. Says:

    Gosh. I never thought I’d comment on a two-year-old blog post, but I came across this while binging on your archived posts and had to speak up as it mentioned Manifest Destiny which I saw at the Edinburgh Festival in 2005 — easily the worst theatrical experience I have ever had. I made the mistake of sitting near the front, where the actors would have seen me if I’d left early, and so I felt obliged by sheer social embarrassment to sit through the whole thing. It was awful. The music was rather nice, and the actors sung their little hearts out, but the libretto consisted entirely of the worst kind of shallow, meaningless adolescent anti-American posturing; the kind of thing that would make a dedicated European socialist want to dress up in the stars and stripes just so they couldn’t be mistaken as being on the same side as the person who wrote such utter drivel.

    I ranted about it immediately after seeing it. It suffered even more because I’d seen The Death of Klinghoffer the night before, which proved that it is actually possible to make thoughtful and beautiful and perhaps even profound opera out of contemporary conflicts. But Burstein didn’t do that. Burstein threw together a load of half-baked cliches and set them to music. Quite decent music, to be fair. But that’s not enough.

    He can sue me if he likes (though given that he ultimately lost against the Standard, he probably won’t).

    By the way, your blog is brilliant. Thanks to you, I’ve just had a wonderful weekend in London; I saw A Little Night Music, Twelfth Night, and The Pitmen Painters, and they were all as good as you said they were. It would never have occurred to me to see The Pitmen Painters but for your recommendation, and I’m very glad I did.

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