A Accurately Advertised running time for once. 65 minutes long.
B Brevity. The Whingers approve.
C Coughing. Had the National imported the audience from Oliver! wholesale?
D Don’t people bother with cough sweets theses days?
E Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is a play for actors and orchestra (Southbank Sinfonia) by Tom Stoppard and André Previn. It’s a rarely performed curiosity. An extravagance. But is it worth the effort?
F Feet. Andrew does not like them at all and did not enjoy sitting so near to Joseph Millson’s large bare feet and for your sake hopes that the costume department can come up with some shoes for him.
G Good performances. Dan Stevens is very funny as the doctor.
H Herrmann (Bernard) – a name that both Whingers scribbled in their notebooks when listening to Previn’s tunes. If only it had been the work of the wonderful film music composer; at times it nearly was. The Whingers had brought along some classically informed companions (Mark and Roy) who insisted that the score was actually a pastiche of Russian composers such as Tchaikovksy and Mussorgsky.
I Ivanov is the name of two of the characters. That’s three we’ve seen on the stage in a matter of months. What are the chances?
J Jimmy Krankie. The Whingers were reminded of that iconic star by the bizarre casting of Bryony Hannah as Sacha Alexander’s son. A late entry (or an absurdly early one) for the panto season. Curiously “playing a boy” is not listed as one of her special skills which are actually Stage Combat – Distinction (BASSC); Alto saxophone (Grade 8); Full driving licence.
K Klunk. A person taking their seat behind the Whingers managed to hit them and their party all on the backs of their heads with their bag as they barged through. No apology. What ever happened to manners? Now no one even says “oops” when they’re passing their gas.
L Lighting Designer goes under the wonderful name of Bruno Poet. Did a good job.
M Mnemonic. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is used by music students to remember the notes on the lines of the treble clef.
N Nemonic. How mnemonic should be pronounced, apparently.
O Only the National could afford to stage something on this scale.
P Plot. Dissident, Alexander Ivanov (Joseph Millson, bottom, superb) won’t be released from is a Soviet mental hospital unless he admits that his statements against the government were the result of a (non-existent) mental disorder and that he is cured. He is sharing a cell with a genuine schizophrenic, also called Ivanov (Toby Jones, top, also superb), who believes he has a symphony orchestra.
Q Queen’s Silver Jubilee, as part of which celebrations EGBDF premiered in 1977 at the Royal Festival Hall with a cast that included Ian McKellen , John Wood and Patrick Stewart and the London Symphony Orchestra playing the tunes under Previn’s baton.
R Rare event (see below).
S Schism. (Or as Harry Hill would say FIGHT!!!) Andrew thought it all rather wonderful, Phil wasn’t nearly as convinced and thinks Andrew was seduced by its running time.
T Triangle. A first for the Whingers. How often do you see this undervalued instrument feature so significantly on stage?
U Ultimately unsatisfying. Phil thought the orchestra got in the way of the play and the play in the way of the orchestra. A curious experiment that now feels strangely dated.
U Utterly absorbing. To Andrew – who is too young to remember theatre in 1977 – it all seemed rather dashing and clever and audacious and he was captivated from beginning to end.
W Witty word play in the early scenes. So this is the famous Stoppardian wit people bang on about. Though Phil thought some of it to be not as clever as he thinks Stoppard thinks it is. “Apparently coughing the diminuendos” drew resonance from this consumptive audience but when one character says “He’s a good boy he deserves a father” Phil groaned.
X X-rated. A friend of a friend the Whingers ran into after the play had some very potty-mouthed things to say about EGBDF, Carousel and Lesley Garrett, none of which will be repeated on these pages. But for the price of a drink…
Y “You do realise you’re not seeing all the set? (designer Bob Crowley) It hasn’t all arrived yet.” Phil overheard this conversation in the loo just before it began – but what did it mean?
Zzzzzzs, lack of. Andrew stayed awake, which is a recommendation of sorts.