Encore Theatre Magazine
:: Sunday, July 18, 2004 ::
Why Go To The Theatre?
Lynn Barber's obviously a bit short on ideas, because she's had to write the theatre-knocking article that every broadsheet columnist feels duty-bound to offer at some point. (Anyone remember Brian Appleyard's similar piece a few years ago? Didn't think so.) She made some daft comment in an interview with Simon Gray that no straight men willingly go to the theatre and, by her own account, was required to back this up by some visits.
Let's not make a big deal of this because who really cares what Lynn Barber thinks? However, before her article becomes landfill, we should just note some particular howlers:
- Challenged by her editor, she admits that the last two things she saw were Mamma Mia and Jerry Springer - The Opera and that she hasn't seen a play for years.
- She went to The Woman in Black believing it was The Woman in White. I thought the point was to go and see plays, so neither evening would have been particularly appropriate. But, soft, she explains; she went for the Lloyd Webber because it was recommended to her by that paragon of theatrical taste, Michael Winner.
- She saw Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe but left at the interval because the seat was uncomfortable.
- She found Democracy dull and The Old Masters (right) duller, which is fair enough because they are (but hasn't she got any friends? anyone who could have told her that?). Meanwhile, she adored The History Boys.
- She adds that the programmes are excessively expensive (true) and that actors sometimes shout too much (they do). And from this comprehensive survey she diagnoses the theatre's problem in the fact that 'the plays are all such crap'.
Imagine someone who said they disliked rock music. You ask them why and they explain that they have only bought a Steps and a Gareth Gates album in the last five years. So you send them off to educate themselves and they come back and tell you that (a) they accidentally bought REO Speedwagon instead of REM, (b) that they gave up on Exile on Main Street halfway through, (c) that they find Coldplay and Keane bland but they adore Travis, and (d) they think the mark-up on CDs is excessive and they wish those Emo bands didn't whine so much. From this, they lament that 'rock music is all such crap'.
Would you take this person seriously? For a second?