By ‘eck, what tut Whingers will pay for a night out at tut theatre.
£40 each in this case. Do they think money grows on trees or summat?
It were pride what did for ’em and them getting above them’s station, that’s what.
With two crackin’ shows – Elling and Saint Joan – under their belts (that’s as in “ah’ll take mah belt t’thee so help me ah will”) the Whingers were aiming for a ‘at-trick with David Storey‘s In Celebration at the Duke of York’s Theatre.
Now, don’t take us wrong. We like northern people. They dine with us (or come in the evening at any rate) but really quite a lot of water has flowed under Hebden Bridge since Storey penned this in 1969. And all of it seems to have passed directrix Anna Mackmin by. And ‘err a Yorkshire lass, too.
Let’s face it if you’re going to revive a gritty northern realist play featuring lines such as…
- “Coal dust. It’s a wonder I’m still alive.”
- “‘Ouses, ‘ouses ‘ouses”
- “She’s a good woman”
- “‘eart o’ gold”
- “Nice bit ‘o coat” (actually – we liked that one) and
- “Spent ‘alf me life making sure none of you went without”
… then you would really have to take into account the contribution to popular culture made in the meantime by Monty Python’s “Four Yorkshiremen“, Victoria Wood, Alan Bennett and Coronation Street, to name but seven.
Or preferably not revive it at all. Let nature take its course and have done with it.
It were painful – I say it were painful! (Andrew – drop the Yorkshire thing now, it’s not working – Phil).
The Whingers looked on aghast as northern stereotypes were paraded across the stage one by one – the father who has spent his life down t’pit (Phil – Sorry. Just slipped out – Andrew), the mother who has given her whole life to bringing up her children, the gossipy neighbour, the three (count ’em!) sons whose education has enabled them to escape their gritty, northern, working class roots. It may have been compelling in 1969 but now it’s just embarrassing.
There’s nothing wrong with the performances, Tim Healy and especially Dearbhla Molloy as the parents Mr and Mrs Shaw stand out and even Orlando Bloom in his West End debut makes a reasonable fist of things, although as ‘silent Steven’ he has lengthy periods on stage with little to say and sometimes looks awkward as though he doesn’t know quite what to do. The moustache doesn’t help.
Nevertheless, his appearance was greeted by a big stage-hissed “yesss!” from an excited female member of the audience as he made his entrance. But even drabbed down in cardigan and despite the moustache on his pale face, he simply made the Whingers wonder (without intending offence to the rest of the cast) exactly what happened in the Shaw family’s gene pool to produce him.
If that turns out to be part of the plot we will never know as the Whingers made a hasty exit at the interval, delighting in being able to tell the doorman who asked us to ensure that we had our tickets with us that we wouldn’t need them.
The estimated running time of this production was just short of three hours but by the interval – despite a couple of revelations about which the Whingers couldn’t have cared less- enough was deemed to be enough.
This despite the fact that the trio of women who arrived late behind the Whingers kept their mobiles on presumably to take photographs at the end. The Whingers didn’t stick around even to find out how Orlando’s stage door goons (or were they Lynda Baron‘s?) dealt with the onslaught.
In Celebration is Rafta, Rafta without the laughs. Even the two level northern home resting on a bed of coal reminded them of that evening. But unlike Rafta – which was adapted to an Asian family to give it some contemporary relevance – In Celebration exists in a time capsule that makes it very difficult to see as anything other than a period piece (c.f. The Entertainer).
The average episode of five-times-a-week Coronation Street has more wit and verisimilitude than this piece.
In a desperate bid for entertainment, the Whingers were by this point praying that David Storey was actually in the house, hoping for a re-run of the Michael Billington incident in which Storey walloped him over a hostile review. Anything for some entertainment.
- There’s a vvideo interview here, in case you care.
- And an interview with Bloom in The Guardian here, in case you care.
Suddenly it’s all go in the north:
- Barbra Streisand performed in Manchester the other night and worked all these into her patter: Manchester United, black pudding, fish and chips, Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens and Manchester Tart. Seems there is such a thing as Manchester Tart but nobody had ever heard of it. Bless her for trying to fit in.
- And The Independent today reports that “Masters degree on meat pies and mining aims to prove it’s anything but grim up north“