Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The Crucible - a reluctant theatregoer recants.


It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of "the theatre darling". I dread sitting for a couple of hours in s
eats designed for the skinny post-war bottom watching a load of self-indulgent luvvies on a stage shouting at each other. Thus,it was with mixed emotions and a very real sense of self-sacrifice that I discovered that ChaCha's set coursework piece, Arthur Miller's The Crucible was playing at the Regents Park open air theatre and receiving very good reviews, so, despite my misgivings, I leapt straight on the web and purchased a couple of tickets.

Saturday dawned, a lovely day, I went for a vigorous bike ride, came home, cleaned the chickens, fed the cats, checked the bees, did the washing, ironing and cleaning, (Lady Stuffy is currently in Greece trying to resolve the financial crisis by personally injecting huge amounts of cash into the retailers and barkeeps of Santorini) then aroused Cha from her hard earned slumber. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast then changed and hied ourselves up to town on one of Network SouthEast's finest railway engines for a delightful lunch at Le Pain Quotidien on the South Bank (a favourite stopping off spot for a coffee and comestibles break).

The gardens of Regents Park were delightful on this warm summers day with
an eclectic mix of London's finest enjoying the sunshine, two wedding parties, a riot of colour and fun, readers, writers, jugglers, joggers, ipodders, parents, children,picknickers, lovers and strollers, a glorious feast for the people watcher, it's a mystery to me why, within 100 metres of the kaleidoscopic reality of the occasionally delightful melange that London can offer there was a huge queue at Madame Tussauds as sweaty tourists lined up to view plastic replicas of, mostly, plastic people.


We arrived at the open air theatre in plenty of time, I suffer from a condition which means I'd rather be an hour early than a minute late. (notably this is one of the many areas of disconnect with my lovely wife who operates in a parallel universe where time is apparently elastic and punctuality a fictional construct, sadly this doesn't help when she has to interact with deadlines in the real (my) world).

With time to kill we enjoyed glasses of a refreshing beverag
e called 'pepsi' and drank in the the sylvan atmosphere of the theatre and then, as the crowd swelled, took our distinctly uncomfortable seats for the performance.

Dear reader I was captivated, I've never seen the film but I've read the play and understood the story, and I've read the analysis and can relate to the messages around McCarthyism, (indeed I've had to, simply to avoid my daughter thinking her dad's an ignoramus) but now, I 'get it', really! Great writing, very ingenious staging, some powerful but not OTT performances and a simple but effective presentation in a truly lovely setting mean that I have to, reluctantly, revise my blanket classification that "everything theatrical that doesn't involve attractive ladies in black lingerie (e.g. Chicago) is rubbish.

So, in summary, ChaCha is assured a great result in her exams, I'm less of a thespian philistine than I was and I do heartily commend the Regents Park Theatre of a summer evening to you my gentle readers.

If you need someone to share a jug of Pimms, let me know.

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