Sunday, 19 October 2014

Political Musings (Again)

I hate writing reviews of shows that I did not like. I force myself to do it out of a sense that if I just ignored them, my blog would be a load of churnalism and cheer-leading. I was especially upset to dislike the NTS' production of In Time o' Strife because I enjoyed the dancing, liked the cut of Graham McLaren's direction and Michael John McCarthy, who provided the musical arrangements, is an excellent musician and composer. I really admire the people involved, thought that they were poking at interesting areas, and still, somewhere in my soul, believe that theatre can address Political issues.

I don't review to persuade audiences to see, or miss shows: I write because I have to express what I felt. It's that compulsion, selfish, perhaps, but not so selfish as to think my opinion is definitive. Quite clearly, In Time O' Strife has its fans. Even some of the less positive reviews say that it has a place - as an historical piece, perhaps, or saved by the obvious energy of the cast and the relevance of the Politics (the death of the mother, for example, would not happen once the NHS was in place and, sadly, that seems to be under threat). It could be that this production is a warning against a return to the bad old days - although the mining industry, and the unions, are sadly long since defeated and don't provide a contemporary resonance.

I am also concerned that I have discovered a dogmatic position on Political theatre: I was always troubled by the gap between content and process (that is, whether the politics espoused on stage are matched by the way the production was created), or the actual Political impact theatre might have. Brecht's critique of Aristotle's description of tragedy kind of gave me an explanation.

Because of this, I am always glad when people disagree with me. I might laugh at them behind their back, or argue with them on Twitter, but I would hate it if my unhappy review was the only voice - or part of a consensus. I don't like being contrarian (much), but, like they say: there are three sides to every story: mine, theirs and the dialectic synthesis.

Having said that, anyone who says something is the 'best piece of theatre that they have ever seen' needs to see more theatre.

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