This past week, in an effort to redress the balance, to atone for far too many nights* spent slumped in front of the TV watching second-rate shows aimed at a target audience with a collective IQ of a shoal of goldfish and an attention span to match, The lovely IMA and I dragged ourselves out into the blustery darkness and went to the theatre.
Twice. In one week.
The first was to see One Man Two Guvnors, in which the lead role so successfully filled by James Corden in London & New York, was taken by Rufus Hound.
Things didn’t get off to a good start. The unsuspecting lady behind the counter in the foyer charged us £2.50 for a pack of Revels. IMA was fairly bristling about such an affront, so I tried to diffuse her ire by pointing out that a bottle of Bourbon in the bar was called Knob Creek, but even that didn’t cheer her up. I took a picture of it just in case it might make her chuckle later, because I’m good like that.
To be honest I wasn’t sure if I’d like the play (I’m not a huge fan of theatre and haven’t been to see a play of any type for as long as I can remember) but there had been so many positive reviews that I thought it’d be good to give it a whirl. To be fair there was enough childish humour to keep me amused and there were some great ad-lib interactions with the audience from Mr Hound and a couple of others in the cast so I felt like we’d had our money’s worth, Revels aside.
The second outing was much more my thing. Bravo Figaro is a one man show by a comedian/activist called Mark Thomas, who gained a degree of fame in the late nineties for a show called The Mark Thomas Comedy Product. The main premise of this show was his ability to find obscure ways of sticking it to The Man. This, allied to his fantastic talent for storytelling, had me in fits of laughter. You should Google it – it’s OK, I’ll wait here while you do.....
The first part of his show** was a few retellings of some tales from this show, along with some more recent stuff from a show he did on Radio 4, called The People’s Manifesto. He had the audience in stitches.
The second part was the show itself. It was a tale about Mark’s dad, a self-employed Tory-voting builder with an overwhelming desire for self improvement and a love of opera. It dealt with his dad’s descent into decrepitude and mental decline because of an aggressive disease and how Mark came to persuade a number of singers from The Royal Opera to put on a performance in the front room of his dad’s bungalow in Bournemouth.
It was fantastic.
There were so many parallels between his dad and mine, in the world view, the approach to work and, unfortunately, in the end game. There were just as many differences. The tale was incredibly well crafted to work on a stage, funny and heart warming, shocking and tear inducing (although that was probably more about the nerves it touched for me). I’d wholly recommend it to anyone on the following proviso:
Be prepared for lots of swearing (both in volume and variety) and, if you have a posh voice or even moderately right-of-centre leanings, keep quiet.
And when we came out the beautiful IMA bought a copy of The People’s Manifesto and some ‘book heckling’ stickers for me, for I am a lucky man.
* - In my humble opinion. In the winter the beautiful IMA would happily watch Take Me Out until her brain dribbled from her ears.
** - Or “the facking warm-up” as mark referred to it. He’s from East London.