Friday, September 15, 2006

And They Used to Star in Movies

I'm baffled by the Irish Times and their good review of this play (which obviously I can't share with you, because you don't have a subscription and neither do I). I was even more baffled before I read the blurb about the show and realised that it was first performed 30 years ago, and was written by Scott Campbell, a reaonably well-known author.

The play is about Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Minnie Mouse. Mickey and Minnie have split up, they're all washed up. Mickey hangs around a bar waiting on a call from Visconti in Rome, because Visconti is supposed to be doing a production of Baudelaire's later poems, and Mickey wants in on it. But the call doesn't come. And Mickey gets drunker, and he and Minnie reminisce about the days when they used to be somebody, and then Donald arrives, and he's a successful producer now.

I'm making this sound more exciting than it really is, honest.

Because I didn't realise the play was written in the mid-70s, I perhaps did not give enough weight to the film-making mood of that era, with its emphasis on realism and the decline of Disney cartoons. Disney was past its best for several reasons, and cartoons were not the big business they were in cinemas 30 years before that, or, dare I say it, today. The fact that it appears to take place around the time of the McCarthy hearings is more confusing still. But that's beside the point. I shouldn't have to sit around guessing when the play might be meant to be happening in order to enjoy it. If you're going to put on a play from an earlier time, you either have to do it as a period piece, or it has to be timeless. This was neither. It also isn't funny. and it's poorly staged. And the performances are waaaayyy too loud. Bewley's Theatre is a small space, kids. Rein it in. And your American accents are not so great that you can afford to take your sweet time over every single sentence. I think it would have been much funnier if, when being their public selves, they had talked in American accents, but then, between themselves, they had dropped it and just used their normal Irish ones. It would have been like a homage to Alexander, and could have brought the whole thing right up to date.

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