• Ollie Horsfall

Why I Find it Hard to Watch Theatre

Empty Stage Spotlight - Allan Swart

Tonight I saw a pretty epic production. It wasn't epic because of spectacle, it was simple: one man show, fresh score and the acting was stellar. I was entertained, I left feeling inspired. The show did its job.

However, the trouble with my brain is its inability to stay quiet when I see anything that involves storytelling. I see the plot elements driving the story, the unecessary exposition, the visual cues that are important for reasons of symbolism or certain specific choices by the author, director or actor. I just spent the hour and a half sitting there thinking of small improvements that could be made to this already fantastic production.

I have to tell you, it is exhausting. I don't think of this habit as a bad thing, indeed it allows me to learn lessons from not only literary media, but also the visual ones. When I watch Netflix, I'm not watching a show, vegging out allowing my brain to stew in the fantasy, but I'm watching the script, dissecting the language, thinking about the shot, why the director or even the editor made a specific choice, what the writer was doing. Anyway I just worked it out.

Like any self-respecting gay: I'm a judgemental bitch.

Joking aside, I can't bloody help it. So tonight there I am giving Guy Roberts my best attempt at watching him work and I'm thinking '... the set is too big for one man, why haven't they filled it more?' and 'Those lights are cheapening the other lights' or 'That seems lazy' or 'he needs to be doing hour long vocal warm-ups before coming on stage'. The point is that no matter what I do, when it comes to art: I dissect.

Yes, there are people that go out simply to enjoy the 'stewing in the fantasy', and some people that go out specifically to critique a show*.

(*Usually the people who couldn't quite make it themselves.)

I'm not quite at the stage in life where I think I know it all, I had a phase of that when I was a teenager and I hear it hits again around the age of 60. I haven't returned to it after some harsh life lessons smacked me in the face. So, I'm not wanting to pull apart things that are already fantastic, nor do I believe that my ideas are the best ones, or that there are specific reasons for the mistakes, but it happenes, whether I want it or not.

So while I saw something epic for all the right reasons. A show with a poigniant message. A full reflection of humanity's constant need for wars, battles and fights. It was a show that not only respected its source material, but also magically pulled together the metaphor whilst not patronising you. A show I would happily rate as one of my favourite pieces of theatre to date... But I just can't help but sit there and think

'I wish they turned those lights red earlier'.


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