Sunday, 1 November 2015

Out of Touch

There are two shows currently cutting about in Scotland - Tipping the Velvet (Lyceum) and The Choir (The Citizens) - that make me wonder whether I am really out of touch. Both are them are well performed - in fact, the casts are uniformly excellent - and have moments of theatrical brilliance (in Tipping, it's inevitably the spinning aerial sex scene spectacular, during The Choir, the script suddenly dumps the musical numbers for a series of harsh arguments that won't shame a social realist drama). And both have received critical acclaim (five stars in one case). 

I just can't get on board with either production. It's not just that they don't conform to my ideal of experimental drama - they are, in places, challenging boundaries of form. In my worst temper, I'd say that they represent the worst of theatre: lacking dramatic tension, pandering to the audience with easy stereotypes and a lack of character development that renders the hard work of the actors redundant.

Yet they are popular. I'm out of touch. I don't know what counts as 'good' in Scottish theatre. I am doggy-paddling against the tide. I left both productions wanting more. Is this just a problem of managing expectations?

It's a question of ontologies...

So... what I think is happening here... I'm interested in the idea that every art form has a particular ontology. Roughly, for a post-modernist like me, an ontology is the closest thing to an essence I can imagine.

It's something like 'the way something exists', the qualities it has. It's tough to describe the ontology of an object, so here's a chart that is no help at all.

Bear with me... I'll elaborate on why The Choir and Tipping the Velvet didn't work for me. Hopefully, that will make sense of my opinions, and allow readers to decide why I am wrong.

After that, I'll prove there is no wrong and right, anyway.

Anyway, back to Tipping.

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