Monday, 26 January 2009

Skin Deep @ Leeds Grand Theatre

"I could absolutely vomit!"
"Peurile...No, beyond childish."
Just some of the glorious expressions of disgust heard when the interval curtain fell at Armando Iannucci's operetta on Saturday, January 24. Personally I wasn't disgusted enough, although perhaps that might be to do with the fact that I could still class myself a youth at a push, and therefore would not be shocked if John Snow began eating the Channel 4 news crew's brains live on air. My slightly laboured point being that the people who weren't offended were young.

So do real grownups have no sense of satirical humour? Or is it just the ones with Land Rover Discos and 5 labradors who really can't stomach 20 people in extremely fake-looking naked suits complete with wooly pubic hair? (See, it was funny.) It's a confusing thought, because everyone must have had a GSOH at some point in their lives, or that acronym would mean absolutely nothing because it wouldn't have needed to be invented because it would not be true of anybody at all. Still, apparently you can become 50 and not be able to laugh. What a fun life these people must have had.

But it was funny. Yes, mostly in a 'peurile' sense, but come on, willies and boobies are very funny. Especially if they're being sung about by an accomplished opera singer in a beautiful alto voice.

In all honesty, the show as a whole was on the shambolic side. There were times when the words weren't distinguishable at all, and towards the end the plot seemed to dissolve into flesh juice, loads of people were walking around a huge white pedal bin with bathing suits on, and without my glasses especially the stage started to look like a big blob of noise. I think it turned me into a synaesthesian.

It wasn't unenjoyable though, I was as impressed with the performers as I was by the general funny-ness of it, and although the dialogue wasn't as great as I'd hoped for (I'm a huge fan of Iannucci's sometimes insane wordplay...how can one man be so fantastically random?) I still had a roaring good time. At the end I even heard posh people expressing their dislike for the opera, as though they had been expecting a nice lovely rendition of The Magic Flute. It's always fun to hear indignant old poshies get irate. "I have no wish to stay for the second half Maragret. Absolutely no wish in the world." Good, get out. You're ruining it for the rest of us you loudly complaining ASBO old woman. The leading lady had an extremely powerful voice, but to single one person out from the cast would be a shame. They all did tremendously (don't you love that word?) with what they were given. No offence to Armando, but there was a bit of a brightly-coloured-crayons-being-silly-for-the-sake-of-it feel to the show.

Really though, as they said on the Culture Show last week, Louis Theroux's already exposed plastic surgery. There's not much left to expose. The only direction was silly and dark. And silly and dark it was. Especially when Doktor Needlmeier and his lover got melted to the floor.

(note - every time I see "Doktor" my brain screams out "THAT'S TIM BISLEY'S, HANDS OFF!!" I hope at least one other person does too, or I might have to check into a clinic that erases sitcoms out of people's brains.)

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